Seniors commit to their choosing on College Signing Day

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Seniors commit to their choosing on College Signing Day

Seniors wait to sign their letters of commit to the school of their choosing. For senior Tommy Mohan, he still cannot believe he was able to get to this level.

Seniors wait to sign their letters of commit to the school of their choosing. For senior Tommy Mohan, he still cannot believe he was able to get to this level. "As a little kid, that’s who you look up to and then now that you actually are what you looked up to, it’s like unbelievable," Mohan said.

Nayeon Ryu

Seniors wait to sign their letters of commit to the school of their choosing. For senior Tommy Mohan, he still cannot believe he was able to get to this level. "As a little kid, that’s who you look up to and then now that you actually are what you looked up to, it’s like unbelievable," Mohan said.

Nayeon Ryu

Nayeon Ryu

Seniors wait to sign their letters of commit to the school of their choosing. For senior Tommy Mohan, he still cannot believe he was able to get to this level. "As a little kid, that’s who you look up to and then now that you actually are what you looked up to, it’s like unbelievable," Mohan said.

By Ridwan Oyebamiji, Parkway West High School

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Jason Reilly

Nayeon Ryu
Senior Jason Reilly looks at his letter of commit as he prepares to sign with Westminister Collge.

Having played baseball since he was four years old, continuing the sport in college was almost a no-brainer for senior Jason Reilly. Reilly committed to play baseball for Westminster, following in the footsteps of varsity baseball coach and math teacher Andrew Jett. 

“What really drove me to [Westminster] was Coach Jett. He used to go there and he played baseball there,” Reilly said. “A couple other people that I know went there and they said such good things about it and it’s really good academically.”

While Jett was Reilly’s motivation to attend Westminster, Reilly’s first baseball inspirations came from his love of baseball cards and his grandfather.

“I started when I was a kid and the main thing that I liked was baseball cards,” Reilly said. “My old coach used to give me baseball cards and my grandpa used to play for Mizzou.”

After committing to Westminster, Reilly reflected on his time playing high school baseball.

“I like getting to know all the people I play with,” Reilly said. “I’ve only played varsity for five games. I played on C-team sophomore year so I got to know all the freshmen that were playing that year, and then on JV, I met more freshmen. It was just getting to know new people instead of just people in my grade.”

Tyler Gilmore

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Senior Tyler Gilmore signs his letter of commit to play for DePauw University.

Senior Tyler Gilmore always knew that he wanted to play baseball in college, but he never thought he would find the school that was “totally the right fit” for him until he found DePauw University.

“Growing up and through youth [baseball], I always wanted to play in college,” Gilmore said. “It didn’t get real until summer after sophomore year when I started getting contacted by schools and started going to camps and showcases. I got lucky one day because I had a really good game in front of the school that I wanted to go to and they offered.”

Athletics were important to Gilmore in choosing a school, but they were not the only factor.

“I cared a lot about location and academics and athletics wasn’t the main priority, but I obviously wanted to play. I cared about location because I didn’t want to be too close to home because I wanted to experience something new.”

Throughout his high school baseball career, Gilmore has a lot of moments that he is proud of.

“[My proudest moment was] when we beat CBC (Christian Brothers College High School) for the first time. We hadn’t done it in years so it was really cool.”

Brady Sweet

Zoe DeYoung
Senior Brady Sweet signs with MIssouri Baptist University.

Senior Brady Sweet has been running track since seventh grade, but running did not come to fruition until now.

“It started in early September. I was looking at some schools and Missouri Baptist contacted me saying that they wanted me to run track there,” Sweet said. “So I went there. I met with their coach and toured the campus and it felt like it was a good spot for me.”

Sweet was surprised to find out he would have a chance to run track in college.

“To be completely honest, I had no idea that track was in my future,” Sweet said. “At first, I thought I’d just go off to college and be a normal student, but I started doing really well in track and I may have a shot at this in college,” Sweet said..

