San Francisco Waldorf High School graduate Alex Hart (Class of 2011) is a junior at Amherst College, finishing up an exciting year that took her from the New England soccer fields to the Norwegian fjords, with plenty of classrooms and museums in between. We asked Alex to catch us up on her studies and travels, and to reflect on her athletic experiences at SFWHS and a competitive Division III college.
What is your overall college experience so far?
College has exceeded my expectations. I’m majoring in Psychology, but I also take a number of Art and Art History courses. Overall, I appreciate the high academic standard at my school -- being surrounded by intelligent and focused people, and meeting people from all over the country and the world. Perhaps most of all, I have loved my experience playing soccer for my school, and the relationships I’ve developed with my teammates.
Amherst is an academically elite college. How was the transition for you?
The transition was quite smooth. I had no trouble being far from home, making friends, or staying afloat academically. Waldorf unquestionably provided me with the tools to succeed. In addition to the general academic program, I was an official note taker for many of my high school classes, an experience that demanded focus and attention to detail. I also benefited from Waldorf’s small classes and intimate teacher-student relationships. Though Amherst is relatively small (1,800 students), it felt large when I arrived. Thanks to the size and welcoming nature of the Waldorf education, I have never had any problem approaching professors for advice or assistance, an area in which I’ve seen many college students struggle.
Can you tell us about your semester abroad?
I chose to study abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the semester has been the experience of a lifetime. Copenhagen is a great central launching pad for trips around Europe: I’ve gone ice fishing in Finland (and did a polar bear plunge), skiied in the French Alps, toured Dublin and the Cliffs of Moher, studied in Milan with my psychology class, and seen Waldorf friends who are living and studying abroad. We just returned from a 5-day trip to the Norwegian fjords, where I hiked, biked, kayaked, and boated. We also visited a traditional Norwegian farm in the mountains, which brought back many fond memories of Waldorf because we made and ate fresh goat cheese while experiencing the typical Norwegian farming lifestyle. In addition to the traveling, I am taking five classes, though the workload isn’t quite as strenuous as what I’m used to at Amherst.
Next year you will be team captain for the Amherst soccer team - can you tell us about your sports and movement experiences at SFWS and how they prepared you for your college sports experience?
By second grade I was begging my parents to let me play soccer. Finally in fifth grade my father agreed and we put together a soccer team with the girls in my class. Only one of us had ever played any type of organized sports before, so there was a steep learning curve. I think Eurythmy and Waldorf’s emphasis on activity and movement gave our team of raw beginners a leg up. In fact, we ended up winning the league championship that first season. Ever since that moment, I have been in love with the game.
In high school, I played on the Waldorf soccer and basketball teams, while also playing travel soccer year round. I think one of the keys to my success was that I didn’t specialize in soccer until my junior year. I would have liked to continue with basketball, but the time commitment to club soccer became too difficult to manage, especially when you consider the travel time to and from Palo Alto four to five times a week.
Although I had a number of Division I offers, I chose to play at a Division III level because it allows me to be a true student-athlete, including giving me the chance to study abroad. While I was being recruited by multiple schools, my parents encouraged me to consider the ‘broken-leg test’: would I be happy at a particular college if I had an injury and couldn’t play soccer? Amherst fit every box on my checklist, with soccer being only one of the important criteria.
Playing college soccer has been extremely rewarding on many levels. My team is a perpetual threat at the top of our conference, including a 20-1 record my freshman year, and we have qualified to play in the NCAA Division III tournament three years in a row. The most rewarding part though has been the relationships I have built with my teammates. Next year I will serve as a team captain, a role I take very seriously, and I have high hopes for the season. I am also looking forward to this summer when I will work at the Adidas Portland headquarters doing Brand Communications for the soccer department.