Student-athlete couple supports each other

Eric S. Torres

Couples are not uncommon on the Sacramento State campus, but student-athlete couples are fewer by the number.

For couple senior soccer goalkeeper Kimberly Mata and junior football defensive lineman Nick Mazza a benefit includes having someone who understands the physical and educational pressures involved in being a student-athlete.

“I think it works well for us because our schedules are both packed so we never get bored of each other because we always have something to talk about whether it’s a weight session, or a practice session or injuries,” Mata said.

Mata, who has been the fulltime starting goalkeeper for the Hornets the past two seasons, said being a student-athlete means everything to her and she treats it like a job. For Mata, growing up and playing soccer was much different than what it has become at the collegiate level.

“Growing up, you just had like a basic goal and some lines and some cones and that’s all it was,” Mata said. “It means a lot because a lot of people don’t get that opportunity.”

Mazza, who has been playing football for the Hornets for a total of four years, including the past two as a starter on the defensive line, said he enjoys being an athlete and representing the school on game days.

“It’s very rewarding being a student-athlete here at Sac State,” Mazza said. “It has given me a lot of opportunities that I’m just happy to be a part of.”

Despite demanding schedules with their respective sports, they find time to cheer for each other on the playing field.

“I’m his number one fan because I’ve heard all of his stories from practice and how hard he’s working,” Mata said. “So, to see him on the field watching him do something that he loves, really makes me happy.”

Mata and Mazza said they both cherish the free time that they have together as the two of them said they enjoy doing homework, as school remains a top priority for both athletes.

“It is tough because we both have different schedules, but the best thing is we both un- derstand what we’re going through,” Mazza said. “When all our business is done like school and sports, we find time to do things together like go to dinner or to a movie.”

Mata has been a positive influence on Mazza, not just on the field but off it as well.

“She helps me study, she makes me do a lot better in school that’s for sure,” Mazza said. “When we have to do homework, we’ll do it together.”

Senior defender Kassi Anast, who is not only teammates with Mata but also roommates, said that it’s always nice to date another athlete as they are supportive of one another.

“I know he texts her before every game and she does the same,” Anast said. “This weekend we’re on the road, and they [football team] had a game on Saturday, and she was keeping up with the live stats when we were at our team dinner.”

Mata has made a significant impact on Mazza’s football career at Sac State as he said that she understands what he goes through.

“Even before we were dating, we were friends so she’s always been there [at home games],” Mazza said. “Obviously, when we started dating she was much more involved, and it’s really nice to know that if I have a bad game she understands how to talk to me.”