WHS students continue athletics at the collegiate level

28 seniors will be continuing their athletic careers in college ranging from Division I to Division III across 13 different sports. This group of seniors endured a unique recruiting experience due to the pandemic, but they persevered, and are excited for the next chapter of their lives. 

Emma Ciullo, who will be continuing her athletic career as a cheerleader for Rutgers, said, “I decided to continue cheer because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye and I wanted to take it to the next level.” 

 University of Maryland, Baltimore County baseball commit Chris Ho shared a similar sentiment. “I decided to continue my athletic career in college because I still have a lot of love for baseball. My parents sacrificed a lot for me to continue playing and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities that were given to me.”

The recruiting process can be different for all athletes and varies a lot based on the sport. For athletes who participate in sports like soccer or lacrosse, going to recruiting camps can be key to getting on a college coach’s radar, whereas sports like track & field or swimming have personal statistics they can more easily send to coaches after competing. Despite what many people think, being recruited is a strenuous process that takes immense patience and determination. 

Chloe Pappalardo, who will play lacrosse at Susquehanna, said, “It was obviously stressful in the beginning of my junior year and I felt like everyone was scrambling to get time to talk to coaches and to be seen… One of the most stressful parts for me was trying to make all the right choices, like which camps to go to and what to say on recruiting calls.”

Another challenge many student-athletes faced, which was unique to this year, was the inability to take official or even unofficial visits to schools. Will Heflin, who will continue playing football at the University of Chicago next fall, said, “Interactions with coaches and schools were almost entirely verbal and visiting was extremely difficult.” 

These visits not only allow athletes to explore a school’s academic and social environment, but they also provide student-athletes with the opportunity to connect with their coaches and potential teammates on a more personal level. 

Mia Fleming, who will play for the University of Southern California’s lacrosse team, had the opportunity to take an official visit pre-pandemic. Fleming said she made her official visit after committing and it just “made [her] love the school even more.” 

Gianna Mangiamele, who will continue her volleyball career at Franklin & Marshall College, was in a similar situation: “Seeing as I verbally committed to playing volleyball at F&M in July, I was fortunate to have been far enough along in the recruitment process when COVID restrictions were put in place.”

Despite the challenges, these student-athletes are excited for what is to come. Isabel Boufarah, cross country and track & field commit for Washington University in St. Louis, said, “I am excited to be joining the WashU teams next year as running has become such an important part of my life. When I joined the track team freshman year I didn’t know I would be stepping into my forever home, so I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to continue this experience.”

Despite the adversity faced in this year’s recruitment process, it was a rewarding experience for many. Heflin said, “Overall, I think the recruiting process helped me develop better communication skills and helped me facilitate and condense my priorities pertaining to my future academic endeavors.”