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The Competitive Exciting Life of a College Athlete

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n 2017, nearly 100 of Maine’s recent high school graduates will be competing in D1 and D2 schools according to a report last spring by the Portland Press Herald. This year’s total is nearly a 35% increase from 2016.  There are 26 track and field athletes, 16 baseball players and 10 field hockey players according to telegram research. Thornton Academy alone has 38 athletes from the class of 2017 that plan on playing a sport in college.

Carl Smith a track and field coach at TA tells what he looks for in athletes wanting to play in college. “For me I can usually tell by the end of junior year what level an athlete can play at college. The things that I look for in skill is the athlete’s speed and talent in that sport. As for mental, I look for how much the athlete knows about the sport to improve their ability. The other thing that I look at is their mental toughness and their ability to motivate themselves.”

According to newsource The Odyssey, the glamorous portrayal of the life of a college athlete is not as fabulous as it seems. Being a college athlete takes incredible dedication, and athletes have to focus their life around the sport that they’re committed to. They have to keep their diet clean, workout daily, and practice year round — not just while their sport is in season. College is a difficult time to begin with, students are still adjusting to newfound independence, different surroundings, and the stress of being on your own for the first time. In addition to this, athletes have to balance constant practice and training with homework. It takes time, dedication, and strength.  

Alexis Nason ‘16, was recruited in her senior year to play Soccer at Assumption College. “For me the recruiting process was pretty stressful, I started the process a little late, so I felt a little bit rushed to see all the schools I wanted to but once I got further into the process everything started to just fall in place and I just had to make my decision.”

Nason is thankful that TA helped her by making sure she was on top of her academics, she said that’s honestly one of the biggest parts of college athletics is being able to stay on top of your grades while being in season so you’re eligible to play. She also feels lucky that in high school she, “was able to play with and against so many good players that went on to play in college as well so it was good to experience that kind of competition.”

The biggest difference between college and high school athletics is the time commitment says Nason, in college you have practice everyday, sometimes film meetings on top of that, lifts and then game days. This is a dramatic change from high school where players have a short practice and then are done for the day. “It really teaches you how to manage your time and stay on top of your homework so you aren’t getting behind.”

Nason describes her first college game as the most nerve racking experience of her life.  “I was obviously very excited but also shaking because I was so nervous to make a mistake and I didn’t want to let my team down, but it was such a good feeling having your name announced and having your friends there cheering for you.”

The most challenging moment for Nason was her freshman year preseason, “I felt very unprepared, I thought that I had prepared myself mentally and physically, but I was very homesick and my body hurt all the time because it was just constant soccer practice 24/7. It took me awhile to deal with all of that and cope, but I would talk to my parents a lot and once I started to get really close with everyone on my team it was easier to stay positive and push through it all.”

The best moment for her this fall was Assumption’s first home game against Stonehill College, they won their conference last year and Nason and her teammates beat them 3-1 in front of a huge home crowd. “It was a great feeling to be playing in front of everyone and to be able to start our season on such a high note by beating a top team.”

Nason’s advice for high school athletes aspiring to play in college would be to start looking at schools and talking to coaches as soon as possible, the more ahead of the game you are the less stressful the whole process will be. She also advises to stay on top of your grades, when coaches look at a recruit grades are a huge part of it and determines a lot about the financial aid you’ll receive.
Cameron Cadorette ‘17 was recruited his senior to play Football at University of New England. The recruiting process was fairly simple for him, it consisted of a lot of phone calls with the coaches and visits to check out the campus. “The coaches reached out to me a lot and always checked in on me to see where my head was at.”

Cadorette felt TA prepared him for the next level. Thornton was always helpful in answering any questions he had and felt they were always seeking his best interest. Teachers, coaches and friends all helped him grow as a person and prepare him for college sports.

He describes college athletics as a lot busier and time consuming. “There is a lot more training and time put in than just practices and games.”

The first game was very exciting especially because it was UNE’s first ever football game said Cadorette. “There were a lot of fans and energetic throughout the stadium. I can remember my heart pounding and having butterflies in my stomach just like during Friday night lights in high school.”

Often times Cadorette finds himself being undersized during games. UNE is a first year program so they have a majority of freshman on the team. “We play against kids that are older and bigger than us. When I play someone bigger than me I make sure to use my speed and technique to my advantage.”

The best moment this season came to the team in their first win against Norwich said Cadorette. “We were up one touchdown with only seconds left. Norwich had the ball and threw a Hail Mary type pass to the guy I was guarding and I jumped up and swatted the ball to the ground as time expired to win the game. That’s my favorite memory so far.”

Cadorette tells high school students to make sure they love the game their playing. “It’s a big commitment but it’s worth it if you have passion for the sport. The minute you lose passion is the minute it stops being fun. So you have to make sure you really love the sport.”

Noah Niles ‘17 was recruited his senior year to play Soccer at Wentworth Institute of Technology.
“The coach saw me play in Massachusetts and reached out to me after the game. I eventually went and watched a few games and did an overnight.”

TA gave Niles a good environment and resources to learn and grow. The athletes in college are  bigger and better tells Niles. “Everything’s more competitive and serious, it’s a big commitment.”

Niles describes his first game feelings as excited and nervous. His first day of preseason he felt very unprepared because of the amount of running. “I managed it by eating healthy and hydrating.”     

“Make sure you’re ready for commitment.” Niles tells athletes wanting to play in college. Athletes this year are already working hard on and off the field or court to be recruited. They are showing their dedication to the sport they love and also working hard in the classroom. 



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