Continuing the grind

Senior athletes prepare for rigorous transition to college sports


Faith Carter

Yaniah Curry is on the move, prepping to catch a pass from a teammate. This is her fourth year on the FHC varsity team, an impressive feat for any player in any sport, and will be attending the University of Toledo in Ohio on a basketball scholarship.

Megan Percy, Discover editor

Many graduating seniors see moving onto college from high school as a way to let go of themselves and move on from who they were as adolescents. They say goodbye to the teachers and peers they have coexisted with for 4 years. But seniors Yaniah Curry and George Schlotzhauer, and millions of others across the country, despite leaving everything else, get to continue playing their sports in college.

Curry, named the 2019 St. Charles County Large School Female Athlete of the Year, will be playing basketball at the University of Toledo in Ohio. Schlotzhauer, co-founder of the FHC Esports team, will be playing esports at Central Methodist University. Both are accomplished in their respective careers and both received scholarships as part of the chance to play for their respective teams.

Going from high school to college for anyone is a big step, in which transitioning students are moving from traditionally smaller schools to bigger ones with people unknown to them. But for athletes it means taking it to the next level, competing with higher caliber groups, and seeing if they will sink or swim. Schlotzhauer, who learned esports from his brother and self-teaching, feels the pressure to keep up with his teammates who have different backgrounds and skill levels.

“I’m really nervous,” Schlotzhauer said. “I’ve already met a lot of people who already play on a team at Central Methodist and there’s really good players there. It’s really scary because I don’t know how I’ll match up against some of these higher up players.”

However, he also says he is ecstatic to have this opportunity and continue forward with others who share his passion.

“To have a team of dedicated people who share the same passion as me, to want to improve and do the same stuff, really appeals to me…it’s exciting,” Schlotzhauer said.

Curry shares his excitement, but unlike Schlotzhauer is not particularly worried. She owes this to her personality type and her desire to roam.

“I think right now I’m just really excited,” Curry said. “I’ve always been more of an adventure-type person, like I always want to travel, I want to do things.”

Former college soccer player from Lindenwood University and current English teacher Mrs. Laurie Penuel can attest to the positives of continuing to play a sport in college, as she dedicates a part of who she was in college to being a player as she was learning social skills she needed as an adult.

“That was a large part of my identity and [I] met a great deal of people along the way and learned alot about myself through successes and failures,” Mrs. Penuel said. “I think it helps you with the social aspect that you don’t usually get just sitting in classes, you’re working with people and sometimes it’s people that you don’t really like, but when you are forced to work with them, you learn how to get along well with others.”

When being tested by college sports to see how good an athlete really is, they have to wonder whether or not they are ready. Though she admits she may have difficulty at some points while playing college basketball, Curry says she feels as if she has been aptly readied for the road ahead.

“I feel prepared with what I have done, but there’s definitely going to be challenges that come up and that’s just part of the game,” Curry said. “You won’t always be prepared for everything, but you can adjust, and I think I’m prepared to be able to adjust.”

Not all of college sports tests players. It also aids them in multiple ways. Mrs. Penuel, Schlotzhauer, and Curry all were financially helped with college through sports. The team bond that goes into the making of an actively competing group is also a social bond that can form connections for life. Schlotzhauer looks forward to making friends amongst the people he plays with.

“It’ll start me off with people that it will be easy to socialize with,” Schlotzhauer said. “I’ll get to know some people very quickly at least to start with and hopefully I’ll make some friends.”

Mrs. Penuel can attest that this theory is possible, as she experienced many joyous moments with her own team, and still remains bonded to those she spent time with and played with over her collegiate athletic career.

“Those are some of the best memories that I have in life, being with some of the girls I played with and some of the teams I played for and really creating who I was,” Mrs. Penuel said.

In addition to close friendship, the team bonds formed can create a safety net for freshmen still getting the feel for college. Curry says she thinks that her own team will help her and support her in this way as she learns how to be a successful college student and a focused college player

“It will definitely give me some of that discipline that some other freshmen don’t really start off with and it will provide me with a support system to kind of go through that,” Curry said.

As these seniors graduate and get ready to say goodbye to many things that are familiar, it can be a comfort that they will still be able to compete in the sport that they love and have loved for years previous. As they begin to start their new lives and careers at university, Mrs. Penuel reminds them to always remember to appreciate the time they spend practicing and playing their sports.

“Soak it up, even on the pre-season days, the two-a-days, and sometimes three-a-days, [even] things that you are dreading,” Mrs. Penuel said. “Those will be days you wish you could get back because of the experiences and the people you’re with.”