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Discipline and Demand: Student-Athlete Peyton Goldthwaite (McIntire ’24) Prepares for Greatness

Before she leaves Grounds, we aimed to find out more about the influences and experiences that have shaped Goldthwaite and to learn what she is looking forward to achieving as she completes her time as a McIntire student-athlete.

Peyton Goldthwaite

Durham, NC, native Peyton Goldthwaite is in the final days of her UVA Women’s Soccer career. It marks the end of what has essentially been a life spent dedicated to the sport.

The midfielder began playing at age four, and in addition to getting ready for her graduation, she’s gearing up for a move to Richmond, where she’ll be working as an Investment Banking Analyst for Harris Williams.

“I’m a little bit nervous because when something takes up 30 hours of your week for 10 or more years, it’s definitely a huge transition. But I obviously knew that soccer would end for me eventually,” she says, noting that she never aspired to play professionally after college.

On the flip side, she credits McIntire with getting her excited for starting her career. “The Comm School motivated me. It was comforting because I knew that I was going to have more opportunities after college, and I didn’t need to just rely on soccer,” she says. “I am ready to move into a new chapter in my life and figure out other passions that I’ve had or that I can discover. That was one of the challenges I’ve had with athletics. I didn’t have the time to really discover a lot of those interests outside of the classroom because so much of my time was taken up with sports. Something I am really looking forward to is being able to figure out more about who I am and some other interests that I could uncover.”

Before she leaves Grounds, we aimed to find out more about the influences and experiences that have shaped Goldthwaite and to learn what she is looking forward to achieving as she completes her time as a McIntire student-athlete.

Early Struggles, Early Success

The eldest of three sisters—all college soccer players, and all midfielders—Goldthwaite says that between her schedule and the activity of her younger siblings at Duke and Wake Forest, her mother has been maintaining a spreadsheet to keep track of her three student-athletes, each a year and a half apart in age.

“We never actually played high school soccer. We were never all on the same team, which definitely would have been fun, but I think maybe saved us a little bit of conflict along the way,” she says. “But it was helpful for all of our games to be able to have two other people besides yourself all playing at the highest level. And we were all striving for the same goals, so I think that helped us all improve. Now it’s really fun to be able to support each other in the next journey of college soccer, which they’re just starting and I’m finishing up.”

In a way, Goldthwaite started her college career early, having committed to come to UVA at the beginning of her sophomore year of high school. She feels fortunate that the choice she made at 15 managed to work out so well for her.

So well, in fact, that despite the uncertainty and difficulties of the pandemic during her first year, UVA played their way to the NCAA Final Four in women’s soccer.

“Our season is normally in the fall. So we go pretty much August through the end of November, but that year was different: Half of it was in the fall, and half of it in the spring. That was definitely a huge difference coming into college my first year,” she says. “So many things were already new and challenging—and then to have a college soccer season last an entire year, especially through COVID too, with all the restrictions, was definitely a lot.”

During that first year at the University, all of Goldthwaite’s classes were strictly online, while all of the athletes were living together in one dorm. “I didn’t meet anyone who was outside of athletics,” she says, taking the opportunity to join a sorority and grow her network during her second year. “I wanted to branch out and meet other students at the University. That was definitely a valuable experience for me.”

Yet the camaraderie and close quarters in her first year would serve as motivation, leading to a semifinal finish in the 2020 NCAA Division I women’s soccer tournament, held in spring of 2021, as a welcome close to a tough season. “We were all pretty surprised to make it that far,” she admits about the accomplishment. “It was a really great feeling to be able to come away with something in what had been a really difficult year for everyone.”

Athletics to Academics to Analytics

A fierce competitor, Goldthwaite was driven to reach her next goal and to confront the newest possibility arriving on the horizon.

“With athletics, I’ve always really wanted to challenge myself, and I’ve always been striving for the next goal to achieve. Once I got into UVA and achieved that goal, I was looking for the next one,” says the Finance concentrator, who is also completing the Real Estate Track. “I knew that I wanted to study business, and I knew the Comm School had such a great reputation. The Comm School seemed to be that best fit. Luckily, I got in, and I’ve loved every aspect of it. I could not imagine being anywhere else.”

She insists that McIntire has had a large hand in her personal development as well. “What I love most about the Comm School is that it has allowed me to grow so much as a student and as a person: being in those collaborative environments and being able to work with teams. I have gotten a lot of value out of my time here,” she says.

Considering herself a “numbers person,” she was drawn to study finance. Having enjoyed her classes in the subject during her third-year Integrated Core coursework, she decided to pursue a career in the field, pairing it with the Real Estate courses.

Additionally, her skill set has expanded, especially in the so-called soft skills at which she excels, particularly teamwork.

“The most transferable skill from soccer is working towards a common goal. It really doesn’t matter whatever team you’re on. That helped to connect my [Integrated Core] groups in both semesters of my third year, and we were able to really come together because we all had the same interests in mind,” she says, pointing out that having shared aims eliminated unnecessary competition and helped foster communication skills. “Being able to problem solve and communicate effectively among team members [allowed us to work out] any disagreements and share different perspectives. It’s something that’s been an inherent skill that I’ve had through soccer through getting feedback from both my coaches and my teammates for so many years. Being able to take that and turn it into a response translated really well to Comm School.”

Noting the dedication of all of her professors, she says she’s seen faculty help students learn, adapting to meet students where they are and having an openness and willingness to meet with them one-on-one. “Professor [Adelaide Wilcox] King especially was really helpful for me coming into the Comm School,” Goldthwaite says. “My confidence wasn’t very high being an athlete, so she helped me realize my own strengths and what I was able to contribute to the classroom that was different than some of my peers,” she recalls, noting that King helped her to embrace her strengths as an athlete, be proud of those accomplishments, and use those experiences to add value. “I was really grateful to have her as a mentor along the way.”

Her own commitment and work ethic have supported and defined her academic success. While she says that her high level of intention is often assumed from student-athletes on and off the field, it’s not always a given in the classroom and perhaps overlooked as a benefit of all those drills, practices, and matches. “Not everyone has it, or it comes a little bit harder to some people, so having that discipline helped me in the classroom, managing all of the tasks we had with the Integrated Core last year,” she says.

Despite her athletic and academic successes, securing a job offer represents a true high point for Goldthwaite and true showing of her self-confidence in her abilities. “Going to job interviews, I had a similar feeling that I had going into the Comm School,” she confesses. “I know that being an athlete has a ton of advantages, but I was also a little bit nervous that it was going to hold me back because I didn’t have as much time to have other experiences and I didn’t know how I would stack up against these people who are applying from all these great schools as well.”

But it all worked out with Harris Williams. “Getting that return offer was just a huge weight off my shoulders. That was just a really big confidence boost for me, knowing that I have the ability to do great things on my own outside of athletics,” she says.

As she prepares to turn the page and begin the next chapter of her life, she remains enamored with the University she has called home for the last few years.

“Even though it is such a big school, I feel like it isn’t. I’ll walk on the Corner, and I’ll know someone or pass someone who’s in my classes—I’ve loved the community aspect of it,” Goldthwaite says. “UVA is just my favorite place on Earth.”

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