NYU Retired Athletes Don’t Stop Competing

Tyler Crews
Cassie Steinberg at a match against Brandeis University on Nov. 5 2016

NYU athletics continue far beyond an athlete’s graduation date. Many former NYU athletes pursue their love of competition following the conclusion of their college careers. Whether they choose to play professionally or simply use the lessons learned through playing sports at NYU in their everyday lives, for some, the game never ends.

Some former NYU athletes chose to dedicate their lives to and shape their careers around the sport they were passionate about in college. One of NYU athletics’ most notable alumni is Mika’il Sankofa, previously known as Michael Lofton. Sankofa excelled in sabre fencing at NYU, winning four consecutive individual championships in 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987. Sankofa advanced his career following his college graduation, becoming a three-time Olympian and 10-time National Team Sabre Champion. He now runs his own fencing club called Thrust Fencing Academy in Nyack, New York.

NYU men’s swimming star Brad Thornton, who graduated in 2008, also made a career out of his love for his collegiate sport. Thornton coached for Stevens Institute for Technology for eight years, and during that time he helped privatize the SIT swim team and founded the Hoboken Masters swim team. He took his passion for athletic competition to volunteer work as well, volunteering as director for the New York City Triathlon for several years.

While many NYU athletics alumni continue in their respective sports, others choose to follow a different route, swapping out their college sport for alternative athletic activities. Stern graduate and former women’s soccer player Sophie Frank completed an Ironman Triathlon less than one year after her graduation. While Frank’s experience as an NYU soccer player assisted her in this feat, she also found that playing a sport in college helped her beyond the athletic sphere.

“Playing soccer at NYU taught me how to sacrifice for a team and be a good listener,” Frank said. “I also learned how to demonstrate absolute grit and mental toughness when the greater unit needed me. I’ve been grateful to have these skills as I embark on new adventures and work with new colleagues to achieve something, often sacrificing something in order to make it happen.”

Frank’s former teammate and fellow 2017 graduate Cassie Steinberg agreed that her experience on the soccer team taught her many valuable lessons about teamwork and time management that she believes will be with her for the rest of her life, in every facet of her life. Steinberg decided to continue her academic career at NYU after receiving her undergraduate degree at Steinhardt, and she is now completing the Dietetic Internship program and getting her masters in Clinical Nutrition.

“Because I’m working in the health and fitness field, my collegiate soccer experience is applicable almost all the time,” Steinberg said.

When she is not studying, Steinberg works at a sports-performance-based gym called Tone House.

“This place was literally my saving grace transitioning out of 18 years of soccer,” Steinberg said. “It’s tough because [soccer] becomes part of your identity for so long, and then suddenly it’s gone. So it’s amazing to be around a group of like-minded athletes and people who want to train like athletes.”

Ultimately, whether former NYU athletes continue on with their sports or commit themselves to new careers, their experiences both on and off the field contribute greatly to their goals and successes after graduation.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 27 print edition. Email Tyler Crews at [email protected] 

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