Meet some of Newman’s freshmen athletes

Sep 06, 2023
Move-in day with Newman athletes

During Newman University’s recent move-in day, many freshmen athletes moved into their campus dorm and shared their excitement for their journey ahead. 

One such athlete is men’s soccer player Alan Martinez. Originally from Midland, Texas, Martinez met Coach Victor Dominquez during middle school. This past summer, he played for Dominquez’s team down in Texas, and then followed the coach to Newman. 

Soccer has always been a part of Martinez’s identity and has gotten him through some dark times, like when he was bullied in school or when his family struggled financially. 

First-year soccer player Alan Martinez
First-year soccer player Alan Martinez

“Soccer has helped me through those things,” he said. 

Martinez’s parents also taught him to work hard and never give up. It’s part of why they’re his biggest role models. 

At Newman, Martinez plans to study finance. He’s looking forward to meeting new people and starting his own life. 

Jaeden McMillin, a women’s basketball player, is also excited to meet new friends and begin a new chapter of her life. 

She chose to attend Newman because she grew up in nearby Marion, Kansas, until she moved to Texas during middle school. 

“It seemed like a cool opportunity to come home and play for Newman,” she said. 

Jaeden McMillin (center) and family members get settled in during move in day.
Jaeden McMillin (center) and family members get settled in during move-in day.

McMillin is excited to finally be on campus. 

“It’s honestly a huge relief because during the recruiting process, you have no idea what your future looks like, where you’re going to go or who you’re going to meet,” she said. “Being able to meet the coaches and the team and be here is awesome and a huge relief.”

In addition to her time on the basketball team, McMillin plans to pursue a degree so she can eventually become a physical therapist. 

“I’ve been to physical therapy for injuries, and I’ve always thought it was really cool how they help athletes get back on their feet and continue to play the sport they love,” she said. “I want to do that for other athletes.”

Softball player Malie Noda, who’s originally from southern California, shared that what brought her to Newman was her travel ball coach, who connected her with Newman’s head softball coach. She’s looking forward to her journey ahead at a college that feels like home. 

“When we did the virtual tour, it made me want to come here because the campus looked really nice and the coach was really nice,” Noda said. 

Malie Noda rolls her suitcase into Carrocci Hall on move in day.
Malie Noda rolls her suitcase into Carrocci Hall on move-in day.

Noda plans to study biology with a pre-med emphasis with the goal of eventually becoming an anesthesiologist. 

The pitcher and outfield player shared that her biggest influence is her dad. 

“[He spent] countless hours in the backyard and on the field and mentally prepared me for life,” Noda said. 

For Overland Park, Kansas, native Braden McNeil, baseball has always played a big role in life. 

“It’s made me the person and leader I am today and [helped me] make new friends,” he said. 

He learned of Newman when he attended a baseball showcase and met the head coach. 

Braden McNeil interviews with University Relations staff on move-in day.
Braden McNeil interviews with University Relations staff on move-in day.

“When I came to visit, everyone was so nice,” McNeil said. “I actually knew someone here before I came [baseball sophomore Gavin Wakefield] who showed me around and let me meet some new people. Everyone was so nice, so it just felt like home.”

McNeil plans to study business management with the dream of someday playing major league baseball. 

Another freshman athlete, Deqlan Mitchell, hails all the way from Raleigh, North Carolina. 

“I bowl competitively, and I ended up meeting the coach at a tournament and got interested in Newman,” he said. “I’ve been bowling since I was 4 years old, but collegiate bowling is a whole different experience because you’re with a team, so I’m looking forward to that because it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

First-year bowler Deqlan Mitchell
First-year bowler Deqlan Mitchell

Mitchell is also the recipient of Newman’s ASC Service Award, which means he’ll do community service work in addition to his time on the bowling team. He also plans to major in sports media and promotion. 

“Bowling is a niche sport, so I want to help it be more popular,” he said. “I’m also minoring in applied statistics because I find that nerdy math kind of interesting when you apply it to sports.”

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