Hope College Student-Athlete Spotlight: Jess Estabrook, Christian Dunaitis

Jess Estabrook and Christian Dunaitis poses for portraits.

Junior Jess Estabrook and sophomore Christian Dunaitis make the most of their time in the classroom and in the pool swimming competitively for Hope College.

Estabrook, a neuroscience major from Carmel, Indiana, and Dunaitis, a business major from Commerce Township, Michigan, near Detroit, both are competing at the MIAA Championships this week at Calvin University.

Dunaitis is a returning MIAA champion in the 100-yard breaststroke and a member of the 2021-22 MIAA Academic Honor Roll. Estabrook is a two-MIAA Academic Honor Roll recipient.

Both student-athletes are looking to help their nationally-ranked teams repeat as MIAA team champions. The four-day event begins on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 6:30 p.m. 

Estabrook and Dunaitis chatted about their experiences as student-athletes and how Hope College is transforming their lives.

What do you enjoy most about swimming competitively?  

Estabrook: What I love most about swimming competitively is the team aspect and the people that the sport has connected me with. There is no bond like the bond of team members who are committed to being the best they can be for one another. It really brings us all close to being able to lift one another up while we compete in the sport, and this bond carries outside of swimming as well. I’m so grateful to have a great community of friends and teammates.

Dunaitis: I love the chance to compete in big meets. I swim for the opportunity to compete for a conference title with an amazing group of guys. Meets like the MIAA conference championship are the most energetic and exciting meets a swimmer can participate in.  No matter the outcome this team makes swimming special. 

How has being a college athlete helped you in the classroom?

Dunaitis: Swimming has definitely forced me to be organized and dedicated to my work within the classroom. You must be as efficient with your time as possible since practices can take up so much of your day. 

Estabrook: Being a college athlete, I have developed discipline, time management skills, and receptiveness to feedback, which have helped me in the classroom as well as in the pool. Participating in a sport comes with a huge time commitment, and as a pre-med student, my classes require a lot of effort and quality study time as well, so I need to be disciplined in order to make it all work. The business forces me to stick to a schedule and to be productive. As an athlete, it is important to be coachable so that I can always be improving, and this has served me well in the classroom to be ready to ask professors for help in areas of weakness.

How is your time at Hope College transforming you as a person?

Estabrook: Through my time at Hope, I am finding out how to be the person that I have always wanted to be. I’ve met the most amazing people who support me and lift me up. I’m learning leadership skills and how to work cohesively with a team. I’m receiving a quality education which will serve me well in my future career. I’m being equipped as a disciple of Christ by everyone who has poured into me spiritually. I feel as though my time at Hope has grown my confidence and equipped me to achieve things that I never thought possible.

Dunaitis: Since coming to Hope, I have learned a lot from the people around me. The kindness on campus is contagious. Everyone is so uplifting which creates a uniquely positive environment on campus. Hope has transformed me into an optimistic and encouraging person. 

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