Former Dartmouth athletes playing as graduate transfers across the NCAA
Before the Ivy League decided to allow graduate students to compete, many athletes in the Class of 2020 transferred from Dartmouth to schools around the country.
Micah Schroder ’20, the 2019 Ivy League softball Player of the Year, transferred to Indiana University last June as a graduate transfer student.
Some of Dartmouth’s most accomplished athletes decided to transfer in the past year due to canceled seasons and the Ivy League’s policy against graduate athletic participation. Although the Ivy League Council of Presidents voted in February to allow current seniors admitted into graduate programs at their schools to compete as fifth-year players, it was too late for a number of Big Green athletes. Men’s basketball player Chris Knight ’21, who will play at Loyola University Chicago next year, criticized the timing of the Ivy League’s decision, noting that he and his teammates did not believe they had enough time to apply to Dartmouth graduate programs.
Two Ivy League Players of the Year and a number of team most valuable players and record holders are among the athletes who have left Dartmouth and are now competing for Division I schools across the country. Brendan Barry ’20 played for Temple University during this past men’s basketball season, Katie Bourque ’20 is currently recovering from a torn ACL in time to compete for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the NCAA women’s lacrosse tournament, Drew Estrada ’20 is preparing to play for Baylor University’s football team next fall and Micah Schroder ’20 is in the middle of softball season at Indiana University.
Brendan Barry ’20, Men’s Basketball at Temple University
Brendan Barry ’20 had a decorated career at Dartmouth, playing three full seasons and winning the A.D. “Dolly” Stark Award for the team’s most valuable player during the 2018-19 season. After surgery on both hips effectively ended his senior season at Dartmouth, Barry transferred to Temple University to play a fifth season as a graduate transfer student.
Barry’s decision to transfer was very sudden. After being awarded a fifth year at Dartmouth due to his medical hardship, the Ivy League canceled the 2020-21 season due to the pandemic. With that news, Barry shifted his attention towards finding a new school to play his final season with.
“Our first game was December 19,” Barry said. “And I graduated from Dartmouth in the first week of December, so I got there for practice for two days and then was thrown into the fire when I played in that first game. It was really interesting. I'm just thankful that I had that opportunity to put it all together.”
This past season, Barry averaged 6.9 points per game while shooting 43.6% from the field and 45.3% from three-point range for Temple. The Owls finished 5-11 on the season and lost in the first round of the American Athletic Conference tournament.
Barry said that the playing style and level of competition at Temple were notably different from his experience at Dartmouth, calling the Ivy League and AAC “polar opposites in terms of style of play.”
“It's just a lot more up-tempo in the [AAC] and not as much based on half-court sets,” Barry said. “Also, there’s more one-on-one play with less ball movement. It definitely was an adjustment to switch to that type of style of play.”
Despite the adjustments, Barry was pleased with his decision to transfer. Being able to play his final season was an experience that he enjoyed even with all of the challenges along the way.
“Obviously, it was just a weird situation for everyone involved,” Barry said. “At the end of the day, I knew I had to transfer and I was just thankful that I got to play this year.”
Katie Bourque ’20, Women’s Lacrosse at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
After captaining Dartmouth’s women’s lacrosse in 2020, a season which was ultimately cut short due to the pandemic, Bourque enrolled as a fifth-year graduate student at UNC. In her final season at Dartmouth Bourque earned two Ivy League Player of the Week awards and a U.S. lacrosse Player of the Week award while also leading the Big Green with 21 goals. After the cancellation of her season, Bourque was forced to find a new school to play for.
“When our season got canceled, I was super upset as we were doing really well,” Bourque said. “I love Dartmouth and my dad played lacrosse at Dartmouth, so I always wanted to play here… knowing that I couldn’t go back to Dartmouth made me sad, as I would have loved to play again.”
At UNC, Bourque enrolled in the masters in educational innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship program. She now plays midfield for the Tar Heels, the 2013 and 2016 NCAA Division I champions. Despite stepping onto the UNC campus for the first time this past fall, Bourque was able to make her transition relatively smoothly — but still misses Dartmouth.
“The biggest thing I miss is my teammates and coaches because the people are really what makes the place special,” Bourque said. “So much that goes into lacrosse is the chemistry on the field that also has to be formed off the field, so the biggest transition was just meeting so many new people and adjusting to being in a new place. I miss the woods, but it’s definitely nice to be warm holding my stick in April, since it gets to be 75 [degrees] and sunny most days.”
Shortly after arriving at UNC, Bourque suffered a torn ACL and has been unable to compete as she goes through rehab. Bourque plans to be back on the field just in time for the NCAA tournament next month.
Drew Estrada ’20, Football at Baylor University
During his time at Dartmouth, Drew Estrada was a force in the Ivy League. He scored eight receiving touchdowns during his senior year — second-most on the team — while also working his way into the Dartmouth record books, recording 2,392 all-purpose yards in his career to rank 14th all-time in Dartmouth history. With an extra year of eligibility after red-shirting during his freshman year due to an injury, Estrada looked to continue his football career closer to his hometown of Argyle, Texas.
Estrada made the move to Baylor, an hour and a half from Argyle, in January after graduating from Dartmouth in December. At Baylor, he is working toward his Master of Business Administration. After the Ivy League canceled the 2020 football season and it seemed as though senior athletes would not be able to return for a fifth year, Estrada entered the transfer portal seeking a football program similar to Dartmouth.
“Playing in the Big 12 on a bigger stage was always something that I wanted to do out of high school… that was a dream of mine,” Estrada said. “The coaches and the program itself reminded me a lot of Dartmouth because it is a very family-type atmosphere and they put a high importance on character and personal development over the player.”
As Estrada gears up for the 2021 season, he hopes to make an impact on a bigger stage. Moving out of the Ivy League and into the Big 12, he noted that although there are more resources to support athletes, there are also a lot more athletes competing for starting roles and more big-name recruits.
“At the end of the day, it’s x’s and o’s,” Estrada said. “You focus on the fundamentals and don’t let things get too big for yourself.”
Micah Schroder ’20, Softball at Indiana University
Following a junior season that ranked among the all-time greatest individual year in Big Green softball history, Micah Schroder’s senior season was cut short after just 10 games. A few months later, she committed to Indiana as a graduate transfer student.
In Schroder’s final full season playing for Dartmouth, she recorded a .473 batting average and 40 RBIs, both single-season school records. In Ivy League conference play, Schroder batted .586 with a 1.041 slugging percentage and .638 on-base percentage, amassing 41 hits and 33 RBIs. Each of those five numbers led the conference.
She took home a number of awards during the 2019 season, earning a selection to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I All-Region First Team, a unanimous First-Team All-Ivy selection and Ivy League Player of the Year honors.
Schroder graduated from Dartmouth before heading to Indiana, where she said she had always intended to go to earn her MBA after graduation. She said that the competition is stiffer in the Big Ten than in the Ivy League. Indiana faces some of the most high-powered squads regularly in conference competition, whereas the Big Green would only play those teams in its preseason schedule.
Schroder has seen limited playing time for the Hoosiers this season, in part due to an ankle injury, appearing in just three games. The team is 14-14 with less than a month remaining in the regular season.
Schroder did say that she wished that Dartmouth and the Ivy League had offered the opportunity to play to graduate students before she had made her decision to transfer. She added, however, that she does not regret her move to Indiana.
“Transferring in general, and then specifically to Indiana, has just been a huge highlight in my life and one of the bright things to come out of the pandemic for me,” Schroder said. “So I do not regret it at all. I would do it a thousand times over.”