What It’s Like to Be a Rollins Student-Athlete

April 03, 2024

By Jessica Firpi ’11

Lacrosse player and business management major Ben Kopen ’24
Photo by Scott Cook.

Rollins’ winning combination of academic and athletic excellence empowers student-athletes like Ben Kopen ’24 to thrive both on and off the field.

Rollins scores big when it comes to both athletics and academics, regularly ranking among the best Division II colleges nationwide. We’ve clinched the NCAA President’s Award for Academic Excellence for 12 consecutive years, boasting the highest academic success rate in the Sunshine State Conference and the seventh highest in the nation.

Our student-athletes are equipped to unleash their full potential whether it’s in class or on the field. Just ask business management major and lacrosse player Ben Kopen ’24. He has gained invaluable experience while forging lifelong connections and receiving an education that goes beyond textbooks and athletic competitions.

“Skills like leadership, teamwork, and adaptability are invaluable assets that will shape my journey long after graduation,” he says.

Tag along with Ben to get a behind-the-scenes look at how he’s leveraging Rollins’ competitive advantage on his pathway to purpose.

Kopen with Coach Gary DiClementi
Photo by Scott Cook.

Mentorship in Motion

“I’ve learned so much about coachability and adaptability, about working in teams and, now as a senior, leading teams. Our defensive coordinator Coach Gary DiClementi does a really good job of pushing me as hard as he can. In his office, he has a sign that says, ‘Call your mother.’ It’s one example of the reminders the coaches give us to be good people and always be thinking of more than just the next game.”

Kopen in the Campus Center Marketplace
Photo by Scott Cook.

Fueled by Flavor

“The buffet-style dining hall at the Campus Center has so many options. As athletes, we’re running around in 95-degree weather, so trying to get as many calories in as possible to replenish our bodies and make sure we’re building muscle is super important. Mobile-ordering at a few of the other campus dining spots is great too since often I don’t have time to sit down for a meal.”

Kopen with Professor Voicu
Photo by Scott Cook.

Professors Who Care

“Throughout my time at Rollins, my professors took note of the topics I gravitated toward in class, recommending internships and helping me look at courses that matched my interests. At a small school like Rollins, professors are really able to connect with their students because they get to know you as a person.”

Kopen at his OEC internship

Learning by Doing

“Rollins really emphasizes applied learning. I studied abroad in Rome for a semester, and I’ve done multiple internships. Recently, I worked as a corporate finance and strategy intern at the Orlando Utilities Commission, which helped me narrow down my job search to equity research positions within the financial sector.”

Kopen in the training room
Photo by Scott Cook.

Equipped for Success

“Even though Rollins is a DII school, it has state-of-the-art training and sports facilities. Each team is assigned to a specific trainer who oversees things like nutrition, workout regimens, and muscle recovery to make sure we’re in peak condition. While I put heating pads on my legs and use Normatec compressions, I also like to get some studying or homework done.”

Kopen with his mentee
Photo by Scott Cook.

Leading by Example

“Every first-year or transfer student on the lacrosse team is assigned to an older teammate to help them adjust to college. My peer mentor helped me a lot with time management because with academics, games, and practices, it gets hectic. It’s great to pay that forward now with my mentee. We get together pretty often and play pickleball or meet for coffee or I’ll help him proofread an essay.”

A student entrepreneur makes jewelry by hand

Essential Experience

From starting a business in college to running for political office, Rollins students learn how to apply their knowledge and skills in the real world.


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