By: Athletic Communications Assistant Erin Madden
BEREA, Ohio – Since 1987, professional athletes all across the United States have celebrated various championships by proclaiming, "I'm going to Disney World.
Win or lose in the 2018 Ohio Athletic Conference Women's Soccer tournament, Baldwin Wallace University junior goalkeeper Sophia Weidner will be able to say the exact same thing as she ventures off to Florida for a semester with the Disney College Program.
Trips down to Disney have been a regular occurrence for the Weidner family ever since she was a little girl. As her love for Disney grew, however, one week just never seemed to be long enough for the junior mathematics major.
"My family is lucky enough to be able to go down there almost every year, but it's short lived," Weidner said. "It's only a week and it never feels like enough time. Especially when you love somewhere so much, you want to stay there for as long as you can."
During the family trip when she was around 10 or 11 years old, Weidner's mother planted a seed in her head by saying, "It would be so cool if you worked here one day." And so the wheels started turning.
Weidner actually applied for the program last year, getting through all three steps of the application process before finding out on the last possible day that she didn't get accepted. When applications went live this year, she was initially hesitant to reapply.
"Last year, I decided to give it a shot and I ended up not getting it," Weidner recalled. "I thought, 'Okay, well I tried it once. I'm not going to try it again.'"
After talking through all the options with her parents, including the possibility of having to stay at BW for an extra semester if she were accepted, Weidner applied anyway. She moved through the process quickly – first the application, then the web-based interview and, after that, the phone interview – all within a few days of each other.
Three weeks to the day after submitting her application, Weidner got a text message after goalie practice that read, "Hey, you need to check your email. Something exciting is waiting for you." Her dream of spending more than one week at Disney came true as she was accepted for the Merchandise role with the Disney College Program.
Although many of the details are still up in the air, Weidner knows that she will be working 30-40 hours a week in either a Disney resort or one of the parks while also taking online classes through BW and Cuyahoga Community College.
"I think one thing that I struggle with now that Disney will definitely teach me is time management," Weidner explained. "You have to manage work, you have to manage classes and you have to have somewhat of a social life. You have to be able to go out and do things while you're down there or else you're really missing out on your opportunities."
One of the biggest opportunities that Weidner hopes to take advantage of while at Disney is the chance to network and create relationships. Her advisor even connected her with a BW alum that graduated with a math degree and is working down at Disney.
"There's definitely jobs in math for Disney," Weidner said. "Learning how to interact with my superiors and networking, that's something I picked up (at BW) and just being able to create relationships with people. I didn't know my entire soccer team before I came in here. I had to learn to play with them, learn how to communicate with them and learn how to communicate with them off the field too."
With regard to her teammates, however, Weidner will have to figure out how to keep up with her training as she will miss out on spring soccer in Berea as well as the team's upcoming spring break trip to Costa Rica.
"It's the memories I'm going to miss out on but I think Disney is a good reason to miss Costa Rica," Weidner reasoned. "It'll be hard missing soccer like that but I'll definitely try to make up for it."
In the place where dreams come true, Weidner will be living out a childhood dream as she will be able to call Disney home for a few months.
"Disney has been such an integral part of my life and something that brings me happiness and joy," Weidner remarked, "that I knew I wanted to go down and work there and hopefully create the same feelings for other people."