Krista Aliscio '23 (left) and Jamie Yonker '22 (right) led their teams to the NCAA tournaments this Fall while handling the rigorous academics of graduate school.

Krista Aliscio ’23 anchored the women’s soccer team throughout its trip to the Division II Final Four this fall while working on her master's degree in school psychology. Jamie Yonker ’22 continued studies for her master's degree in exercise science even as she led Adelphi’s volleyball team back to the NCAA tournament. Both share how much work it took to excel as athletes and NE-10 Conference honor roll students.

How do graduate students who play for Adelphi teams manage overwhelming academic and athletic responsibilities?

Two stars who led their teams to NCAA tournaments this season explain how they were able to excel on the field and in the classroom.

Jamie Yonker, volleyball: the importance of discipline

Yonker jumps high off the court to serve the ball in a league volleyball match.

Yonker won her third consecutive NE-10 Libero of the Year award this Fall along with 2023 East Region Player of the Year honors.

Jamie Yonker ’22, who expects to earn her MS in Exercise Science this year, wants to be an exercise physiologist. As a member of Adelphi’s volleyball team, she has won the Northeast-10 Conference Libero of the Year award—given to the best player in the sport’s unique position for defensive specialists—for three straight years. She was also the 2023 East Region Player of the Year, as voted by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

This fall, she also led Adelphi to the NE10 regular season championship and to the NCAA East Regionals, where the team made it all the way to the semifinals. In 2022, she starred as the team made a historic run to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament.

Yonker is an outstanding scholar, too, landing on the NE10 Academic Honor Roll for all of her six semesters at Adelphi and earning NE10 Academic All-Conference recognition twice.

Yonker transferred to Adelphi in 2020 from New York Institute of Technology after she decided she wanted to major in exercise science instead of architecture and after NYIT cut its athletics program. Unfortunately, she made it to Adelphi just as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down campus and canceled the volleyball season. “It was a crazy ride, but I learned to just keep going,” Yonker said. “It was a textbook study in perseverance.”

“My coaches were a huge part of my success”

Playing college-level sports gave her discipline, she said. “My training and game schedule was tight,” she explained. “We lift, have practice and have classes. You have to squeeze your homework into the times you are not busy, so it forced me to get things done a couple of days in advance of the deadline.” Her friends who aren’t athletes would be cramming the night before an assignment was due or a test was scheduled. “There was no time for that in my world,” she said.

Yonker credits Danielle MacKnight, MA ’07, Adelphi women’s head volleyball coach, for teaching her the discipline she needed to succeed on and off the field. “My coaches were a huge part of my success,” she said. “They helped me with academics and, of course, they helped me with my volleyball career.”

Yonker wants to devote her career to helping people get back on their feet after heart surgery. She plans to go into cardio rehab, a specialty she learned about in a graduate-level class at Adelphi, where she got hands-on experience working with cardiac patients. “I wouldn’t have known that was an option without that class,” she said. “Now it’s my passion.”

Krista Aliscio, women’s soccer: the power of perseverance

Aliscio, wearing a green goalkeeper's uniform, dives to her left to save a shot that's rolling on the ground.

Alicio recorded 13 shutouts this season while leading the women’s soccer team to the NCAA semifinals and a final ranking of #4 in the nation.

Krista Aliscio ’23, who earned her undergraduate degree in psychology, is now in the MA in School Psychology program in the Adelphi University Gordon F. Derner School of Psychology.

As goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team, she set a single-season program record this year by recording 13 shutouts this season, allowing only 20 goals on 203 shots. The team went to the NCAA Final Four and finished No. 4 in the United Soccer Coaches Division II poll. She was a formidable scholar, too, landing on the NE10 Academic Honor Roll for five semesters.

Aliscio says her experience on the soccer field shaped her classwork and her character. “Athletics ties into who I am as a person,” she said. “Perseverance is a very big thing—we push through so many difficult times together and we’ve really grown together.”

She said the experience of playing high-level collegiate sports—specifically the teamwork that success depends on—has taught her what kind of school psychologist she wants to be. “I want to take care of people and show them that no matter what they’re going through, I’m there to support them.”

Aliscio said she has found inspiration and support in the Adelphi faculty. “Having strong role models at Adelphi has really enhanced my experience here,” she said, and that professor of psychology Lea Theodore, PhD, is the “best professor she’s ever had.” Aliscio is taking a seminar class with Dr. Theodore on the ethical responsibilities of school psychologists. “Everything that she teaches is from her experiences in the field as a school psychologist, and everything that she has ever said will definitely help me in my future.”

Support from Adelphi faculty made a difference

Aliscio tells of a time when she was on the road with the soccer team at an away game and attending one of Dr. Theodore’s classes virtually. “After the Zoom, she asked to speak to me and asked how I was doing and if I was okay,” Aliscio said. “She said ‘You look a little tired.'” Aliscio said she explained to her professor that she was going through a lot mentally and physically, that it was tough playing a college sport for six years, making it to a national tournament and juggling schoolwork on top of the demands of the sport. “Dr. Theodore was just so understanding with me and told me I didn’t even need to attend her class, I could just email her and say I needed to rest. I have so much respect for her, and she’s just amazing. She has modeled compassion for me and really paved the way for me as a future school psychologist.”

She credits her soccer coach, Brooke DeRosa, with being a component of her success on and off the field as well. “She really cares about all of us, our well-being on and off the field academically and athletically.” Aliscio said she learned grit and teamwork from her coach and fellow teammates. “The lessons on the field have really translated into lessons off the field. I’m ready to take on the world and be a great school psychologist.”

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