From One Hawk to Another
The life of a Hartwick student-athlete can be a demanding, but rewarding experience. Every day presents a new challenge that requires a positive mindset. Here, Stella Giustino ‘25 captures the experiences of fellow Hartwick Hawks.
Nick Cacciola ‘24
With dreams of pursuing the certified public accounting (CPA) track and becoming a successful accountant in the future, Nick Cacciola ‘24 felt Hartwick was the perfect place to do it! Having an athletic background from Shoreham-Wading River High School, Cacciola wanted to continue playing lacrosse at the collegiate level while also earning a degree in both accounting and business administration.
Since Cacciola entered Hartwick during the “COVID year” – 2020 – he experienced his first year in the most untraditional way for college students. He was able to come on campus, but all classes were held via zoom. And while he missed out on a real first season for lacrosse, he was still able to meet his teammates and become close friends.
As a sophomore, he was able to have a normalized time with in-person classes and a real lacrosse season. As an underclassman, he helped his team be competitive and successful in the Empire 8 conference. He earned a spot on the Empire 8 second team all-conference and the all-tournament teams. As a junior, he continued having a powerful presence as a defenseman for the men’s lacrosse team, moving up onto the Empire 8 as a part of the first team all-conference by the end of the season and earning an academic all-district award.
Cacciola and his fellow lacrosse teammates work on being good teammates for one another everyday by pushing each other in practices and games while also being supportive friends. They spend a lot of time together on and off the field as well as being involved in Oneonta’s community. Throughout the years, his team has been involved in helping run concessions and working on the sidelines of Hartwick’s football games. They volunteer with the annual pumpkin carving event at the Oneonta town library, and help clean around the town’s golf grounds and the school’s campus. He found these volunteering opportunities as, “a great way for the team to come together and have a good impact on the community.”
Taking on an upperclassman role, Cacciola has involved himself in academic opportunities while staying on top of his studies. One unique program that he has joined is Hartwick’s IR Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). This program offers on-hands learning and volunteer opportunities for students who receive their IRS tax preparation certification. They help provide a free tax service to the local community, all overseen by Professor Li Luo. In spring of 2023, Cacciola was a basic preparer for VITA and plans to continue assisting the program during the upcoming spring of 2024 as a quality reviewer. While doing this with his final year, he is ready to have one last lacrosse season and finish up his college education on the CPA track.
Sareena DiCerbo ‘24
Being the family orientated person Sareena DiCerbo ‘24 is, she knew she wanted the next chapter of her life to include the most important fundamentals of her life: excellent academics, quick access to her family, and basketball. And Hartwick fit right in with that vision!
Even before becoming a Hartwick student, DiCerbo knew this was where she wanted to be. During her overnight visit as a high school student, she created meaningful connections and could see the lifelong friendships she was going to have by choosing Hartwick and being a part of the women’s basketball team. “All the teammates I met welcomed me with open arms,” she said. “And I knew this was a good fit for me! I knew I loved being around these people who were as close as a family.”
On and off the court, her basketball teammates share a special bond with one another. Their chemistry builds their success as they work together effortlessly and they are always looking to challenge each other in order to reach their full potential. The importance of their off-the-court friendships does not go unnoticed as they are constantly together around campus. These bonds DiCerbo has formed with each and every one of her teammates is something she will cherish forever and is grateful for Hartwick bringing them all together.
Majoring in criminal justice with a minor in forensic science has been managed in her balance of academics and athletics. During her time at Hartwick, she earned the Philip S. Wilder, Jr. Award as well as earned spots on both the Dean’s List and President’s List. Making the most of any free time is how DiCerbo gets everything done! Prioritizing the completion of assignments and studying early, then setting time aside at night for basketball practices and lifts. After her daily responsibilities are fulfilled, she makes sure to find time to relax and recover. Being mentally focused keeps her on track as she has continuously worked for her high GPA and met the academic expectations of her coaches.
DiCerbo is excited to carry out the rest of her time at Hartwick and leave behind an impact with her team and professors. As graduation approaches, she is interested in getting involved in investigative work, applying everything she has experienced and learned towards her future career.
Brianna Liebro ‘25
Looking for a nearby college to start the next chapter of her life, Brianna Liebro ‘25 chose Hartwick as the place to continue with her education and passion for lacrosse.
Pursuing a double-major degree in business administration and digital marketing in addition to a cybersecurity minor, Liebro is appreciative of Hartwick’s wonderful academic opportunities. As the College is always looking to expand its programs with offerings like digital marketing and cybersecurity. Liebro has been able to take full advantage of these new courses.
For Liebro, the best feeling at Hartwick is being recognized and valued as a student. Small class sizes allow for students to have close relations with their professors and understand lectures more personally. With this, Liebro has challenged herself with heavy course loads. Hard work and balance keeps her focused on her academics as she plans to have a career in either the digital marketing or cybersecurity world. Academic excellence has been something Liebro has strived for and since being at Hartwick, she has been named to Dean’s Lists and the President’s List and is recipient of the Philip S. Wilder, Jr. Award, which recognizes academic distinction.
