Loughlin went from a lacrosse player with a passion for intramural basketball to a walk-on on CU Boulder's Division I basketball team — ultimately earning a scholarship in his senior year, the first time this has happened in at least 12 years. Even with his success on the court, Loughlin said he never lost focus on his academic work as a computer science major, learning to balance time management, teamwork, leadership and resilience with support from CU Boulder and his team.
What did it feel like to be awarded the scholarship?
The moment I was given the scholarship was one of the happiest moments of my life. I’ve worked very hard to get to where I’m at now and to be able to celebrate with my teammates was a feeling of pride and joy that I don’t really know how to put into words.
My basketball journey has been a little different than most. I started playing my senior year of high school, and if you had told me four years ago that I would earn a scholarship to play Division I basketball, I would have called you delusional. I couldn’t ask for better teammates or coaches and they made it possible for me to be successful here at CU.
As a computer science senior and a D1 athlete, how do you balance the demands on your time?
Balancing basketball and computer science has taught me a lot about time management and how to plan ahead to get things done efficiently and on schedule. I’ve found that I work well with a defined schedule and basketball has given me structure that helps me to stay on task and keep from procrastinating. I don’t have much free time, so procrastination isn’t really an issue when I know I don’t have the option to start projects late.
It has also been helpful to have a significant amount of required study hall time through the basketball program, and we have a great academic coordinator at the Herbst Academic Center, Mindy Sclaro, who makes sure we stay on task and that we aren’t falling behind in anything. The athletic department takes academics very seriously and it has been easier than I expected to balance basketball and computer science because I have a lot of support.
What is your CS capstone about?
I am in the Software Engineering Project capstone class and I am working with a team of CS students for a company called Saga Education to build a video conferencing solution similar to Zoom that will be used to deliver affordable math tutoring in historically marginalized communities across the country. We are working with their VP of engineering and it has been really interesting to learn about how projects like this are done in industry.
I am working with a great team of students and it’s a really cool opportunity to work with a real company on something that can have a positive impact on the world.
What’s one thing you enjoy about computer science?
I really enjoy the creative problem solving aspect of computer science. There are always unexpected problems that come up in the process of designing and building projects, and I have always enjoyed finding creative solutions to these issues.
I have been able to work on some great projects while I’ve been at CU Boulder. My favorite was a project for my software development class last year where I spent the semester building an online multiplayer video game. It’s pretty simple, but it was a ton of fun to make. You can play the game online if you want.
What’s one thing you enjoy about basketball?
I’m a very competitive person and I really enjoy that basketball is constant competition. It was especially nice to have a reason to get out of the house every day during COVID and compete with my buddies. Our coaching staff is really good about letting us compete in everything we do, and we keep some kind of score with a winner and loser in almost all our drills.
Any hopes for after graduation?
After I graduate I’m hoping to work as a software developer in Denver or Seattle. Software development is a really big field and I’m not entirely sure what kind of development I want to do, but I’m a quick learner and pretty easy going so I’ll be alright no matter where I end up. I’ve learned a lot about teamwork and leadership from my athletic career and I’m hoping I can put that to use in my career after I graduate.
What would you say to other student-athletes?
I would tell other student-athletes to not be afraid to try different subjects in school like computer science. I was very lucky to find computer science through AP Computer Science in high school, but if I hadn’t taken that class I doubt I would ever have majored in computer science or even known much about it. A computer science minor can be very useful even with a different major and will only become more prevalent as technology improves in the business world.