by Alison Standish, STAFF WRITER
4 May 2018
The graduating class of 2018 athletes attended an informal NCAA signing ceremony on Wednesday, April 18th. “This is why we as coaches do what we do, to give kids this opportunity so it’s awesome to see, over the course of the time that I’ve been here, to see the number of kids that are going to college continue to increase,” football coach Tyson LeBlanc (NOT PICTURED) said. “It’s a good feeling.” Photo courtesy of Colleen Olson.
In just a few short weeks, the graduating class of 2018 will walk out of the doors of Oswego East and into a new life. For some students, this means following up on the commitment to pursue athletics at a collegiate level. On Wednesday, April 18th, 28 seniors were recognized for signing off to college with the intent of extending their athletic excellence into a new realm beginning this fall.
Cross country and track runner Isabella Gyori, who signed to Auburn University at Montgomery, said that her experience with athletics in high school has taught her many crucial life skills such as diligence and time management.
“Running-wise, I’ve learned a lot about discipline and being focused. Through academics it taught me how to balance my athletics with my academics really well. It taught me a lot about how to have good time management skills and pushing myself to run,” Gyori said.
Gyori plans extend beyond her athletics, as she looks to hopefully enter the health field post college.
“I’m planning on majoring in exercise science and hopefully going into nutrition and eventually [helping] out others better their lifestyles. I’m not sure about the career specifically yet, but something like that,” Gyori said.
Senior softball player Juvia Davis, who signed for Indiana University, said that while pursuing athletics in high school can come with difficulties, it’s easy to overcome them by pursuing a balanced schedule.
“I give myself little rewards here and there and I do try to take the weekends off to give myself a break. And then I really hit it hard during the week. I think it’s just about finding a balance between athletics and academics, just to make sure that you don’t get burnt out,” Davis said.
Davis has been committed to Indiana University for three years, and said that her commitment has been a driving force for her ever since sophomore year. She plans on majoring in pre-med, a passion which she said is fueled by her desire to help others.
“The biggest thing [about pre-med] is just helping people. I’ve always been super into that and I feel like being in medicine especially, everything’s always changing and there’s a lot of innovation,” Davis said. “Someone’s always going to need a doctor. It’s a really good field to go into.”
Swim coach Deryl Luebner said that overcoming the challenges and struggles that come with high school athletics is an important factor in a successful life.
“There’s a lot of adversity that you have to go through in life and in sports. It’s a lot about dealing with adversity and rising up and overcoming it and that’s what makes you successful in life, facing those challenges,” Leubner said.
Pushing through those challenges obviously involves a lot of hard work, as well as a strong sense of determination and work ethic, according to senior swimmer Kevin Orlik, who signed to Notre Dame.
“To achieve success I think you definitely have to work hard, you can’t give up on your dreams, and as long as you keep working at it you’ll probably get there eventually,” Orlik said.
Orlik plans to major in marketing at Notre Dame. He attributes his interest in this particular field to his father’s influence.
“I signed for Notre Dame college in Cleveland, Ohio, and I signed there because it was kind of just the best fit for me. I visited a couple times and I really liked it so I talked to the coaches and that’s just where I decided to go,” Orlik said. “I want to major in marketing and that might change but that’s what I want to major in right now. My dad is a businessman [and he] got me interested in that.”
Leubner said that pursuing athletics in high school can come with many benefits, including the presence of certain life skills that athletes tend to acquire very early on in life.
“I think there’s a huge correlation with that balance and learning those life lessons and organization and being a leader and all those skills that you’re going to need later in life that [high school athletes] learn very early,” Leubner added.
Being a successful athlete requires constant effort, something that softball player Riley Kelsch has always tried to emulate.
“Both [with academics] and with softball, I had to work extremely hard. With softball I’m always practicing and making sure I’m putting myself out there to get attention from coaches. In the classroom [I’m] making sure I’m studying and getting my homework done because obviously academics [and] my grades are important to me. I think that’s the only way that I’m going to be able to be successful, is to learn how to balance softball and school at the same time,” Kelsch said.
Kelsch is signed to Wisconsin Platteville University, where she plans on majoring in forensic investigation in addition to her commitment to the softball team.
“I’ve always just loved the crime aspects of always watching crime shows, and I’m interested in police work. I really wanted to be able to go to crime scenes to see everything that’s happening, but also [to] figure out the meaning behind everything and solve crimes from there,” Kelsch said.
Athletic director Robert Kaminski said that he is proud of the East student athletes, adding that the life of a student athlete, while rewarding, isn’t always easy, and that the success of these particular students is a tribute to their character traits as well as their hard work.
“I want to wish [the students] luck and remind them that all of the things that they’ve done to put themselves in the position to be able to compete in college. Those same character traits and those same skills are going to help them be successful at the next level,” Kaminski said. “I know that each and every one of them has a very bright future and whether they compete in college athletics for one year, four years, go beyond that what they learned through youth high school and college athletics is going to be an asset for them in their lives outside of sports.”
Alison Standish is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the HOWL