Jamie Netisingha is a first-year student from Chicago, enrolled in the College of Allied Health Sciencesí physical therapy program. Sheís also a member of the UC volleyball team, which this year captured the Big East Tournament title for the first time in program history.
The Bearcats, the No. 2 seed, defeated No. 5 seed Notre Dame Nov. 20 to win the championship and earn the conferenceís automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Though they lost to Florida State Dec. 3, the Bearcats ended a record-setting season with a 27-10 overall record.
After flying back from the tournament in Florida, Netisingha took a final exam Monday morning before talking about the game and her life as a UC student-athlete.
What was it like to win the Big East Tournament title?
"Winning that game was amazingóit was such an experience just to be able to go to the tournament, but being able to win the title was a huge accomplishment. Weíve always gotten to the finals but never won it before, so it was one of our biggest goals of the season to win it all. At the end of the year, itís a really great feeling knowing that all the hours and hard work we put in all season really paid off in the end.
"My position is back row defensive specialist and Iím one of two freshmen who play, out of four on the roster. I played the entire match against Notre Dame and it was really great to be on the court helping the team.
"The final game against Florida State was at their home gym. We lost in five games, but it was really, really close. The final score was 15-13 in the fifth game. It was a heartbreaking loss, it really was."
Right after playing those games, you flew back to Cincinnati to start finals week. How do you balance being a student-athlete?
"Itís hard. I donít really have any spare time to relax or go outóbut I have fun with my teammates. My team is my family.
"Itís difficult to juggle all the schoolwork sometimes, but I think being an athlete is also an advantage. The program holds study tables for us and offers tutoring, and thatís really helpful. I work with my tutor once a week to make sure Iím on the right track.
"I donít want to get behind on my schoolwork, but itís easy to do so with all the traveling. Most weeks we leave on Thursday for games and get back late on Sunday, but my teachers and coaches have been very helpful with making sure I stay up on the work."
What made you decide to major in physical therapy?
"I decided a few years ago that I wanted to pursue physical therapyóitís a good fit for me, because I want to be able to help people in a hands-on way, and I really enjoy science. With physical therapy, I can interact with people of all ages and with different problems, not just athletes.
"In my junior year of high school, when UC was recruiting me for volleyball, one of the biggest selling points was the doctorate of physical therapy program in Allied Health. I applied early to make sure I could be in it.
"Last year, I had shoulder surgery. I had to go to physical therapy every day for about six months. Itís good to see both sides of the work, knowing that itís really hard to be the patient, but itís great to work with people who are really helpful and will push you to get better."