Balancing The Scales
By Lilly Overmyer
Special to GoHolyCross.com
After being a star student-athlete on the women's ice hockey team since her freshman year and a major addition to the tennis team since her sophomore season, senior Isabela Bagi (Brandford, Conn.) has been named captain of both teams for her senior year. It is not only her phenomenal playing on the ice and the court that earned her these leadership positions, but it is her dedication and love for the sports and her teammates that made her the obvious choice to lead both teams.
TENNIS VS. HOCKEY
Whether its lacing up tennis shoes or skates, Bagi is always on the move. It is hard to find many similarities between hockey and tennis, and that is one of the reasons Bagi loves to play both.
Additionally, it is hard to find a player that excels in sports that are so fundamentally different. Bagi is able to win a tennis match and lead her team to victories on the ice. The differences between the sports are not only physical, but mental as well. “In tennis there’s no contact and hockey is obviously rougher, but that’s why I think it is so cool to play both because I can play both sides of the scale.”
While tennis and hockey require different physical demands, Bagi claims the mental dynamics to be the key difference. “Hockey is extremely physically demanding with a lot of conditioning. Tennis uses a completely different set of muscles and mind set. Tennis is much more mentally exhausting. You don't have teammates to pick up the slack, it’s just you on the court holding your own. I have to change my mindset completely.”
PRE-HEALTH VS. ENGLISH
Bagi’s ability to make the mental and physical switch from playing hockey to tennis is certainly not easy. What is equally impressive is her flexibility in the academic field. Bagi is an English major with a pre-health track, which is just as impressive and almost as rare as someone being extremely gifted in tennis and ice hockey.
Bagi is extremely interested in pursuing a career in a healthcare related field but also has a profound love for literature and writing. Typically a student in the pre-health track is majoring in biology, chemistry or psychology. It is not common to find someone who excels in humanities courses and science courses, but Bagi continues to “play both sides of the scale.”
While many would view her academic focuses to be as unrelated as tennis and hockey, Bagi sees connections. “As an English major I have learned to think logically and speak eloquently. Having the ability to read material, comprehend, then analyze material is extremely important in the medical field. Being an English major is setting me up a lot better for the medical world than most people would initially assume.”
Bagi explained that her unorthodox English pre-health track has already proved to be helpful. This past summer she had the opportunity to be an intern for Pfizer, where she had to compile massive amounts of data into a concise report. Bagi plans on using her degrees to pursue a career in the healthcare field either in the pharmaceutical industry or as a doctor.
Bagi attributes her passion for sports, especially ice hockey and tennis, to her father and her brother. Bagi’s parents are from the former Yugoslavia, now Croatia, where tennis is extremely popular to play and watch. As a tennis lover himself, Bagi’s father taught her and her brother to play tennis when they were very young. He did not begin to play tennis until he was in his mid 30’s and wanted his kids to have the advantage of an early start. Bagi began playing tennis in the summer when she was only three years old and was on the ice by winter.
Bagi owes her initial interests in hockey and tennis to her brother. “When I was growing up I wanted to do everything he did,” said Bagi. “So if he played tennis, I played tennis. If he played hockey, I played hockey. A lot of it had to do with me wanting to be just like him, but a lot of it was competitiveness. We were always competitive, and we still are.”
Bagi played in a Connecticut men’s hockey league with her brother until she was 14 years old. Looking back she is very thankful for her opportunity to play with her brother and other boys because it pushed her to be the tenacious player she is today. Bagi says despite their busy schedules her father and brother always manage to squeeze in a couple matches after work or on the weekends. One of her favorite times of the year is her family’s annual vacation to Croatia where there is not only amazing weather for tennis, but also fresh familial competition.
IN HER OWN STYLE
Entering high school, Bagi switched from her men’s league to her school’s women’s team. Bagi described the transition as a learning experience. “My first year playing in high school was a huge adjustment for me,” said Bagi. “The style is much different because there is less contact. I had no clue how to play defense that didn’t involve hitting someone; I got a lot of penalties playing my first year.”
While the switch to a women’s team may have been initially rocky, she learned how to channel the physically aggressive style of playing into a dynamic that worked effectively. Fellow senior and teammate Meghan O'Donnell speaks very highly of Bagi and her playing style. “Isabela's intensity on the ice is contagious, and it makes all of us want to follow in her lead. Over my years of playing with her I’ve seen that she is one of the most dependable players we have and that we can look to her in any situation.”
As a two-season student-athlete Bagi gives up many activities that her peers can enjoy such as weekend trips to Boston and Fall and Spring Break, but Bagi would not give up her experiences for anything. “I sometimes can feel left out of things my friends and peers are participating in, but it is all worth it because of the happiness I get when I play sports. Working hard with my teammates, knowing they are also making sacrifices, makes winning matches and games even more rewarding.”
Bagi has advice for other student-athletes and encourages them to continue to work hard and lean on one another for support. “Look to your team when you need extra help in school, or with issues you’re having about your sport. Your team is a built-in support system of friends who are usually going through the same issues as you and can give amazing advice.” Bagi looks forward to playing with her teammates for her final season in both hockey and tennis.
Prior to the start of the women's hockey game on Friday, Nov. 18, versus Southern Maine, the Holy Cross women’s hockey program and athletic department will raise the banner to honor the Crusaders for winning their sixth NEHC Open Tournament championship in 2016.
Don’t miss out on all the amazing deals that we will be running on Black Friday & Cyber Monday! Deals include discounts up to 25% off tickets, apparel, and one-of-a-kind items! Give the gift of a Crusader Holiday this year!
For more informant on the women’s ice hockey team visit here