After competing at state in his sophomore year, college athletics became more of a reality for Sweet.

“My biggest accomplishment is definitely going to state sophomore year,” Sweet said. “That was a pretty big accomplishment and also having the best 100 and 200 yard dash on my team and in our conference.”

Tommy Mohan

Nayeon Ryu
Senior Tommy Mohan smiles as he signs with McKendree University.

Senior Tommy Mohan thought he would have a chance at college athletics, but as his high school career progressed, Mohan started to look further into this idea.

“I started going to [camps] freshman year, but I didn’t really start reaching out to coaches to [till] sophomore year,” Mohan said. “Then it really started to pick up junior year because they started to contact me.”

After driving out to McKendree University, Mohan knew the school would be the right fit for him.

“I drove out to McKendree and watched the practice and that’s when I totally decided on McKendree and I wanted to go there,” Mohan said.

Mohan believes he was able to make due to his work ethic and his coach.

“I always working hard by hitting all the time, especially for baseball. Everyone is a bad hitter,” Mohan said. “You can fail most of the time and still be a great hitter. Just always working on that and my coaches [would] always help me get better. My hitting coach, Steve, is probably my greatest influencer and my biggest person that helped me out.”

Before signing to McKendree, Mohan was always worried about ruining his chances if he were to have an injury.

“McKendree was really into me playing football and he’d always ask how the season is going so he wasn’t afraid of me getting hurt,” Mohan said. “I’ve always been worried if I get hurt and lose what I have, but that’s always scary. I’ve always played football, [and] it’s my senior year so of course I’m going to play.”

The ability to continue playing baseball at an elite level is still a shock to Mohan.

“As a little kid, that’s who you look up to and now that you actually are what you looked up to is like unbelievable,” Mohan said.

Anika Zepeda

Zoe DeYoung
Senior Anika Zepeda signs with Hiram College.

Senior Anika Zepeda knew she could not have made a better choice by signing with Hiram College, especially through the obstacles she faced getting there. 

“I thought that after my senior year, it was just going to end, but I think the closer I got to meeting new coaches, that was like ‘wow, I’m at the level of play that college is,’” Zepeda said. “Because I always got shot down for being shorter, some people were like, ‘you can’t really play at this high level,’ replacing me even if they weren’t better.”

Initially, soccer was not Zepeda’s primary sport.

“I’ve been playing [soccer] for 15 years. Before that, I did ballet and dance for two years. I went through these classes and they were too boring. My mom suggested that I play soccer and I think as I got older, I was like ‘this is fun and this is cool.’”

Zepeda believes that she had a drive for the game that no else around her had.

“I think it’s because I had this drive that a lot of other people didn’t have when it came to playing, especially in goal. A lot of people that I used to play alongside with, either got burnt out or it became too competitive,” Zepeda said. “I think that I’ve always had this thing where if something knocks me down, it makes me work a lot harder or I don’t really get discouraged quickly so I think it’s the drive that I have from wanting to play. I’ve always wanted to play the hardest team or put myself out there.”

Education was an important factor for Zepeda when choosing a school, but Zepeda also wanted to be able to build a sense of camaraderie among the people around her, similarly to what she built in high school.

“I think the part that made my decision was the academics that they offered and also how the coach was. He believes that the order that it goes in is family, school and sports,” Zepada said. “ I think one of my favorite things is still being here and I’m really proud of the team that I’ve been playing with for four years and all the seniors that are still here.”

Allyson Sewester

Zoe DeYoung
Senior Allyson Sewester takes off the pen cap as she prepares to sign with Truman State University.

Senior Allyson Sewester overcame many obstacles while she played soccer in high school, especially a knee injury that continuously sidelined.

“Basically, I was injured for a while and I was running out of time to find a college to play soccer,” Sewester said. “So my friend from Wisconsin who I had played with years ago said we should go to this ID camp. I went to Truman’s ID camp, fell in love with the school and the coaches.

While attending the Truman ID camp, Sewester hoped to get recognized by the coaches at the school.

