More than a sport: Newman student-athletes reflect at graduation

Jun 05, 2024
Newman University graduates of the class of 2024
Newman University graduates of the class of 2024

Every Newman University student has a unique journey to look back on once they graduate.

These threm student-athletes share their respective takeaways beyond classroom lessons: Newman athletics gave them invaluable life and leadership experiences that will support them in their future careers.

Read on for stories from recent 2024 Newman graduates Marco Ibarra, McKinzie Weaver and Carlos Bellosta.

Marco Ibarra – men’s soccer

Ibarra, a first-generation college graduate, encountered several challenges in his four years as a Newman University student and athlete on the men’s soccer team.

“During my time on the soccer team, I’ve been through three knee surgeries, a new team every year, losing a teammate and most recently a new coach,” Ibarra said. “All of these challenges have put me in situations where I have had to learn to adapt, accept that there are things out of my control and to enjoy the journey. The success that has come from being at Newman has been the people I’ve met, both in students and faculty.”

Marco Ibarra '24, men's soccer
Ibarra ’24, men’s soccer

If Ibarra could start his university journey all over again, “I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said. “Those dark times made me adapt and become a better teammate and person.” 

Graduation day was a celebration of resilience for Ibarra, as well as a reminder of gratitude to the people who helped him on his journey.

“As a Latino and the first person to graduate from college in my family, I hope graduation day brought joy and pride to my family,” he said. “I want to be a person that my younger siblings and cousins can look up to and let them know that anything is possible. That it’s even possible for them to do more than what I’ve done, but to follow what will make them happy.”

Ibarra is grateful to Newman University for its business management degree and sports medicine minor programs and for giving him the tools and skills that will benefit him in the future.

“More importantly, I’m grateful to Newman for putting people in my life that I know I will be able to count on if I ever need anything,” Ibarra said. 

McKinzie Weaver – volleyball

Weaver, a marketing and management major, proudly wore her red athletics stole as she walked across the commencement stage May 10.

“A stole cannot fully explain the Newman University journey I have had over these past four years,” she said.

Choosing to attend Newman University was one of the first life-changing decisions Weaver ever made. 

“I don’t regret that decision at all,” she said. “It set the foundation for my growth that has turned into success, and I’m thankful I stayed here all four years.”

Weaver '24, volleyball
Weaver ’24, volleyball

Her time as a Newman volleyball player built her character and confidence, she said. She served as a team captain her senior year, which allowed her to practice trust, honesty, selflessness, empathy, respect and resilience.

“Being on the Newman volleyball team has taught me the importance of building relationships through selflessness, not only being a good teammate, but being a good leader and friend,” Weaver said. “It has taught me leadership, communication, time management, emotional intelligence, discipline and the list goes on and on.” 

It’s more than just sports, it’s more than just the game, it’s more than the score. It’s about the people around you.

McKinzie Weaver ’24, women’s volleyball

Although Weaver’s final season has ended, the bonds with her teammates will always remain.

“Newman has prepared me to not only overcome adversity alone, but also to do so with others around me,” she said. 

Weaver proudly wears her graduation gown and athletics stole on the Newman University campus. (Photo credit: Volleyball teammate Camryn Kindred)
Weaver proudly wears her graduation gown and athletics stole on the Newman University campus. (Photo credit: Volleyball teammate Camryn Kindred)

Graduation day still feels like “a dream,” but Weaver is excited to continue growing academically as a graduate student at Newman. She will graduate in May 2025 with her Master of Business Administration with a concentration in health care administration and leadership.

“Together, we can transform society,” she said.

Carlos Bellosta – men’s soccer

Bellosta first experienced life outside of Spain when he became a student at Newman University. Leaving home was a challenge, but he quickly found a “warm, welcoming and supportive” family with his teammates on the men’s soccer team.

Bellosta’s initial plan was to study business administration and marketing at Newman for two years and then transfer.

“But God had different plans for me,” he said. “I really liked it at Newman — the campus, the people, the team — everything.”

Bellosta '24, men's soccer
Bellosta ’24, men’s soccer

Bellosta witnessed several changes and trials since he began his Newman journey in 2019.

“I experienced new teammates every year, a teammate passing, a new coach, COVID, losing and winning seasons,” he said. “I experienced leading the team as the captain for two years, having to lead by example and not commit a lot of mistakes because people looked up to me. I experienced bringing my brother here to play alongside me.”

He continued, “God has allowed me to experience a lot of different things at Newman, and those experiences have shaped the man that I am today.”

Leading the soccer team taught him to work with people from different parts of the world, to listen and adapt to their needs and “to not ask someone to do something I’m not willing to do.” He is confident these lessons will equip him to live out Newman’s mission wherever he goes.

Men's tennis player Luca Penteado and men's soccer player Bellosta at 2024 Newman commencement.
Men’s tennis player Luca Penteado and men’s soccer player Bellosta at 2024 Newman commencement.

That next chapter starts in a familiar location, as Bellosta is now studying his master’s in data science at Newman University. 

“So I’ll be here the next year or two,” he said with a smile. “Newman is really a home for me and Wichita has become my second home.”


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