A Pre-Kindergarten - Grade 12 co-educational independent day school in Westchester County, New York

Melanie Mandell '16

Melanie graduated from Rye Country Day in 2016 and continued her academic and softball career at Middlebury College.


Athletics were always a huge part of my identity at RCDS. I played varsity field hockey, basketball, and softball for all four years of my high school career, and I loved every second of it. While I enjoyed my time playing field hockey and basketball and formed great relationships on both of those teams, I always felt most at home on a softball field, which is why I decided to stay on the diamond for my college career. I had a really successful run as an outfielder on the Middlebury softball team, making the All-NESCAC and All-Region teams three times and winning the 2019 NESCAC Player of the Year award, which was the first time a softball player from Middlebury had won the award. Now, I work at Boston Consulting Group, and I’m staying close to the game by heading up the BCG slowpitch team with one of my former Middlebury teammates.

How has your Wildcat experience as a student-athlete been influential throughout your life and contributed to your professional/personal success?

Having been a student-athlete at RCDS has hugely influenced my life, both in college and professionally. Playing a sport all three seasons, I had to really learn how to get my work done in the little free time that I had (I got home from practice around 6:00 p.m.). That experience taught me how to prioritize my work and how to work efficiently with limited time. Sometimes, I had to communicate with my teachers about my schedule, which is a really important skill as well. Those time management and communication skills have been really important in both my college and professional careers. 

What is a highlight of your career as a student-athlete, in college or beyond?

A highlight of my college career was definitely winning the NESCAC Player of the Year award after my junior season. I was really proud of that season because I had made a concerted effort over my first two seasons to improve a couple of things in my game, and it all came together that year. I’ve never felt as confident doing anything as I did that year in the batter's box—to have that recognized by all of the coaches in the league meant a lot to me.

What advice would you give to current students at RCDS looking to continue their career as a student-athlete?

I have two pieces of advice that I would give to anyone looking to pursue a career as a college athlete. The first is when you’re looking at schools, make sure you love the actual college and not just the team. The college is the place where you’ll basically be living and building a community for the next four years, so it’s really important to make sure you still feel like you’re still in the right place when you leave the athletic facilities. When I visited Middlebury, I fell in love with the school even before meeting my coach and the team, so I knew that if I liked the softball program, I would be making the right choice for my entire college experience.

My second piece of advice is to make sure you’re still having fun playing. I know a number of people who quit college sports after a season or two because they got burnt out and lost their love for the game. I loved my teams in high school and college because we knew how to have fun and play loose. Of course I was always focused on playing hard and winning, but I was also always cheering loudly and trying to have the most fun of anyone out there! At the end of the day, the things I remember most from my college career aren’t the wins and losses, but the really fun memories I made with my teammates.

What is the most valuable part of your time as a student-athlete at RCDS?

The most valuable gain from my time as a student-athlete at RCDS was the set of relationships I was able to form as a result of being on school sports teams. Some of my closest friends from RCDS are people I met while playing sports. These teammates were students with whom I would not necessarily have ever interacted if not for athletics, because I was not in their grade or in classes with them. I will be forever grateful to RCDS athletics for introducing me to some of the best people in my life, whether it be in the field hockey goal, on the basketball court, or in the softball dugout. 

Once a Wildcat, Always a Wildcat!

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