By Jill Bradford
Often times, the discipline and dedication required in collegiate athletics are, although on a lesser scale, compared to that of the military. No one at Merrimack may be able to draw such connections better than Cristina Lucin, a senior on the women's tennis team from Wesley Chapel, Florida, who spent her freshman year at West Point before transferring to the University of South Florida where she joined the Coast Guard, before finally ending up at Merrimack.
Last year, the tennis team finished 14-3 in singles and 13-4 in doubles, while making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. Although having graduated four seniors since last season, this year, the women's tennis team is ready for a larger title.
"Our 2010 goal is to make the NE-10 Tournament and try and get ranked in the NCAA East Region," head coach Chris Stevens commented. The team will be led by two seniors: Cristina Lucin and Caitlin Dunn.
Lucin's military experiences have played a significant role in her life and have proved transferable towards her success at Merrimack. She currently serves in the Coast Guard Reserves as a Petty Officer, First Class. Her experiences include working in the Sector Boston Command Center where she was responsible for search and rescue, pollution response, merchant arrivals and departures, and marine events. In 2005, Lucin deployed to Lake Charles, Louisiana for Hurricane Katrina recovery and response. In 2008, she was selected to deploy to Naples, Italy for a joint operation with the U.S. Navy.
Lucin's leadership impact on the squad has been commendable. "There is a direct correlation between Cristina's military history and on court success. She is very disciplined and determined and these traits have helped her on the court and will continue to do so in her daily life," Stevens commented. Although Lucin chose Merrimack for its academic programs, Division II tennis turned out to be the right fit for her compared to West Point's Division I team.
As a Criminology major, Lucin's worldly experience in the military has played a significant role. This past semester she took part in a Criminology Internship with Neighborhood Legal Services in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Associate Professor of Sociology Dr. Karen Hayden commented, "Cristina is a well-rounded person who balances a lot of responsibilities and makes it look easy. She excels at academics, on the tennis team, and with her work in the Coast Guard."
Upon graduation, Lucin plans to get her PhD in Sociology by continuing her education in graduate school. She has applied to seven different programs throughout Boston, Providence, Albany, and Baltimore, to name a few.
Although the life of a student-athlete is demanding, Lucin believes her transition from the Coast Guard to Merrimack was fairly easy. "I was used to having a hectic schedule, so it was nice to have my schedule be constant. It was also nice being able to focus on school after being so focused on Coast Guard operations," Lucin said. The positive impact Merrimack athletics have had on Lucin in her short time here is obvious when she concluded, "Merrimack provided me a great opportunity to play tennis in college again. It's definitely the end to a large chapter in my life. Being able to compete as part of a team has been an invaluable experience."