“Potential prospects that will play college athletics go for a camp so they can get exposure from the coaches and they can see if they want them to play for them,” Sewester said. “I went there and they offered me a scholarship [for] soccer. I accepted and that’s where I’m going.”

Although Sewester’s chance of playing in college was low due to her injury, she was still looking for a school that exempted her from soccer without taking away her scholarships.

“The scholarship [was a big] part [because] my parents aren’t paying for college, so it’s all on me. I needed [some assurance] to make sure I still get this money even if something happens to me,” Sewester said. “Before I accepted, I talked to the coach and he said I can keep my scholarship if I’m injured. I just have to become a manager for the soccer team during games.

Even with Sewester’s injury, she believes she was only able to come back because of her passion for the sport.

“My parents always tell me to do my best and that always pushed me to be the best. I had been injured for two years and I was like ‘I’m going to come back better than ever because I’m not going to disappoint anyone,’” Sewester said. “I don’t want to live in the fear of getting injured again so I’ll play as hard as I can.”

Sewester made sure she came back stronger by listening to advice from her coaches and peers.

“Literally, I would train everyday. Even if we had practice, I would wake up and go on a run or finish my day with a run. My club coach also pushed me harder. He sent me runs so that I had to make it in a certain amount of time,” Sewester said. “My skills have always been mediocre, but it was really my speed that I needed in soccer so basically during practice, I could tell I was getting better by when we were doing sprints.”

This work ethic paid off in her first game back from injury.

“When I came back after a year, I scored a [penalty] at my first high school home game. My coach actually freaked out because the girl fouled me in the box, I went down and she didn’t know what was wrong. I stayed there for a moment because it just caught me off guard.”

Though Sewester will always face the risk of getting injured again, she is only hoping to gain more experience on the field.

“I really want to be able to not just do the game for what I love, but being able to pay for college for doing that is really cool. Also, I don’t have to gain the freshman 20. But I also just love playing so that’s what I want to do.”

Holden Potter

Zoe DeYoung
Senior Holden Potter signs with Truman State University as his parents cheer him on.

Senior Holden Potter was unsure if he even had the talent to play college athletics. But after attending camps, it made the decision a lot easier.

“Over the summer, I did a camp at Truman and my cousins, who played soccer there, went there with me so the coach kind of knew me.  He pointed me out and started talking to me so we had a cool connection. He offered me scholarship money to get me [more] interested in the college,” Potter said. “I did some research on the college and it had a really good program for teaching and education. I’ve always wanted to go there since my family went there, but after talking with the coach and seeing all the programs they had, I really wanted to go there and play soccer as well.”

In Potter’s decision, he considered the factor of playing at a Division I school over a Division II school.

“I wasn’t sure if I was good enough for DI or DII, but I saw that I wanted to play DII over DI anyway since I don’t want soccer to feel like a job,” Potter said. “But it’s going to be fun.”

Even though Potter aspired for college athletics, he was still unsure, especially after junior year whether this was something he wanted to do.

“It’s always been a goal but it slowed down my sophomore and junior [because] I didn’t know if it was something I really wanted to. I just knew that it’d be awesome,” Potter said. “But now, I really want to. I thought it’d be cool to play in college and to be better. I know in high school, you get a lot better just from the four years. But after seeing four years of college soccer, you can get way better.”  

Potter sees this as a path to develop more knowledge of the game.

“I want to gain more [knowledge of soccer] overall. After college, I could know the game a lot more. Also, just being better at it and having a stronger connection with the coach there.”

Despite all of his accomplishments throughout his high school career, Potter believes the leadership he demonstrated on the field made his impact stay after he leaves the school.

“This year, I got the leadership award, which is really cool because I was one of the captains. I personally didn’t think I was going to get the leadership award, but a lot of the other guys look up to me and it’s really cool to earn that award more than any other award that was given.”

This story was originally published on Pathfinder on November 13, 2019.