Hartwick’s women’s lacrosse team has become Libero’s family away from home. On and off the field her team spends valuable time together. They work hard in practices and games with the goal of coming out on top of the Empire 8 conference and they work hard at being good teammates through team-bonding activities and fun Friday training sessions.
Liebro has been a force to be reckoned with as a defensive player. Earning a third-team All Conference spot in the Empire 8 during the 2023 season, she is eager to continue playing and making an impact on her team as she has two more seasons left in her collegiate career.
Hartwick has provided Liebro with many opportunities in both academics and athletics. One of those unique experiences was participating in a J Terms. Liebro took a Global Fashion Industry course, which took her to Florence, Italy. Being able to learn about fashion while embracing a different culture gave Liebro a new take on learning as she was able to experience what she was studying first-hand and in-person. The experience was one of her favorite things she has been involved in and would recommend anyone interested getting a global perspective to definitely sign up!
Corey Quomony ‘25
Coming from the large school of Bel Air high school in Baltimore, Maryland, Corey Quomony ‘25, wanted to experience college as a student-athlete within a close-knit community. Hartwick was the perfect place for him as he found a spot for himself on both the men’s track and field team and the football team, while having an interest in the public health academic department.
Initially, Quomony felt the task of balancing his academic responsibilities with his year-around athletics was overwhelming. Being a student-athlete is definitely a lot to juggle; you have to use time management in order to get through everything, this includes multiple classes a day, practice, games, coaches meetings, etc. Throughout his years here, Quomony has created schedules for himself to keep him organized and stay on top of his academic and athletic duties.
Not only has he kept himself busy on a sports team during every season, Quomony also finds ways to involve himself in the school’s community. He has been an active member of the Black Student Union and as of fall 2023 was selected as the club’s secretary. This leadership role has allowed him to build connections and participate in activities.
Since his very first day at Hartwick, Quomony has found the athletic community to be very welcoming! Having coaches he can rely on in order to keep him on track as he plans to pursue a career in public health as well as supportive teammates who have made becoming part of a new team easy, he has pushed himself to work hard and perform to the best of his abilities.
What’s next for Quomony? As a third-year student, he is looking into future opportunities in both academics and athletics, including new courses, internships, and upcoming track and football seasons.
Boden Tito ‘27
Ready to advance in his academic career and passion for swimming, Boden Tito ‘27 selected Hartwick as his future home. Emerging from Southington High School in Connecticut, Tito was eager to make the transition from high school to college. Hartwick presented itself as his best option! It offered an excellent variety of academic pathways while also being one of the top competitive swim and dive programs in Division III.
As a current first-year student, Tito has enjoyed his time so far. Being a part of the swim team has brought on many new activities that has helped get him involved in the community, not only on campus, but around Oneonta as well. Volunteering has always been a big focus for his team and they regularly participate in different events for good causes to help make an impact on others around them. This has included cleaning up local highways in Oneonta and hosting and setting up the annual For-Du Run. The For-Du Run is an event hosted every fall by Dale Rothenberger, the head coach for Hartwick’s swim and dive coach. The run is held in memory of Rothenberger’s son, who had been lost due to addiction, and funds raised support those that are struggling.
Tito puts much time and effort into this new lifestyle as he prioritizes his studies with his swim team responsibilities. His swim coaches put trust into their student-athlete to get their work done without requiring any extra study hall hours or tutoring; however, these are essential resources that many Hartwick students take full advantage of when needed.
Fitting in with the upperclassmen teammates has been easy with the swim and dive team. Their collection of well-rounded young men and women have founded Tito with great advice and insight from his upperclassmen. They keep each other accountable in and out of the pool; only wanting to see success for one another.
A long future at Hartwick is in sight for Tito as he still has three and half more years to make the most of his college experience. With the rest of his time here, Tito is determined to excel in the classroom and in the pool. With plans to get involved with different academic courses and potential internships in hopes of finding a major that fits him best and allows him to find a fulfilling career after he graduates.
Cooper Francis ‘25
As Cooper Francis ‘25 finished his time at Chaminade High School, he wanted to make the most of his next upcoming opportunity: being a part of Hartwick’s great business program while continuing with athletics. Not only was he grateful to experience playing basketball at the collegiate level, but his hard work and dedication allowed him to also play on the lacrosse team. Making him a dual sport student-athlete!
It was a challenge that he was most certainly up for. Balancing two sports was nothing new to Francis and had been a crucial piece of his life. Grateful for the opportunities that the coaches and the athletic training staff have provided for him, he wanted to bring this into his college experience and embrace the new environment.
Knowing that first-year students start at the bottom, he was ready to make a name for himself in the classroom and in athletics. And that he did. Immediately. Drawing inspiration from his favorite athlete, Bo Jackson, he had the mindset that if an athlete could manage two professional sports, could he do the same during his time at Hartwick!
From the jump, Francis was recognized for his work ethic and his sportsmanship through various awards, including the Empire 8 Men’s Basketball Sportsman of the Year, the Tim O’Brien Memorial Award for Most Outstanding Male Freshman Athlete and the Nick Lambros Coaches Award. Not only was Francis excelling in the athletic world, he made sure to keep his priorities in order as he stayed on top of his studies. This being easily identified as he earned the Phillip S. Wilder, Jr. Award for Academic Distinction as well as being named to College Sports Communicators Academic All-District Team and Empire 8 President’s List.
