Breaking the Transfer Stigma: Masters Pursuits and NBA dreams

The biggest criticism of the NCAA Transfer Portal, since it was created in 2019, has been the idea that it makes it too easy for student-athletes to transfer. Some people in the collegiate athletics sphere claim that this makes recruiting less valuable, and rewards players who sit on the bench for a year and decide that ‘coach isn’t giving me a shot’. While this may be the case in some instances because of the efficiency of the Transfer Portal getting players in, recruited (again), and out to their new school, a large number of transfer stories are success stories. 

Transferring can certainly be an ‘escape route’ for a player who may not be happy with their playing time or simply a player with a bad attitude who is looking for any excuse to get out. It can also be an incredible opportunity for players who were underrecruited, have success, and want to take it to the next level. These are the success stories that make transferring worth it, and show the true benefits of transferring and the Transfer Portal. 

The most recognizable example of this, for basketball fans at least, would be Duncan Robinson III. Robinson was underrecruited coming out of highschool as he should have been a mid-major D1 player at least, and he ended up starting his college basketball career at Division 3 Williams College. In his freshman year, Robinson brought Williams to the NCAA championship game while averaging nearly 30 points per game. His freshman season is widely regarded as “the best freshman season in D3 basketball history. This obviously made some noise in the college basketball world, and Robinson looked into transferring to a D1 school. He ended up at the University of Michigan and now plays for the Miami Heat in the NBA. This is a rare case of D3 player turned pro, but Duncan Robinson III likely would not have ended up in the NBA if he didn’t transfer after his freshman year. 

While we were unable to reach Robinson for comments on this blog, there is another student-athlete transfer story that is taking a slightly different, yet equally successful path. Sara Moeller, a women’s college lacrosse player, is transferring to Mount St. Mary’s from Stony Brook for her 6th year of college lacrosse. While she may not be heading to the NBA after this next season, Sara is going to have an opportunity to further her studies and obtain a Masters degree while also utilizing her final season of eligibility. We got the chance to talk to Sara about transferring, her career, and some other things. The Q&A is here below:

1. Why did you choose to transfer? 

I decided to transfer after finishing my Psychology Undergraduate Degree at Stony Brook and wanted to change my course of study and obtain a Master’s degree closer to home and family while still being able to finish my last year of eligibility. I learned so much being at a Top 20 program and I wanted to take my knowledge somewhere else.

2. What do you look for in a school that you are transferring into?

Definitely the variety of programs and courses that are offered and how it will benefit me in my life when school and lacrosse are done. The location is also very important because it will be considered my new home for the year or years to come and it’s important to be comfortable on and off the field. The size of the student body is also very important because it’s different from being in a lecture with 200 students, or a classroom with 25. So it really depends on your learning style as well and finding a place that will help you and want to see you succeed.

3. What helped you make your decision to complete a 6th year?

For the last 5 years, I have struggled with season ending injuries and I knew that after suffering a lot of hardships; mentally and physically, I could have easily given up and quit. In the back of my head, I knew that if I did not take this extra year, I would have regretted it. I also feel like I haven’t reached my full potential, so I want to end my career on a high note and have fun while doing it. I have learned so much from my previous 2 schools that I have attended, so being able to take that somewhere else is going to be exciting! Not a lot of people have ever heard of a lacrosse player playing 6 years, so it is also a humbling experience and grateful for this opportunity  

4. What has the dynamic been on teams where you have transferred to?

I learned from some of the best coaches in the world. They all had various coaching styles so adapting to their style of play was harder. But each team I played with, everyone wanted to win and get better everyday. If we were hit with adversity, we would stick together and grow on and off the field. Especially playing in New York and Maryland, the two hotbeds of lacrosse, the style of play was always intense and I was always pushed outside of my comfort zone. We were always together a majority of our day so it was always important to have good team comradery. 

5. What advice would you give for athletes who are looking to transfer? 

Do your research and be patient! It is so important to get out of your comfort zone and experience life in itself as well. Don’t base your decision on the name of the school or the division of the sport. Finding a team and coach that goes above your standards and  push you to be the best person and player you can be in the most important. Being a college athlete is a blessing. Not everyone has the opportunity to be in your shoes. Be grateful of the opportunities your current institution has given you and be ready to take them somewhere else!

The bottom line when it comes to transferring is this: if you’re doing it for the right reasons, like chasing your dream of playing professionally or pursuing a higher degree it can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Don’t get caught up in the negative stigma that surrounds transferred athletes, as everyone has their reasoning. Focus on putting yourself in the best situation to succeed, and there are plenty of resources at your disposal to do so! 


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