From Geospatial Science Aficionado Alina Lance Follows 2013 AE Champ Olivia Mintun’s Path by Adam Rubin on Stony Brook Athletics
STONY BROOK, N.Y. — Olivia Mintun led the Stony Brook softball team in batting average during the 2013 America East Tournament as the Seawolves twice defeated top-seeded UAlbany to earn the league’s postseason title and an NCAA Tournament berth.
Mintun’s pride in her alma mater has continued to aid Stony Brook even after her graduation.
Mintun works as an admissions representative at Lake Land College, where she also had been an NJCAA and NFCA Academic All-American before enrolling at Stony Brook as a junior. And Mintun frequently works out wearing Stony Brook softball apparel while in the training facility primarily utilized by the Mattoon, Ill., junior college’s student-athletes.
The Seawolves gear inevitably would generate curiosity among the student-athletes at the Midwest school.
“We were all like, ‘Stony Brook? Olivia, where is Stony Brook?'” Alina Lance recalled. “And she would tell us about it.”
Coincidentally, during Lance’s sophomore year at Lake Land, Stony Brook’s softball staff reached out to recruit her to come to Long Island.
Lance immediately recalled that Mintun frequently would wear the university’s gear and was an alum. So Lance sought out Mintun.
“She told me all about it and was super-excited,” Lance recalled. “When I signed, she sent me a long text message of all the stuff I should know and what I should do when I get out here. She was a huge help and a big part of me going to Stony Brook, because she told me so much about the school.”
Said Mintun: “When Alina approached me I was ecstatic about the possibility of the Lake Land-Stony Brook legacy continuing. Central Illinois is extremely different from Long Island as well as being one heck of a drive. When Alina decided to commit to the Seawolves, it was exciting to see what another Lake Land College student-athlete could accomplish.”
Fast forward and Lance herself has graduated from Stony Brook, having earned a technological systems management degree from the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences with a geospatial science minor from the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences in May.
Lance, a righty-hitting outfielder, is back for the 2021 season as a graduate student after being deprived of the bulk of her senior season due to coronavirus.
Her time at Lakeland was instrumental academically as well as with softball.
There, she was exposed to a geospatial science class and was hooked by the subject.
“You pull data from satellites and you basically analyze it through maps,” Lance said. “So with COVID, for example, you can pinpoint where the hotspots are and relay the data in a better manner to other people.”
Her junior-college geospatial science professor was passionate about Ohio Valley Conference basketball, especially with league member Eastern Illinois University right down the road from their school.
Lance, who grew up 2½ hours south in New Athens, Ill., worked on a project that plotted the recruiting of OVC men’s basketball coaches — using five years of data.
“You could actually see where each of the coaches liked to recruit from,” Lance said. “It was interesting to look at. It made me realize that you could use geospatial for more than just healthcare or national defense. You can use it for just about anything.”
Of course, geospatial science has more consequential applications than mapping basketball recruiting regions. And Lance has her eyes set on working for the U.S. government in national security, ideally at a $1.7 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency campus currently in development in St. Louis. The NGA is part of the Department of Defense.
Otherwise, Lance will aim for a private-sector position in data analysis.
Her hometown is less than an hour from St. Louis.
As evidenced by her excitement to come to Long Island to complete college, though, she is open to working anywhere in the country.
“I’m not a homebody type of person,” Lance said.