United As Seawolves: Tatum Kauka and Chelsie DePonte
United As Seawolves is a season-long project that, each week, will feature two members of the Stony Brook women's soccer team. The series will take a deeper look into the unique coming together of 26 student-athletes from all over the country and the world, looking into how their journey to and through Stony Brook has impacted their lives. The Hawaiian culture has been a very popular topic for this series through the season and has had a very positive impact on this team over the last year and change. Sophomore Chelsie DePonte and freshman Tatum Kauka are both from The Big Island and bring a considerate, appreciative and relaxed way of life to the fast-paced, to-the-point ways of New York. It is another welcomed influence on an endlessly diverse roster, and a daily reminder to take care of everything and everyone surrounding them. Tatum and Chelsie first met about five years ago when Chelsie joined Tatum's club team, which was known for showcasing the island's top talent and providing opportunities to be seen by college coaches. They traveled to the Mainland to play in a number of tournaments and specifically recall meeting head coach Brendan Faherty and assistant coach Sarah Martinez at a tournament in Las Vegas. A year older, Chelsie was the first to commit to the Seawolves. In search of a new adventure and new experiences, she was impressed by the people, play and academics Stony Brook had to offer. She took the leap of faith and decided to make Long Island her home away from home. While Chelsie admits to being a little intimidated by the move across the country, she was immediately comforted by all of her teammates, including a number of others that were also dealing with distance and time differences. Encouraged by Chelsie's positive experiences and her own familiarity with the New York City area, Tatum decided to reunite with her former teammate. The East Coast appealed to her and Stony Brook was the perfect fit. Both of her parents are flight attendants, so while she's still a ways from home, her family is always nearby. One of the mantras of the women's soccer program is "sweeping the shed". It relates greatly to the Hawaiian culture and as Tatum describes, it's a reminder to clean up after yourself and take care of everyone around you. It's a brick in the foundation of this growing program and an idea that the entire team is behind. The pair is often brought up in relation to the saying, mentioning the impact of selflessness and gratitude from the Hawaiian lifestyle on the day-to-day actions of the team. Being grateful is another strong message in Hawaiian culture and the pair exudes that not only for each other, but for their experiences as well. They are very grateful to have a piece of home here with them in New York that they can lean on every day, and they are also thankful for all of their teammates. As is true throughout the team, they are embraced for the differences they bring to the group and equally love discovering similarities. This is a team that is consistently growing and learning, and it is a young program that is building tradition for the future. They are grateful to be a part of the history-making process that has already been able to display its successes. As is deeply rooted in the culture of the islands, they are committed to and work for each other every day, continuing to be thankful for what they have and ever-evolving as people.