Get To Know – Kaitlyn Stumpf

Koda Hedrick, Staff Reporter

“GET TO KNOW” FEATURES: Throughout the fall 2020 semester the Fairmont State Athletics Department will be posting “get to know” features to allow fans, donors, parents, and fellow student-athletes to get to know members of the 17 athletics programs at Fairmont State University. For today’s feature, we sat down with junior swimmer Kaitlyn StumpfStumpf competes in freestyle events for the women’s swim team. 
Why did you choose Fairmont State? 

“It was definitely the swim team that brought me here, knowing the atmosphere with them and how great of a team they were kind of got me to come here. When visiting the campus, I knew I wanted somewhere smaller and more personal – a larger University would not be for me. I just loved the campus and swim team when I came on my visit.” 

Can you tell me about your story/journey, about your family and where you were raised? 

“I was born in Weirton, WV. I was a Christmas baby, so that was a cool thing for my hometown. I was raised by my mom and dad, Steve and Pamela Stumpf. My mom was a police officer when I was growing up and my dad was an electrician. My mom later became a probation officer to be able to spend more time with the family. I started swimming in high school. I had a lot of great teachers there who motivated me to major in elementary education – which I am here at Fairmont State. I did my four years of swimming there and that put me in swimming here.”

You were awarded both the Female Iron Falcon Award and the Female PRIDE Award last season for the swimming team … What do those awards mean to you? 

“Those mean a lot to me. For the Iron Falcon Award, that means a lot to me that my team and coaches could see the work that I was doing not only inside the pool but also outside the pool. There is a lot you can do in swimming to improve yourself outside of the pool, whether it be through stretching or rolling out or different types of dry lands that we’ve been doing here.” 
“The PRIDE Award to me is like the biggest honor because that is scored from both our team and our coaches. I scored people as well. We score each other in five categories: Positivity, Responsibility, Integrity, Determination, and Effort. As a whole, I guess I got the highest score on the team. So to me, that means a lot coming from my team and my coaches that they saw me at a high standard in all of those areas.” 

Biggest moment(s) thus far in and away from the pool? 

“Our training trip is always a really big thing for us. It’s the hardest week. We usually get to go to Florida in January. We go to Melbourne, Florida, and we train at Florida Tech. The reason we go to Florida is because it’s going to be the hardest week of practice and we usually do practices that none of us have ever done before. Things that are really out of our comfort zone. On our training trip, we get to bond with people on another level than we usually do throughout the year. You cry in your goggles together when practices are really hard. In addition, we always have a big team bonding event on the beach, and I just feel that I get connected with the team more than ever when go on the that trip every year.” 

What has it been like for you to be coached by Patrick Snively? 

“I feel very lucky to have Coach Pat as our coach with his experience and everything he does for the community, the school, and people around him. He’s definitely a reason I wanted to come to Fairmont State. He knows so much. You can ask him about anything and he would either give you the answer or he would find someone to help you. He definitely reflects that on the team. He helps us know how to become more respectful people, how to be role models for other people. I’ve learned so much from him already, and  not only about swimming but also about so many other things in my life. I feel very lucky and blessed to have him as a coach.” 

Your team has finished as runner-up in the MEC Tournament the past two seasons. What has it been like to be a part of that success? 

“It’s been really great. We’ve worked really hard the past two seasons. Last year, we were really close to winning both on the men’s and women’s side, and that made us see the things that we needed to work on a little bit more. This year, if we have a conference meet, we know the things that as a team and individually we need to work on to improve our scores. Having that success under our belt is really good, but of course, we are always shooting to be the champions of the MEC.” 

Can you describe your relationships with your teammates? 

“I would say we are all pretty close. We all try to hangout outside of practice all the time. And I would say even now, when we can’t see each other in person, we are all always texting in our group messages and supporting each other. I think our team atmosphere is really close.” 

What does it mean for you to be a Falcon? 

“It’s an honor. I feel really grateful that I have a place to swim at and a school to represent. To be a Falcon for me is to try to be a role model whether it be to other schools or other athletes. I would say all of those things on the PRIDE Award, trying to be positive, taking responsibility, having integrity, having determination, and showing effort are all what it means to be a Falcon.” 

What are your expectations for this spring? 

“Right now, I am just being hopeful that we get to have a season and have meets. Even if our meets become virtual or if they are postponed, I think just having some type of season is what I’m hopeful for. But if not, I know as a team we will still stay really strong. We’ve been set back quite a few times from practice and we’ve still all found ways to either get in other kinds of workouts or find a pool to swim in. I just expect our team to make the best of whatever situation that we have.” 

Major: Elementary Education; Concentration: Math 5-9. Expected Graduation: Spring 2022. Future Plans? 

“After I get my undergrad I want to go to graduate school here at Fairmont State. I know that the teaching education master’s program is really good here at Fairmont. After graduation, I would like to get a job in the area as a teacher.” 

Activities/interests outside of school and sports? 

“I like hanging out with my teammates. And, I have a dog named Bear, an English bulldog, who I love very much. He’s not here with me, he’s still at home so whenever I get to see him I love to spend a lot of time with him. Even when I’m not with him, I’m always looking at pictures and even annoying my teammates with pictures of him.” 

Have you been able to stay engaged and connected with coaches and teammates during this time with the restrictions during the pandemic? 

“Yeah I would say so. Our coaches have been amazing during this time of unknown. As soon as COVID hit and quarantine started they sent out emails every week, each weekday. We had Coach Pat’s positive check-ins. One of our assistant coaches is Ashley Yelinek and she’s a doctor. She would send us cool health tips or things that we can work on. And then our other assistant coach Alex (Petry) would send us different things that we could work on in and outside of the pool. And we had Coach Quentin (Mouser) sending us quips and quotes every week. And, Coach Sabrina (Buhagiar) would send us different workouts for the week. In addition, we would have monthly Zoom meeting just to talk about how things are going for us and updates on what our season would look like. Our coaches helped us stay connected while we weren’t on campus.” 

Do you feel like your experience as a student-athlete has been any less meaningful because of the pandemic? 

“I don’t think so. I think if anything, now it’s more meaningful and I can see the privilege that we had before with little things, like having access to a pool or being able to be with all my teammates at once. And now when I get those little things, like being able to get into a pool or having a place to workout or even just being coached by my coaches, it means so much more to me than even last year. If anything, now it all means a little more to me and I’m much more grateful when I do get the opportunity for the things that before seemed almost like obligations.” 

What has it been like for you as a student and person with online classes, masks, and limited social life? 

“It was definitely hard to adjust to in the beginning. But, I think the school has made it as easily accessible as possible. They provided us with masks and my teachers have been really amazing whether they changed their class to online or in person. They are all being very understanding about everything. Overall, I’ve had a pretty good experience with it, even though it’s an odd circumstance.” 

If there was one thing you would want people to know about you, what would it be? 

“Recently, I joined an organization called The Hidden Opponent. A fellow student-athlete on the volleyball team, Kelsey Moeller, is the Head Campus Captain and I am a Campus Captain. The Hidden Opponent is all about student-athlete mental health and raising awareness for that. As a member of THO, there’s different things that we will do on campus for student-athletes and non-student-athletes, just anyone who is wanting to know more about mental health and breaking the stigma of student-athlete mental health. That’s something that I’d like people to know so they can raise more awareness for it too.”