Midfielder Epstein juggles soccer, pre-medical studies

BY JONATHAN PRESSMAN ’14
Copy Editor

There are not many schools in the country where you find successful pre-med student athletes. If you’re looking for some, F&M can probably supply a few. But how many of these bright young athletes have traveled halfway across the world for a semester in 11th grade? Not many I’d wager.

Throughout her life, Nancy Epstein ’14 has had to make choices where she sacrificed one activity for another. During their junior year of college, many students opt to spend a semester studying abroad. Epstein happened to be a unique case, and, when presented with the option to study in Israel her junior year of high school, she seized the opportunity. Epstein, along with a number of her classmates at Gann Academy in Waltham, Massachusetts, chose to study at the Alexander Muss High School in Hod HaSharon, not far from Tel Aviv.

Though Epstein had to give up her fall soccer season, good-fortune and hard work enabled her to reach her home here at F&M, an asset on and off the field, where she has started at midfield on the women’s soccer team since her freshman year.

“I think [going to Israel] was one of the best decisions of my life because it gave me the opportunity to live by myself,” Epstein said. “It prepared me for living on my own in college and made the social transition much more
manageable.”

In high school, Epstein boasted three varsity letters annually, demonstrating her athletic versatility by contributing to the soccer, basketball, and lacrosse teams. This meant fall, winter, and spring Epstein was always playing something — whether it be on a field or court.

When it came time to choose what college she wanted to attend, Epstein narrowed her search down to three schools: University of Rochester, Trinity College, and F&M. Epstein knew she wanted to play soccer at the collegiate level, but the question of where still remained a mystery.

During the recruiting process, most coaches request game footage in order to assess an athlete’s skill level — but Epstein didn’t have any video. After spending her fall semester in Israel, Epstein had intended to return for the spring soccer season, hoping to make up for her absence with an outstanding season not knowing there would not be a season at all. Epstein sustained an unfortunate shoulder injury, putting an end to athletics during her pivotal junior year.

After contacting the soccer coaches at all three of the schools she was interested in, Epstein made her visits, but her recruiting was delayed by the lack of game footage.

“My whole recruiting process was interrupted because I couldn’t play my junior spring season,” Epstein said. “I couldn’t do anything about that, and I was just counting on coaches seeing what I’d done the previous two years and trusting in my abilities to be an asset for their team.”

During her visit to Lancaster, Epstein met with F&M’s head soccer coach at the time, who trusted in Epstein’s abilities, and offered her not only a spot on the team but the promise of being able to play.

“I liked F&M because it’s clearly a reputable academic institution with a strong pre-med program,” Epstein said.
“When I met with the soccer coach she said she could see me playing a certain role for the team on the field, and that alone attracted me to the school,” Epstein added. “She said she could see me playing, and that’s exactly what I wanted to do.”

Since the beginning of her career at F&M Epstein has flourished, managing to excel academically along with a colorful variety of extracurricular activities.

As a member of the Alpha Phi International Fraternity, vice president of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC), and a member of F&M’s Life After College Program, Esptein is truly living the liberal arts experience.

Though all of these organizations are meaningful to Epstein, only one of them has been her team and her family since day one. Win or lose out on the field, the Diplomat’s women’s soccer team is always one cohesive unit, linked together by hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. The team is particularly close, and spend anywhere from ten to twenty hours together each week during the season.

Last year the Dips found themselves in an unfamiliar position. They were on the brink of making the playoffs, an achievement that hadn’t been completed in nearly a decade. The women had done their part, and now their fate was in the hands of two other conference teams who would ultimately determine whether F&M would be playoff-bound.

“We were at the athletics retreat and our whole team was watching the game online and following the play-by-plays and box scores,” Epstein recalled. “The game ended up going our way, and we started jumping up and down screaming. It was just really exciting for the program overall.”

Though they were defeated in the quarterfinals by Haverford College, last year was certainly a season to remember and an experience to build on.

Over the summer Epstein remained on campus, taking courses and improving her soccer skills through daily workouts with teammate Alyson Reid ’14.

“Just getting mentally prepared was one of the most important things to me coming into the season,” Epstein said. “I’m an upperclassman now, we have more freshmen coming in and I think this might be our strongest team since I’ve been here, and just coming back ready to go has been really helpful and important for our team.”

F&M’s previous coach was right, there was certainly a role for Epstein on the team, and it was an important one.

This year F&M has had a tough start to its season, battling to stay in every game, and have a 0-1-2 record thus far. Strange as it is to believe, every game the Dips have played this year has required the maximum exhibition time allowed (110 minutes, double overtime).

For Epstein and the Diplomats there is plenty of work to be done, beginning with a trio of conference games this week, as F&M will face Swarthmore, McDaniel and Ursinus Colleges.

Questions? Email Jonathan at jpressma@fandm.edu.

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