For today’s college athletes, there is an expectation that committing to a sport will completely dominate a student’s life. Scholarly pursuits — the purpose of college in the first place — must come second. When beginning her college search, rising freshman Regina Bonvissuto was disappointed to see this prioritization of sports over everything else at school after school. A basketball star in her own right, Bonvissuto wanted to continue playing the sport she loved but not at the expense of a high-quality education centered on Christ. Finally, she found what she was looking for at Christendom College, where she will study and compete this fall as one of the college’s Thomas S. Vander Woude Scholarship-winners.
Bonvissuto’s pursuit of a school where she could compete athletically without sacrificing a normal college experience drove her throughout high school. A native of Kingston Springs, Tennessee, Bonvissuto studied through Seton Home Study School while competing with the Nashville Central Christian Warriors. Her great success with the team — including All-Conference, All-Tournament, and All-Region Player Awards — gave her the resume to compete at the very highest level of college sports. But for Bonvissuto, she wanted more from her college experience than just time on the basketball court.
“I believe a Catholic education, both inside and outside the classroom, is important because it provides a supportive rather than a toxic environment for learning, and I love that,” says Bonvissuto. “Our modern society has greatly declined in its moral values and general lifestyle, and yet very few schools anymore provide the formation or reasoning skills to equip their students to face these problems head on.”
As Bonvissuto continued to excel on the court and in the classroom, including a 4.0 GPA, she began to explore whether Christendom was the school that would fit her expectations for college. Her sister, Maria, graduated from the school in 2015, while her cousin currently attends the school as well. Their recommendations encouraged her to visit and then apply. In the spring, her hard work resulted in her earning the college’s coveted Thomas S. Vander Woude Athletic Scholarship, which she quickly accepted.
Named for former athletic director Thomas Vander Woude, the scholarship is awarded each year to select freshmen who embody the values that Vander Woude emphasized in his own life: Christlike leadership and heartfelt service through sports, in the classroom, and on campus. Vander Woude’s emphasis on the balance between school and sports inspired Bonvissuto, giving her the final push to choose Christendom for college.
“Most of the upper-level NCAA programs and NAIA programs require a level of commitment which totally dominates the student-athlete’s entire life, but Christendom provided a way for me to continue the sport I am passionate about without sacrificing a normal college experience or a high-quality education,” says Bonvissuto. “Christendom’s program offered a solid balance between athletic life and student life, and this appealed to me because I could continue playing basketball at the college level while still being able to pursue my other interests, such as music and volunteering, and also remain actively involved on campus.”
In her years leading up to college, Bonvissuto was active in volunteer work throughout Nashville, Tennessee, providing Christian outreach to inner-city youth, giving tours and historic demonstrations at a local plantation, and serving as a member of the Junior Legion of Mary as well. She hopes to continue serving others as a member of Christendom’s student body — something she is passionate about that she would not have the time for if she was a part of a different school’s athletic program.
“I believe a Catholic education will be useful to me because I am interested in possible pursuing a career in teaching or youth ministry and as I will potentially be influencing many young people, it is critical I be grounded well in my faith and mature as a person during my college years by surrounding myself with positive Catholic influences,” concludes Bonvissuto.
Bonvissuto wanted more from her four years of college than just time in a basketball jersey. Thanks to Christendom, she will be able to pursue studies that will help her learn the truth, live her faith, and thrive as a Catholic, all while competing at the varsity level and spending time volunteering in the community. With all those goals in mind, she will be busy during her four years of college. But for her, she would not have it any other way.