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Unseen service
May 2, 2024
SOCCER STAR Dayne Bartscht ‘04, pictured on the right, was a star player and captain of the soccer team at Greenhills. “He was the guy you wanted on your team and the player that other teams loved to hate,” Associate Director of Admissions and former athletic director Eric Gajar said. “He was chippy, and he didn’t take anything from other people.”
Brewing it up
May 1, 2024

The big leagues

Athletic alums overcome obstacles, humbling experiences in collegiate sports

Meezan Hamzavi ‘23

How were you affected by the injury you sustained in your senior season?

“When I first tore my ACL I felt like there was no point in playing anymore, I wasn’t really planning on playing basketball in college. I started talking to my coach at Grinnell pretty late, right around the time I got injured, and after a lot of consideration, I decided to take the opportunity. I was still rehabbing in August when team practices started, so I was a good amount behind everybody. It was more of trying to get back on the court rather than trying to get better, and I’m still getting used to my knee and listening to my body. Through the whole process, I felt really supported by my coaches and I’ve taken this year as a learning experience.”


After everything that happened on the road to where you are now, what were you feeling when you finally walked into your first college game?


“I was so nervous. I was so worried about my knee because the retear rate within a year of the first injury is about 20 percent, which is decently high. I was really worried about moving around on the court and transitions where there would be some pressure on my leg, so I was moving pretty slow. It was pretty frustrating because you do rehab for so long and you work at getting better for months and you just expect to be able to get right back into it and be right where you were, but that’s just not how it works. At this point, the first thing I think about when I step on the court is ‘did you stretch?’”


How was your career here different from your first season at Grinnell?


“The women’s basketball program at Greenhills has a great team environment and great coaches, but it’s a bit less competitive than the environment at Grinnell. Everyone here loves the sport they’re playing, and you’re surrounded by strong, independent women. In high school, everyone is learning so much about themselves so when you get to college you know yourself a bit more and at Grinnell, it shows. Everyone knows more about their future and they’re using basketball to help them get there.”

Mert Oral ‘22

How did you deal with all of the hype around you as a tennis player heading into your freshman season?


“To be honest, it was a huge shift for me. At Greenhills, I had gotten used to being the best player on the team and one of the best in the state. Then, all of the sudden I’m on a team with 10 other guys who are all so much better than I am, so I ended up being one of the worst on the team my first year. It was a really unique, humbling experience but one that I’m really grateful to have had. It was a really stacked team in terms of talent and depth, so it was definitely eye-opening.”


What is it like to realize your dream of playing tennis at Michigan?


“Being from Ann Arbor and being raised around Michigan made playing at Michigan one of my dreams that I’ve always had. It was actually pretty difficult to process when I started playing, and it gave me a thought of, ‘well, now what?’ That thought really didn’t help me stay motivated, so I wasn’t pushing myself as much as

I could have. This year, I definitely started to rise to another level again and I’m feeling really motivated and am working hard.”


Were you well prepared for the environment at Michigan by your playing career here?


“I don’t think Greenhills could’ve prepared me any better. There is just a natural learning curve and the shell shock that I was going to feel no matter what. I didn’t fully appreciate what the demands of playing on a top five tennis program in the country on top of my classes was going to be like, and that’s the biggest difference between here and when I was in high school. My life was like this; I’d go to school from 8 to 3, and during tennis season we’d have practice from 3 to 5, and that would be it for the day. I would practice on my own when we were out of season, but that was just another two hours for five days a week. I was really never spending more than eight to 10 hours on the court per week. Then, all of the sudden I’m spending 20 hours a week between the court and the gym, a huge uptick in intensity. The people you play with are so much different, everyone is so serious about the sport. At least six if not more of my teammates have aspirations to be professional tennis players, which is just so much different from how it was in high school.”

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