As a person who values the importance of learning, he strived for improvement everyday whether it be in practices, games, or in classroom sessions. Francis set goals for himself in order to stay motivated and have something to accomplish. After making the most of his past two years as an underclassman, he was ready to lead by example and have others learn from his success.
Francis had stepped into a leadership role as he reached his junior year. Appreciative of all his teammates on both teams, he values the friendships that have come from the experience and the supportive coaching staffs. Becoming a team captain is now the opportunity he is eager to make the most of. Francis sees the importance of having strong, reliable bonds with his teammates, which will enable them to flourish with all their unique goals and passions while being a support system for one another.
As Francis looks forward to the rest of his time at Hartwick, he wants to continue growing and working towards his goals. Making the most of all his opportunities, he plans to pursue valuable internship experiences that will prepare him for life after graduation as he dreams to leave an impact on wherever he goes in life.
Phoebe Olson ‘26
Moving away from home may be frightening for some high school graduates, but not Phoebe Olson ‘26. Upon her graduation from Jamestown High School in North Dakota, she was ready to begin her journey here at Hartwick.
Olson jumped into the fast-paced college experience right away as a student-athlete starting her tennis preseason. Feeling excited, she wanted to make an impact on the team. As both: a single player and doubles partner, she fought hard to bring success to the Hartwick Women’s Tennis Team. Dominating on the court as she excelled in the transition from high school to collegiate athletics, Olson earned the title Empire 8 Rookie of the Year.
Balance is a concept done well as she manages to stay on top of her academics as a double major in biochemistry and mathematics, while also being involved in Hartwick’s community, not only in athletics but in Greek Life as well.
Gamma Phi Delta has become a second family for Olson. It is not common for student-athletes to be involved in Greek Life; however, Olson is not just an ordinary student-athlete. Forming strong bonds with her sisters of Gamma Phi Delta while she has upheld the prestige expectations of sisterhood. The tight-knit relations with professors and classmates has been what Olson has appreciated most.
As she sought a college that would bring in many different opportunities. Hartwick was the place for her to be! Olson has been dedicated to getting the most of her college experience and plans to continue looking for new engaging moments all around campus. Internships and higher education are in the plans for her in hopes of one day becoming a surgeon and making an impact in the medical world.
Noah Hurt ‘24
As Noah Hurt ‘24 wrapped up his high school experience, he could’ve never predicted how involved he would get in the Hartwick community. Growing up playing sports his whole life, he knew he wanted to continue his love of football and make an impact not only on his chosen sport, but the College as a whole.
Hurt embarked on his journey in a very untraditional way as the Covid-19 pandemic was still in full effect. Feeling isolated and disjointed from his teammates and peers, he tried making every effort to meet people and be active around campus.
As things started to return to normal, Hurt began to pave his path. He found a passion for mentoring when he took on the role of a resident advisor. He learned how to manage people and resolve conflicts not only with his Hilltop residents, but also with his football teammates. On the field, he tried out different positions on both the offensive and defensive lines, finding his calling as an offensive lineman during his upperclassmen year as well as leading the Hartwick Hawks as their captain.
Continuing with his growing interest in leadership, he went after political positions at Hartwick in order to make change happen. Not only was he nominated as a Faculty Scholar, but he was also honored with the John Christopher Hartwick award. Making him the first student athlete to become president of the Student Government Association.
With the help of great facility members and staff, Hurt, a criminal justice and political science double-major, wants to make the most of his final year in order to better the Hartwick community. He has taken advantage of every opportunity available at Hartwick as this has been the place that has allowed him to grow into a better person and help him visualize a future career where he can continue to make a difference in the world around him.
Abigail McCleary ‘24
Some may say that three years isn’t enough to have the whole college experience. But that does not apply to Abigail McCleary ‘24. Three years was just enough to make a name for herself at Hartwick. Coming from the large high school of Monroe Woodbury in New York, McCleary was seeking a close-knit college community where she could connect with her professors and peers, while also continuing with the student-athlete lifestyle. Hartwick was it.
Tackling the transition to college, McCleary dealt with the common struggle: homesickness. However soccer was a true outlet for her to find a support system and build her confidence as a leader, even as an underclassman. Finding opportunities to engage in the Hartwick community, she had a voice as president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee where she wanted to make change in the athletic community and help speak on behalf of her fellow student-athletes.
Immediately taking charge in improving the nutrition on campus, she worked with the dining hall committee. McCleary was also committed to her studies as a psychology and business double major. She is an active member of the honors program and as a teaching assistant for Psychology 101, helps students who share her passion for psychology.
The future is bright for McCleary as she wraps up her college experience. As a recipient of Hartwick’s Baker-Simpson fellowship, she took advantage of a valuable summer internship shadowing a clinical social worker. Not only has Hartwick provided McCleary with wonderful academic and athletic opportunities, it has brought her lifelong friendships and helped her find her true calling for the future: opening a clinical psychology practice where she can continue to help others and bring change.