`East Coast Feel' Appeals To Penguins' Student-Athlete

Abbie Gould 22 ’has always imagined what it would like to attend college on the East Coast. Yet, she really wanted to study in California. Dominican University of California, it turned out, was just perfect.

“I like how Dominican has an East Coast Ivy League-like feel to it, but it’s not on the East Coast, so I’m not too far from home,” says Abbie, who started her third season as a Penguins soccer player this month. “Plus, I thought I was in a good area as I really wanted to go into sports public relations and marketing and there are a lot of professional sports teams in the Bay Area that would have opportunities for me if I wanted to go in that direction. So Dominican’s location is perfect, it’s good for academics and I get to play soccer on the side.”

Abbie was a junior at Granite Bay High School when she received a recruiting letter from Dominican’s women’s soccer coach Kelly Coffey. That’s when Abbie’s mother remarked that Abbie’s grandmother, Sarah Jane (Frontera) Hollister ’61, attended Dominican. Abbie immediately contacted her grandma, who evidently did the best job of recruiting her to become a Penguin. She started by giving Abbie a private tour of the San Rafael campus.

Today, Abbie is excelling at Dominican. She is a Communication and Media Studies major with minors in graphics design and Community Action and Social Change in the School of Liberal Arts and Education who plans to graduate early in May 2022. As a student-athlete at an NCAA Division II school she has successfully balanced academics and athletics around a structure that has worked both for in-person and remote learning. She has helped Dominican be the perennial winner of the Pacific West Conference Academic Achievement Award.
“D2 is perfect because I can still do a lot around the school and be involved in soccer,” Abbie says. “My focus right now is on education because that is what my life is going to be after soccer. Dominican offered a lot of opportunities for me.”

The opportunities started as a freshman when Abbie became involved with Service-Learning.

With the help of Julia van der Ryn, Executive Director, Center for Community Engagement, Abbie was recruited as a Education Dedicated to Justice & Equity (EDJE) Fellow out of an Effective Communications class through Marin County Library’s Reading Buddies program after a librarian in Marin City recommended her. The Reading Buddies program pairs Dominican students in-person and virtually with youth in Marin City, Novato, and Point Reyes Station to read together weekly in a program aimed at improving literacy and closing the education gap in marginalized schools and communities in Marin.

Abbie, whose mother and grandmother were teachers, says her role with Reading Buddies is the highlight of her Dominican experience so far.

“It was a family atmosphere when I got there and the kids are the sweetest children ever,” Abbie says. “You can see how excited they get having someone consistently there helping and caring about them and asking them about their day.”

Another highlight was receiving a Mother Mary Raymond scholarship from Dominican last year. Abbie, who was the editor-in-chief of her school newspaper in high school, wrote a touching thank you letter as a show of gratitude and suspects her grandmother’s legacy may have contributed to the decision toward the scholarship. 

“Her hard work also helped reward me and everything kind of passed on and I work hard here,” Abbie says. “It’s just a sweet little connection where I can say, `Thanks, Gram, for going here. I really appreciate it.’ ”

Of course, Dominican athletics were a little different for a female student when Abbie’s grandmother played basketball during Physical Education classes. It was an all-women’s college and basketball rules at the time for women’s basketball in the country in the 60s allowed for three females per team to play on one half of the court to be shooters or strictly offensive players while three of their teammates were positioned on the opposite half of the court to be defenders or strictly defensive players against the opposing team.

Abbie’s grandmother also was heavily involved in student government and extra-curricular activities on campus.

 “She’s still a very active social lady,” Abbie says. “She’s my role model.”


Abbie certainly trusted her grandmother when it came time to choose a college. Her success at Dominican includes scoring a game-winning goal earlier this year. The Penguins play their first home game of this season on September 16.

“I was nervous coming to a small school, but I’m very happy I decided to go here,” she says. “My brother went to a bigger university and he would talk about how there were 100 students in his lecture halls. And I’d say, `The most I’ve had at Dominican is 15.’ That’s really nice because I get to have those one-on-one conversations with my professors and make those relationships where they know everyone’s names. It’s just a much more hands-on experience, especially because they have you go to the Service-Learning and you really do learn by doing here. It’s a different type of learning style.”

All in all, Abbie’s experience as a student-athlete at Dominican has been rewarding and enriching.

“I didn’t really know what to expect coming in. I just had an open mind, I’ll take it on as I get there,” says Abbie, who now plans to pursue a master’s degree. “But it’s definitely exceeded my expectations. It’s been fun. Everyone’s been super nice, and accommodating and helpful. It’s very welcoming. It does feel like a home definitely being here.”

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