Senior basketball player Preston
Pena has traveled down a different path than most to become
a Division I athlete. Pena came to campus to pursue academics
and only through opportunity and sheer determination, he made
the team as a walk-on and became a Division I basketball player.
Pena answered some questions about his motivation, his basketball
and his career goals.
in a unique situation as a walk-on and two-year letter-winner
with the men's basketball program. What made you decide to try-out
for the team last October and what was it like to go through
a try-out and make the team?
Playing basketball at the Division I level has always been an
aspiration for me. I tried out twice prior to trying out last
October and I was never satisfied with the outcome. Consequently,
when the opportunity arose to try out again, I decided to give
it one last shot. When I actually made the team it was a relief
for me. Finally making the team was an accomplishment for me
and I wanted to make sure I made the most out of it.
was the biggest challenge for you last year and how has your
game improved with the intensity of Division I workouts, practices,
coaching and game experience?
The biggest challenge for me last year as for as competing was
that I lacked a lot of confidence in the things I was most comfortable
doing. Actually finding a niche for me on the team was something
that I struggled with. However, as the season progressed and
I got a feel for the system, I learned what my role was on the
team. I learned that every day I walked into the gym, my purpose
was to make those around me better by working hard. Throughout
the plethora of workouts, practices and coaching I have been
able to improve my knowledge of the game of basketball.
are respected for putting in endless hours of work without the
benefit of much playing time. How do you keep motivated and what
have you enjoyed the most from your experience these last two
I have to admit that at first, the fact that I was not getting
much play time, did affect me a bit because I would always have
people ask me "what is the point of being on the team if
you aren't going to play?" However, I never paid mind to
what others would tell me because basketball is something that
I enjoy doing. What I've enjoyed the most about the last two
seasons is the camaraderie we have with each other. This camaraderie
has made playing together that much easier because we know what
we are all capable of doing and we all know what our role on
the team is.
dedication to the team and work ethic
what have you learned
about yourself with this Division I experience?
I have learned a lot since joining the basketball program. One
of the things I quickly learned, was that I was that I was going
to have to cut down on hanging out with my friends as free time
became very valuable. I call the library my second home - that's
how often I go there after practice. More importantly playing
Division I basketball has been one of the most humbling experiences
I have ever had. It has kept me level-headed with school and
it has made me appreciate my family a lot considering I only
get to see them a few times out of the year.
are some things that people might not know about being a Division
Some things people don't know about being a Division I athlete
is that it offers exposure to places you have never been before.
For example, last year we got a chance to go to California, a
place I have always wanted to visit. That visit made me realize
I wouldn't want to live there because of the time difference
but it was nonetheless an enjoyable experience. Another thing
that people don't know is that not everyone who plays Division
I basketball has aspirations or thinks that they will be playing
basketball after college. Some people actually want to become
doctors or teachers upon completing their tenure.
have you had to sacrifice to go from being a regular student
for two years to now being a student-athlete your final two years?
The one thing I had to sacrifice from being a regular student
for two years to now being a student-athlete for my final two
years, is some of my friendships. The transition from being a
regular student to being a student athlete took a toll on my
free time and I was not been able to communicate with my friends
back home as often as I wanted to. I barely have time to unwind
myself. From the moment I step out of class, I go to practice,
then go to fraternity meetings, and then study.
did you start playing as a kid and who was your role model?
I didn't start playing basketball until I reached the 9th grade
and I never had a desire to play before then. My brother was
the one who always told me "let's go shoot" or "let's
workout" and he would always put me in situations where
I was the youngest player competing against grown men. He made
me want to work harder through workouts and the experiences he
shared with me about the time he used to play basketball. Given
our similar experiences and seeing how successful he became made
me want to emulate him.
you decide to attend Binghamton University and what have you
gained from your college experience?
Academics was one of
the main reasons I wanted to attend Binghamton University. Another
reason why I decided to come here was because my sister is an
alumnus. As a kid I would always remember visiting her. I liked
the fact that Binghamton was far away from home but not too far,
so I could go home with some regularity. I definitely feel as
though I've maximized my experience at Binghamton. Aside from
my involvement with the basketball team, I am also part of a
fraternity, Lambda Upsilon Lambda, and a national honors society
in Chi Alpha Epsilon. What I've enjoy most about college thus
far are the relationships I've developed. I will carry these
experiences with me forever and will never forget.
are an accounting major
what are your career aspirations?
My career aspiration is to obtain certification and become a
Certified Public Accountant. I would enjoy the opportunity to
work for an accounting firm and eventually become a partner.
Finally, if I have enough funds and the proper resources, I want
to open up a basketball camp so that kids whose parents can't
normally afford camp, can get the opportunity to go to basketball
camp. Through playing sports, I feel kids can learn a lot of
life lessons such as time management, commitment, and discipline.