Seniors journey to continue their athletic career

Seniors take their sport to the next level.

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Seniors journey to continue their athletic career

Olivia Matlock prepares to catch the ball. photo by Torri Henry

Olivia Matlock prepares to catch the ball. photo by Torri Henry

Olivia Matlock prepares to catch the ball. photo by Torri Henry

Olivia Matlock prepares to catch the ball. photo by Torri Henry

by Kendall Lanier, Sports Editor

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Seniors Monica Looney, Claire Ryan and Olivia Matlock step onto the bright green turf on a crisp February afternoon. As they lace up their cleats, it dawns on them that this will be their last lacrosse tryout at STA. Though this will be their last season wearing black and gold, it won’t be the end of their athletic careers.

According to the three, their commitments to the sport has paid off. Countless practices, games and tournaments at times obscured the finish line. But in sticking with the sport, all three girls will have the opportunity to play lacrosse in college.

Looney is continuing her lacrosse career at Regis University, Ryan is playing at Benedictine College and Matlock at Monmouth University.

For both Looney and Ryan, participating in college level athletics has been a dream since just seventh grade. For Matlock however, higher level lacrosse didn’t seem like a possibility until the end of her freshman year.

According to Ryan, the recruitment process can be very stressful because coaches cannot reach out to the athletes until junior year, so it is a great deal of personal responsibility reaching out to as many coaches as possible. Ryan says that before the athletes go to a tournament, they do as much  research as possible to try to see what colleges will be there and what their coaches typically look for.

When narrowing schools down, the athletes looked at many aspects of a school’s lacrosse program. They explored the dynamics of the teams, the personalities of the coaches and the varying difficulty in playing level.

“At my school, it’s a newer program, so it will be nice to build a foundation for others,” Matlock said.

Playing lacrosse in Kansas City has made this process even harder for Matlock. It is not a popular sport in the Midwest, so this has required the athletes to travel more to get exposure.

“In the beginning we traveled so much to the point where we were only [home] for about two weeks in the summer,” Looney said.

Similar to lacrosse, rowing is a relatively uncommon sport especially in the midwest. Senior Karen Crouch is planning to continue her rowing career at Creighton University next year.

“My club team has had new coaches each year which has made for a hard adjustment at times, so it has been a lot of work on my own,” Crouch said.

With Crouch being a very competitive person, it has made her determination to succeed in the sport even greater. Crouch didn’t start rowing until sophomore year, but she was a volleyball player so she already had much of the strength needed for rowing. Her goals have always been very clear to her: to work hard and get to the next level in her sport.

“I’m really competitive, and I don’t want to lose,” Crouch said. “My club rows with boys and I don’t want to lose to boys and I don’t want to lose to the girl next to me. It feels great when you win, especially when it’s against boys,.”

For all of the athletes, the most important thing has always been making sure the school fits their academic needs.

“Make sure the school has what you need in an education sense before looking at the sports program because it could be perfect but it may not have your major,” said Matlock.

Although playing a sport in college is a large desire, it will not trump the importance of the level of education they receive according to the athletes. They do better in school when they are busy because there will be no time to procrastinate.

“There’s no time to dilly dally but it might be good to have a schedule because once you finish everything then you can go do other things,” Matlock said.

Although the athletes schedules will be very busy, they won’t be going through it alone. They will be spending a lot of time with their team.

“The team looks out for everyone and makes sure they’re on track,” Ryan said.

According to Crouch, there are several perks that come from playing a sport in college. The athletes are given loads of gear to wear. They are provided with an academic counselor specifically for their sport who is there to help them at any time.

As their senior year comes to a close, the athletes have mixed emotions about the uncertainty to come.

“It’s always going to be hard meeting people going to a new place but I’m excited,” Matlock said.

The athletes are going to put in a lot of work during the summer to make sure they are ready for their season. Crouch feels she is ready to take on what the college athlete lifestyle brings.

“I’ve gone through a lot of adversity in rowing, with being in a small club, and I’ve really had to prove myself,” Crouch said.

According to Looney, it has not been easy getting to this level but it has definitely been worth it.

“The work that we put in has made me who I am,” Looney said.

Over the years, this hard work paired with fond memories has shaped the athletes’ experiences.

“It was a lot of work but when you look back on it you have so many good experiences,” Ryan said. “It probably sucked in the time being but then you realize it all pays off.”

All of the athletes could agree that for future college athletes, starting the decision process as early as possible can help in the long run.

“It can be an awful experience at times,” Crouch said. “I’ve put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into it, but I’m starting to get it all back now that I’m getting to the college level. If you want to put the time into it, it’s worth it.”

Although at times sports may feel like the main focus, it is important to enjoy the journey.

“Don’t take it too seriously to the point where it has become your whole life,” Ryan said. “Part of the process was making the fun memories.”

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