Q&A With Crusader Of The Year Mandy Sifferlen
By Jackie Hart
Special to GoHolyCross.com
Holy Cross senior student-athlete Mandy Sifferlen was named the 2016-2017 Crusader of the Year. The Crusader of the Year is the most prestigious student-athlete award presented by the Varsity Club. It is awarded to a senior who has excelled not only in varsity athletics, but also in the classroom and the community, and has been prominent in campus activities. Sifferlen competed in volleyball all four years, captaining the team her senior year. She is the second volleyball student-athlete to ever win this award as Christine Strawson won in 2008.
Sifferlen earned first team All-Patriot League honors during the 2016 season, after previously being a second team selection in 2014 and 2015. As a senior, she led the team with a school-record 497 kills, and posted 305 digs, 40 blocks, to go along with a .244 hitting percentage. Sifferlen finished her career with 1,344 kills, 866 digs and 144 blocks, ranking second all-time at Holy Cross in career kills.
In the classroom, Sifferlen owns a cumulative grade point average of 3.78 with a major in biology and a minor in environmental science. She was a three-time selection to the Academic All-Patriot League team, while being named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll four times. The vice president of Holy Cross' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and a three-year member of the Holy Cross Leadership Academy, Sifferlen was also involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Students for Responsible Choices and the Campus Advisory Board on Alcohol.
Recently, Sifferlen talked to GoHolyCross.com's Jackie Hart about her four years at Holy Cross, which earned her Crusader of the Year.
What does winning the Crusader of the Year mean to you? What was your reaction when you were picked?
“I was surprised and really taken aback. It's such an esteemed honor and I when I found out I was very excited. I was really proud that the volleyball team was being recognized through this award. I was really happy our program was receiving this prestigious award. It is so special to join the Crusader of the Year community with all of those other amazing student-athletes. I met fellow Crusader of the Year Gordie Lockbaum (1988) and that was amazing. He's another fellow #17 so I was star struck, it was great.”
Gordie Lockbaum and Sifferlen
What will you miss most about Holy Cross?
“Definitely the professors. I love talking and working with all of the professors, especially in those small class sizes. You really have access to them inside and outside the classroom which is awesome. Also I love the classmates in those small classes and the discussions that we have. Just to be able to learn and pick their brains on things, it's so fun. I know once I go off in the real world I can't just be sitting around talking and exploring different topics I find interesting, so I really appreciate it here. I just loved my experience. My blood is and always will be purple. Holy Cross truly is big school athletics and great academics which is why I came here and I think it's a unique niche that Holy Cross definitely fits and I think it's really special.”
What was your most memorable match you had as a Holy Cross student-athlete?
“My fellow senior Emily Popp and I were just talking about this and I have two. My sophomore year when we defeated Army on its home court for the first time ever in program history is one of my favorites. I'll never forget that. All of us coming together at the end of the match and then running into the locker room and having a huge dance party. We couldn't believe that we took them down and that was a big change for our program. Probably my senior night as well when we defeated Lehigh in three is my other favorite. It was great to go out with a win. It could not have ended any better. My career has been so fun but these two matches are especially important to me.”
Popp and Sifferlen on Senior Day
Is there any advice you'd like to leave to your teammates and other Holy Cross student-athletes?
“I would say definitely to seek out help if it gets really hard because I know everyone is struggling with different things. If you're struggling with academics, friends, sports or even mentally and emotionally then definitely reach out and get help for that because I think it's very tough to be a Holy Cross student-athlete but I think if you put the time in, and really take care of yourself, you can come out so resilient and confident and strong. I think if you can attack that early and know that everyone else is also with you in that and there's solidarity amongst your teammates, then you should be open about that communication.”
Your team had its most successful season in five years, what contributed to that success?
“All of us working together, that's a big one. Our new coaches are trying to make a new program, a new way for Holy Cross volleyball and by buying into that, and accepting where we want to take it, putting the work in and all being on the same page, really helped. I love coach Batie-Smoose and coach Buggs, and I'm going to have them in my life for the rest of my life, whether they like it or not. I am very close with them.”
What are your plans for after graduation?
I just signed on with an agency for professional volleyball. I will be going over to Europe in August to play professionally, I don't know the country yet but I will be going! And then I don't know how long I'll play, it might be a year it might be 10 years who knows it depends on how much I love it and where I go. I really hope that it's at least three years and then at the end of that, I would like to go to a medical school and be a pediatrician.
What other outside volleyball activities are important to you?
Big Brothers Big Sisters is very important to me. We just won the Community Service award for that, but that is a huge one. I definitely recommend doing as much as you can for service and help the Worcester people. I also think those random moments when you decide to leave your room and go to an event, or go to that game, or go to that 12:00 a.m. acting in the Pit, definitely those moments stick out for me. When you decide why not, and go out and see what's out there, those are probably some of my favorite memories, just a night in Boston, or deciding to attend a talk. I definitely appreciate that, I don't think we do enough to step out of our comfort zones. I did the BSU fashion show and that was so fun, I'll never forget that I just went for it and it was awesome.
Popp and Sifferlen accepting the Community Service Award at the Crusader Awards
What do you think is the best and most important part of SAAC?
One of my favorite parts of SAAC is working with Assistant Director of Athletics / Student-Athlete Development Armani Dawkins, she has turned SAAC into a powerhouse of student government for athletes and I absolutely love her for it. I love listening to all of the other athletes and hearing what they have to say and coming together on certain issues. It's interesting to hear what this team needs, or what that team is concerned with, you don't even think because you're so stuck in a bubble of your team and so that's a huge value there. Also making a difference, things that we talk about are implemented and we make change. So I hope non-SAAC student-athletes would hopefully talk to their SAAC representatives or try to get into SAAC, or attend an event or community service that SAAC puts on. You are heard by the athletic department and they will listen to students.
Sifferlen and the members of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committe
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