Getting out to vote

Athletes finding their own voices and voting for the first time

Sabrina Jiles, Staff Reporter

J.R. Hentges, sophomore intended nursing major, walks by the STUB VOTE sign on his way to vote. (Jacky Chen)

From having practice to planning the road to a championship, athletes are making a slight detour and heading to the voting polls.

For many college students, this will be the first presidential election that they are able to participate in. Seattle Pacific University athletes, like other students, are preparing to have their voices heard during the upcoming election.

Some athletes’ opinions of voting and their ideologies on it are influenced by their families and the areas they grew up in.

For athletes like Men’s Soccer junior Jordan Greenshield, their families may not heavily push political beliefs, allowing them to have their own political opinions.

“My parents I think were pretty good about keeping politics out of the conversation. Just so they can allow me to have my own opinion and make my own decisions and assumptions about things,” said Greenshield.

In preparation for the upcoming election, the athletes are taking time to do research on the candidates for the presidency.

For sophomore Women’s Soccer player Callie Rheamue, her background from where she has lived to family has influenced her ideologies slightly.

“I’ve been paying attention the whole time, watching the debates and everything like that. Pretty much the whole time it’s been going on,” said Rheamue.

In other cases, some athletes have been paying attention much more recently to the election. Greenshield has been paying more attention to the presidential debates, but didn’t pay as much attention to the Democratic and Republican conventions.

Other SPU athletes who voted in the 2016 election are getting prepared for their second election. Those athletes shed light on their 2016 presidential election experience.

“It was definitely a new experience. I wasn’t super invested I think,” said Women’s Rowing senior Tamyra Clark-Hoogstrate.

Clark-Hoogstrate describes how during the 2016 election, she didn’t do much research and just voted for a candidate. Fast forward to four years later, Clark-Hoogstrate is taking time to understand the politics behind who she is voting for.

“I think it’s really important to research both candidates and look at what they value and watch the debates and be educated on what their positions are on certain things. I’ve been doing a lot more research than I did last time, because I think it is a lot more important,” said Clark-Hoogstrate.

800m track runner J.R. Hentges submitting his ballot into the ballot box next to the SPU Book Store. (Jacky Chen)

The athletes stress the emphasis on voting in the upcoming election and want to make their voices be heard. Some athletes express that their vote does matter, as well as the vote of others.

“Maybe it’s just like growing up and like hearing all the time it’s your number one duty as a citizen to vote and to stand for the things that basically you believe in and you believe our government should focus on,” said Women’s Basketball Senior Ashlynn Burgess.

Burgess sees that after all the events that have shaped the year 2020, like COVID -19 and other tragedies, being able to vote is important. For Burgess, voting has a symbolic meaning.

“Voting for me is like, it’s hope in the midst of a lot of dark things that have happened. I think that seeing my peers vote and being able to vote myself just gives me hope,” stated Burgess.

With the topic of athletes throughout the country using their voice to advocate for voting, SPU athletes back the idea that their platform should be used. Whether the platform is big or small, they have the ability to influence someone.

“It’s important for athletes to vote as well. Just to set a good example because a lot of people look up to athletes and all that,” said Men’s Cross Country Senior Colin Boutin. “Maybe not so much like at our level but definitely at much higher levels and really on the professional level. It’s really important, but even then, even at our level it’s still some degree of people looking up to us and kind of seeing as more often than an average student.”

The athletes want to encourage their peers to vote if they are able, expressing the importance of knowing the candidate you are voting for and their policies.

“Make sure your voice is heard and like there are policies being made that affect everybody and so make sure you are read up on those policies and know what each candidate is going to do for those policies. Make sure you don’t vote for somebody who disagrees completely with something you believe in,” said Clark-Hoogstrate.

Other athletes want to acknowledge the fact that the ability to vote is a right of American citizens and should not be taken for granted.

“I just think that voting is a part of being an American and part of being in a society and being part of democracy and if you just don’t participate in that, then what’s the point,” said Greenshield.