Eduardo “Rico” Irizarry Carlos De La Cruz
Freshman – Age 19 Freshman – Age 18
Lajas, Puerto Rico Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Sports Management Major Marketing Major
Talk about taking a campus, a team and the Commonwealth Coast Conference by storm. Eduardo Irizarry, 19, and Carlos De La Cruz, 18, have quickly become two well-known names on campus and on the tennis court.
Coming from two different areas of the world, both had to make a huge decision when it came to furthering their education after high school. Irizarry and De La Cruz both came to Nichols to achieve two goals: earn a better education and facing some of the best tennis competition in the region. So far both have made great strides in achieving both of those goals.
Both Eduardo and Carlos saw a great opportunity ahead of them when they were given the chance to study in the U.S. Not only did these avid tennis players see better competition in this region, they saw a chance to have a career in America and an opportunity to experience a different lifestyle. Coming from two predominantly Spanish speaking countries, Irizarry and De La Cruz quickly had to learn the American culture and the English language.
With change comes challenges and Eduardo and Carlos have both had to face challenges during their freshman year. Eduardo discussed learning to live by himself requires him to know how to manage his time and money. He also states, “I miss not being able to see my parents and friends and not being in the Puerto Rican weather. I also miss the food and the girls.”
Carlos faced and is still facing different challenges than Eduardo seen as he has only been here one semester compared to Eduardo’s two semesters. But he has made great strides in learning the English language and has come a long way. “In the beginning of the semester I was unsure of myself and couldn’t participate in class since I didn’t know much English. Now I know a lot more English and have an easier time participating in class,” Carlos said. He also noted that since he has learned more English he has been able to bring some of his grades up by two letter grades since mid terms.
Irizarry and De La Cruz both fell in love with the Nichols campus, as well as the community that the school has to offer. They both stated – as many people do – that Nichols is a small but close community. They both agreed that Nichols has a beautiful campus that is appealing to students. Eduardo noted that his favorite class has been Introduction to Sports Management which is taught by Dr. Leonard Samborowski. On the other hand, Carlos loves Around the World class which is instructed by Dr. Dorrie Nang.
Many of us know Eduardo and Carlos as the two tennis stars; one always with a racquet and ball on hand, the other walking around with a smile and willing to shake anyone’s hand. Both have had tremendous success on the court and continue to get better. Irizarry has taken home Commonwealth Coast Conference (C.C.C.) Men’s Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week numerous times during both the Fall and Spring. He also earned C.C.C. Second Team honors in both Singles and Doubles. In just one semester, De La Cruz has also gained accolades around the conference. He earned C.C.C. Rookie of the Week honors on April 21st. Most recently he earned Honorable Mention for Singles within the conference.
Since they spend a lot of their time on the court, they both said Coach Paul Brower has had the biggest impact on them since coming to Nichols. Irizarry and De La Cruz both said, “Brower’s the man!” Coach Brower, also the Dean of Admissions at Nichols, speaks highly of his two young stars that have helped bolster the team as one of the elites in the C.C.C. for Men’s Tennis. Brower said of Irizarry, “Eduardo is by far the best doubles player in the conference. His flare on the court is unlike any other. Carlos is energetic and is hard-working both on an off the court.” Brower, Irizarry and De La Cruz took home the championship in C.C.C. Championship match on May 4th.
After speaking to Eduardo and Carlos, I learned that they each wanted to gain and accomplish the same things from their time at Nichols. They want to gain a lot more knowledge in each of their majors so they can find a job right out of college. Both are working towards earning their Bachelor’s Degree in May 2016. And of course, by the time they graduate they want to be playing at the top of their game in terms of tennis. Look for Eduardo and Carlos to become two of the faces of this campus, the tennis team and the C.C.C. in these next few years as they work towards their dream.