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Taking it to the Next Level: College Athletes


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Each year, a handful of dedicated students are chosen to pursue their sport on a more competitive level: college. Years of hard work, dedication, and discipline have propelled a few hardworking student-athletes to continue their sports careers in college.

Although many students play sports throughout their high school careers, most will not go on to play any sport past that. Almost no one gets the chance to play a sport in college. Not only is it a huge time commitment requiring tremendous dedication, an athlete must also be skilled in every aspect of the sport. Regardless, there are few students here at North that intend to play sports in their college careers.  

One of these senior athletes with big plans is Austyn Durham. Among her many sports, her favorite is softball. Austyn plays on several sports teams because “sports in general teach so many valuable lessons, from good sportsmanship to having grace under pressure. There is always something to be learned.” She prefers softball over all other sports because she “love[s] the fast-paced action which never seems to end.” Austyn currently plays catcher for the school team. She also plays on the Chiefs Fast-pitch Gold, an outside travel league. Although softball appears to come naturally to Austyn, a lot of hard work and dedication goes into her ability to stay on top of her game. For her travel team, she practices once a week and plays every weekend in competitive tournaments. Austyn also trains 2-3 hours on top of her softball schedule. These training sessions improve her endurance and strength. Austyn recently committed to Bryan College, where she will continue playing softball. She commented, “I couldn’t be happier to be playing the game I love at an even higher level for the next four years.” Austyn will also be studying health and exercise science at the college. She hopes to become a physical education teacher and one day become a coach herself.

Samantha Law is known at North for her record-breaking accomplishments in cross-country and track. Although she has plans to run competitively in college, she has not committed anywhere yet. Sam said, “Running is something that is part of [her] life.” She credits her coaches, teammates, and friends with pushing her to become the runner she is today. Becoming a competitive runner requires Sam to push herself out of her comfort zone everyday. Sometimes, Sam pushes herself too hard, and she ends up injured or hospitalized. She is now on the path to recovery, and is preparing herself both physically and mentally to go back into her hectic training schedule. Sam has high hopes for the state qualifiers and the rest of her season. The injuries led her to talk to her college coaches about adjusting her training plan so she can be flexible with her running. With a few schools in mind, Sam’s current plan is “to make nationals in the winter and spring, and to just overall become more fit in every way possible.” No matter which college Sam chooses, she is going to succeed  just like she has at North.

There was never a doubt for Daniela Vazquez that she would be swimming competitively in college. She has participated in this sport her whole life, and for the past four years, she has been a part of the team at North. Daniela credited “all of her success [to] her coaches and teammates. The family environment fostered everyone on the team to really push each other.” In addition to her school team, Daniela’s aunt, who qualified for the Olympic trials, is her biggest inspiration. Daniela’s aunt has taught her everything she knows; they have bonded over the common interest. Daniela’s aunt was diagnosed with cancer this past summer, but this did not stop Daniela’s passion for the sport. “I swim for my aunt,” she notes. “It allows myself to feel like she’s always by my side. Honestly, I cannot go through college without that feeling.” Although Daniela has not committed to a school yet,  wherever she goes she is sure to make strides both in the pool and in her college career.   

Another athlete that has plans to play a college sport is Hailey Angevine, captain of the girls soccer team. Hailey is committed to St. Joseph’s College. She has been attracted to the sport from a very young age. She has played soccer since she was three years old. What separates Hailey from everybody else is her dedication. She never misses a practice and, to improve, she regularly attends soccer clinics. Hailey credits her coaches with making the biggest impact on her soccer career. Without them, Hailey would have a totally different view on the sport she loves. One of these coaches, Coach Connolly, commented on Hailey as a player. “What has always separated Hailey from the others is her drive and focus. [She] always does the right thing no matter if it was practice or a game. She is never distracted or goofing off.” He also added, “Her consistency puts her in a class above her peers.” These qualities have all helped Hailey achieve success with her goals in high school – especially in soccer.

Ariella Lerner is another senior athlete. She will be playing lacrosse in college. She fell in love with the sport at the age of eight, and has been inseparable with her lacrosse stick since then. Because girls lacrosse is not a popular sport in Great Neck, Ariella took it into her own hands to pursue her passion. She plays on several club teams and in other youth programs outside of town. Additionally, she trains on her own as often as she can. Ariella practices drills such as wall ball and shooting to further her training. Her passionate pursuit in lacrosse is sure to stay with her for the next few years. Next fall, she plans on attending Muhlenberg College. She stated, “In college, I plan on staying as motivated as I have been in the past years and hope to continue working extremely hard. I’m very excited to continue playing the sport I love at the next level.” Ariella has been added to the liberal arts college’s roster for women’s lacrosse, and North will continue to cheer her on for the next few years.

One other senior who has committed to college for a sport is Joseph Jacobs, who will be playing baseball at State University of New York at Cortland. He has been playing the sport both competitively and for fun for most of his life. Joey has pitched for North’s team and has led the team to victory for all four years of high school. He is looking forward to continuing his career as a pitcher for the upstate college.

High school athletes must invest a tremendous amount of hard work, dedication and time if they want to further their athletic career in college. Fortunately, North has been able to pass a few very of their very talented and passionate athletes to a higher level of sports. We hope these athletes will carry the Blazer pride with them into the future.

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Taking it to the Next Level: College Athletes