By: Heather Aadahl
This feature is the third of a three-part look at former JMU student-athletes currently competing in the professional ranks and their reflections on how JMU prepared them for where they are today.
Still Bleeding Purple
Men's basketball 2009 alum Juwann James is also located overseas playing professional basketball. James finished his career with multiple awards and is in the top 10 players of five different all-time categories for the Dukes: points, rebounds, steals, free throws attempted and free throws made. Because he is currently located continents away from JMU, James reflected on his time in Harrisonburg. "The thing I miss the most is the bond that you build between certain players and coaches, and also the pride you have in playing in purple and gold because it represents more than you," James said.
The comradery experienced between the members of a team has an enormous impact on the success of the experiences that the players have. Sporting Kansas City soccer player C.J. Sapong shared, "I miss bonding with my teammates and going into battle with them on game day." Though Sapong has formed new friendships with his teammates in Kansas City, his four years at JMU made a lasting impression on his life. "JMU means a lot to me. It molded me into the player and person I am today and I am very appreciative of all the friends and experienced made while attending there," shared Sapong.
JMU baseball alum Jake Lowery is in North Carolina with the Class A Carolina Mudcats and since he left JMU last year, has missed his comraderies with his teammates the most. The bus rides and the experiences in the locker room with his fellow Diamond Dukes have created irreplaceable memories in his life. The 2009 JMU victory over highly-ranked Coastal Carolina was one of the first games of Lowery's JMU career and was one of the most memorable. Additionally, the first game of the 2011 season against Bucknell resulted in a 37-7 JMU triumph and Lowery accounted for three home runs and eight RBIs in a single game. The talented players on the 2011 baseball team earned the CAA champions title, which already ranks highly in Lowery's JMU memories.
Arizona Diamondbacks closing pitcher Kevin Munson also recalled important games and seasons of his JMU career and reflected that winning the 2008 CAA championship and traveling to the Regionals was a memorable experience. Though playing baseball in and of itself is important to Munson, the relationships with his teammates are fond experiences as well. "The group of guys I played with at JMU was a special group," said Munson. "The experiences we had on and off the field together were unforgettable."
The same close bond between teammates was experienced by Julien as well. "I miss my teammates the most and playing under the lights on Friday nights at home," she said. "While at JMU, I was lucky to live with four girls on the team, those of which I still call my best friends to this day."
While at JMU, Buffalo Bills linebacker Arthur Moats earned multiple honors and awards. During his senior year, he was a First Team All-American player, the winner of the Buck Buchanan Award for the National Defensive Player of the Year and was invited to the national NFL scouting combine. But in the midst of all of these accomplishments, Moats reflected about his experiences with his teammates and said that the most memorable thing for him about JMU was "the brotherhood my teammates and I shared through our time playing together. It's nothing like it and to this day, I still maintain a good relationship with most of the guys."
Professional socer player Corky Julien believes that JMU represents some of the best years of her life and the time period where she found herself. "I learned so much about who I am in those four years that I don't know how I would have gotten to where I am today without going through my four years at JMU," said Julien. "JMU will always hold a special place in my heart."
James also shared these same sentiments. His reflection on the four years he spent in Harrisonburg identify JMU as "the University that helped me to improve myself as a student and an athlete in order to prepare myself to go into the real world and be successful, while also meeting life-long friends, learning life lessons, being a part of something that is bigger than you and having moments that I will remember for a lifetime." The impact that JMU has had on James not only affected the time that he spent on campus, but is also influential in the career that he currently maintains.
Unanimously, the JMU alums acknowledged that their years at JMU were special and that they have been impacted by the people and experiences they had while in Harrisonburg. The education, the athletics and the people of JMU have created a legacy for these athletes. The opportunities provided to them through the programs at JMU have been beneficial in their lives. "JMU gave me an opportunity to achieve my dream of playing in the NFL and I will forever be grateful for that," said Moats.