Students commit to college athletic programs

by Elizabeth Tzagournis, ’13

The shouts of students clad in the cardinal and white attire of Stanford University fill the stadium as the lacrosse game begins with the pivotal faceoff draw. This atmosphere is a dream that could turn reality for sophomore Molly Plasket. Plasket, as well as other students, has found a future in collegiate athletics and has made a verbal commitment to Stanford University as a lacrosse player for 2015.

Plasket is young be committed to a college by the late winter of her sophomore year, compared to the majority of senior students who have more recently committed to play sports at the university level. Senior Jack Mueller is one who has joined the ranks of college-bound athletes and signed on to play football at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY. Both students have had hopes of playing their respective sports in college since a very young age, according to Plasket and Mueller.

Though both are bound for future college sports careers, their choice of university is unique to each student’s hopes and goals. Plasket said she is excited for the strong academic experience Stanford offers.

“[Stanford] is academically outstanding,” she said. “Students are presented with incredible opportunities and connections that will most certainly help them receive a graduate degree and out in the workforce.”

Mueller also desires a competitive academic environment, but furthermore chose West Point in order to eventually serve in the army. His interest in West Point specifically began in middle school.

“I went to a football game with my granddad back in seventh grade and they played Akron [University] and after that I kind of got interested and stayed interested,” Mueller said. “I always wanted to be in the army so that’s why I chose [West Point].”

Sports scholarships provide students with an education and an opportunity to play their particular sport more often and at a more competitive level. According to Plasket, this commitment can prove demanding.

“You have to love the game you play. If you don’t love it, you will probably get burnt out pretty quickly,” Plasket said. “You also have to be fairly easy going because you will have to be really open to change—change in your position, change in how much you play, and playing on an entirely new team.”

Mueller agreed that dedication and hard work are necessary assets for aspiring college athletes.

“You have to have some talent but you also have to show lots of determination,” he said.

Playing sports in college may seem more common than the reality, where around two percent of high school athletes will end up playing for an NCAA school and nabbing a sports scholarship, according to 2011 article “The Odds of Playing College Sports” by CBS news. The journey from high school to college sports is not an easy one with Plasket having begun her contact with colleges, specifically OSU, during her freshman year.

“It started when Ohio State invited me out to a recruitment meeting and a basketball game,” she said. “[Then] the ball started rolling and I became in contact with an increasing amount of programs. My first official offer came from Ohio State in October 2012.”

Yet not all prospective college athletes get such an early start, as Mueller began his search during his junior year. Mueller received letters of recruitment but students could get phone calls from the sport department and later the prospects may visit the universities they are interested in and talk with the coaches and their recruiters.

“When I visited West Point in the summer the football coach came and talked to me and that’s when I got [interested],” Mueller said.

After receiving offers from different colleges and making their respective decisions both students have enjoyed recognition from UAHS students and faculty on their achievements.

“When I first committed, I didn’t tell anyone at the school,” Plasket said. “Now that people know, random students and teachers stop me in the halls and congratulate me. It is really special and I’m not sure it would happen anywhere besides UA.”

In addition to student and faculty support, Plasket and Mueller credit their families and coaches as being instrumental in the recruitment process.

“All of my coaches knew about the role sports can play in a student’s high school career and subsequent future,” Plasket said.

With Mueller’s final season of UA football complete, he said he looks forward to a football and military career at West Point. As a sophomore Plasket has two more full seasons of lacrosse with her current season still underway. She said she appreciates her lacrosse journey thus far and how it has helped shape her future.

“Lacrosse has done so much for me,” she said. “[It] has taught me so much—not only about being on a team, but just life… You learn about teammates. You learn about compassion. You learn about working hard.”