Class of 2019
“Don't be shy. Don't be afraid to take advantage of an opportunity. Don't hold back.”
A Passion for Softball Led to Cazenovia College and Then to South Africa.

When college mail began to arrive at Laura Matekovic’s home, she kept a look out for institutions that offered sport management programs. She decided to visit Cazenovia College because of the sport management program; however, her interest was truly piqued by the Division III softball team.

Matekovic initially arrived on the College’s campus in August 2014. She liked the small community, the friendliness of the people, and the beauty of the campus. She shares, “Kate (Lincoln) Harris ʼ08 gave me a tour and I met the softball team coach. I just really liked the town and the campus, so I made the decision to come here.”

After being accepted, Matekovic made the trip back to campus from Collegeville, PA, for Accepted Students Day. There was information on majors, classes, and the campus. She met other students who were considering sport management as a major and they were grouped together for a scavenger hunt. Matekovic says, “My team was the last to come back and we got caught in the rain. It's all part of the experience and I had a great time.”

While a major in sport management was initially Matekovic’s interest, she switched to business management after her freshman year at Cazenovia. Her decision was influenced by a summer internship with WSFS bank in suburban Philadelphia. It occurred to her while working there that a degree in business management would help to broaden her range of work opportunities. While in the long term Matekovic wants to have her own photography business, she plans to start her career working for an established business. In addition, minoring in entrepreneurship has allowed her to meet with business owners in Cazenovia through an internship with the Greater Cazenovia Chamber of Commerce.

For business management majors, the faculty are focused on teaching the importance of professionalism. They prepare students on how to dress, how to act and speak, how to write emails, and how to address issues. “It is the little things that people who are going to be in the formal workplace should know how to do,” imparts Matekovic.

Matekovic has found the business management program so rewarding at the College that she is considering the 4 + 1 program at Le Moyne College, in order to get her MBA. The one-year graduate program includes a study abroad opportunity for one week in Beijing, China, where three credit hours are earned. Cazenovia College students are also offered a discount per credit hour.

In addition to her studies, playing Division III softball is very important to Matekovic as she has been involved in the sport since the age of five, enjoying the experience and friends she has made. Not only was playing a sport fun from an athletic perspective, but it also helped her to make close friends and transition to college life. Her good sportsmanship, team leadership, and skillful playing led to Matekovic receiving the Coach’s Award during the CAZPYS ceremony last year. She says, “You are going to remember the times when you win with your team, lose with them, and all kinds of good memories.”

In order to be a college athlete, time management and organizational skills are essential. Matekovic has a strategy that includes working every day for each class. She suggests, “Plan out ahead on what work you need to do for a paper that is due. Figure out when you have practice or a game, and chip away every day so that you are not waiting until the last minute.”

The study-abroad program in Canterbury, England, has been one of Matekovic’s most favorite experiences while attending Cazenovia College. Two core classes for the students were Sites and Sights and Divided by a Common Language. For Sites and Sights, the class went on a field trip every Friday to a landmark like Stonehenge. Divided by a Common Language examined not only the disparities between English and American English, but also cultural and political differences.

While Matekovic was abroad, she also learned how important it is to be open-minded. Says Matekovic, “I cried when we went to Prague and I stood on the Charles Bridge. My mom told me that I had to go. I met so many people and saw so many things that I will never forget; going abroad will always be a huge part of me.”

Another international opportunity—traveling to South Africa—became available to Matekovic during her time at Cazenovia. She was nominated and selected to participate in Beyond Sports, a global organization that promotes the role sport can play in creating sustainable social change, along with women selected from colleges and universities across the United States. “I didn't know a single person when I flew into Cape Town. After orientation, I met my roommate, Sam, who was from Long Island, and we became really close,” shares Matekovic.

The team led three softball clinics for children aged five to fifteen starting in Cape Town. Some of the younger children did not speak English, so it was difficult to convey technique. Others did not have any gloves.  Says Matekovic, “One of my teammates donated about 20 gloves because of her dad’s involvement with sports equipment … they were just the nicest, sweetest kids.”

One of the people who worked for Beyond Sports and lived in Cape Town invited the group of women over to her house. An enormous meal was put on for the team. Girls from a local band came and played. “The music was awesome,” shares Matekovic. “And we ate the food … they had rice and a beef and fried dough pockets with rice, cheese, and spices.”

Another athletic clinic was held near Wilderness. This area was very impoverished, and the children participating in the clinic did not have the proper clothing to participate, let alone sports equipment. “There was a lot of scattered trash and kids running around with cuts on their feet. It was also very cold and raining,” says Matekovic.

The third clinic was back in Cape Town, with 100 kids and 30 adult players to organize everyone into groups and work with them. Shares Matekovic, “I was with the youngest kids, so all they wanted to do is be held. I was holding two kids at a time while playing games with the others. They were so cute.”