From leeway during practices to a form of survival (as in eating/cooking for oneself)
to basic independence to basic forms of responsibility (getting to class on time, having clean clothes to wear, e.g.), the first year in college can be a major switch in lifestyles.
If you’re a college athlete, then the switch can be just that much more intense. Not only aren’t the parents around for reminders about homework and bed time, there’s also the demands of individual sports.
In the first of a three-part series, some of the area’s former athletes talk about the change from high school to college and how they handled the switch.
Former Frederick wrestler Cole Hoffman, who’s attending Northwest Kansas Technical College in Goodland, Kansas, said high school offered him more leeway.
“You could get by with slacking off on the rare occasion. When it comes to college, the expectation is that you show up every day, twice a day, with the best attitude possible and work your tail off 10 times better than the day before,” he said. “If you can’t meet those set expectations, then coach has no problem sending you packing. The mindset is that someone is always working harder than you, and that is unacceptable.”
Former Brighton High School track standout and Eagle Ridge Academy student Cameron Harris said the adjustment was “more drastic” than he would have expected. Harris attends the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
“The time commitment is a bit more of a challenge compared to high school,” he said. “Personally, this is big for me because the workload is also a bit heavier than I was used to, so it makes prioritizing a bit more difficult at times, especially when you have more homework than usual or feel the need to study extra for upcoming assessments or assignments.”
Former Fort Lupton athlete Gaven Case, who won three awards in baseball, basketball, football and track and field, is attending Johnson & Wales University in Denver. He said the transition was “big.”
“Since I took a year off, I found it even harder to get back into the swing of things,” Case said. “I tried out for the basketball team and barely didn’t make the cut. So I decided to go out for track. No matter what sport it is, I would say that in college sports are taken very serious. I would say the toughest part is getting used to practices early in the morning and sometimes twice a day. We constantly lift, which i was also not used to.”
“There is a big adjustment from high school to college,” said former Prairie View basketball player Ashtyn Delorenzo. She’s playing at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling. “The speed of the game is a lot different that’s for sure, so it can take time to adjust.”
Fort Lupton’s Ivan Quezada, who wound up at Bethany College to play basketball, agreed.
“For sure, the intensity and speed of the game,” he said. “I’ve adjusted to it as I’ve gone along.”
Another former Fort Lupton athlete, Gianna Tijerina, who played a coronavirus-shortened shortened softball season at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, said college-level sports offer a different environment.
“In high school, you are able to participate in multiple sports. In college, your total focus is on one sport which, for me, is softball,” Tijerina said. “The toughest part for me was body recovery and making sure I’m healthy. I’ve never had to take ice baths in my life until I got here at school. They’re life savers after long practices and weight sessions with our power lifting coach.”
Former Brighton High School basketball player Brayden Schlitt wound up at Laramie Community College in Wyoming.
“The adjustments from the switch, at first, were difficult, going from night practice with school during the day to morning practices and school. he practices got harder, and the competition got better,” he said.
“The main difference from high school to college is that the coaches aren’t there to coach. It is like a business,” said former Fort Lupton baseball player Dusty Howard, who is toiled at McPherson College for a partial season before coronavirus stopped play. “It is like a business. If you can’t perform the way they want you to, they will find someone else who can.”
Classmate Yadir Castillo, who played football for the Bluedevils, is attending Hastings College in Nebraska.
“The tough part was having to medically redshirt,” he said. “They definitely take injuries a lot more serious unlike high school where I was playing with almost a broken ankle all of senior year.”
Camryn Mullen, who played softball for Prairie View, joined the team at Colorado Mesa University for a virus-shortened season.
“I believe that I was more prepared to make the adjustments needed from high school to college sports than others,” she said. “Since I was a multi-sport student athlete, who not only played for my high school, but also played club ball, and because I was taking college courses at Front Range during my high school years, I think I was fairly prepared to be a college student-athlete.”
One of her classmates, Deljañae Marie Coleman, played soccer in high school and plays soccer for Northeastern Junior College in Sterling. She said college sports were “a lot more difficult and demanding than high school.”
“But i truly think it’s way more fun than high school,no offense,” she said. “The conditioning aspects are the hardest, especially during preseason. But other than that, I’ve loved the experience.”
Former Fort Lupton softball player Amberlea Crowe, who played a virus-shortened season at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, said the adjustment was a challenge.
“College sports take most of your time because not only are you practicing for three hours in the afternoon, but at 6 a.m., you have conditioning before your classes,” she said. “The adjustment, physically, was difficult. Ice is the key to healing your body because it is nonstop working.”
The schedule was a bit of a change, too. Crowe said a high-school schedule involved 40 or so games and a two-hour practice after school.
“College athletics require your best effort always,” she said. “In high school, you would only work on bettering yourself during your designated practice times. In college, you are expected to better yourself on your own time outside of practice. This includes giving your body the right food, working out on your own time and thinking about how to make yourself better on your own.”
Hoffman said at first, the change was tough.
“The road was a cliff. There was no grace period to try again, it was either you did what was expected or you didn’t,” he said. “With the help and support of my family and teammates, I really started to find my groove and acknowledge the phrase ‘embrace the grind.’”
Case said the switch was difficult at first.
“But after getting on a schedule, everything begins to get easier,” he said. “I would say now that I’m used to it, i have adjusted pretty well.”
“The switch has been difficult but I slowly got the hang of it and how the game works,” Delorenzo said.
“I have handled the switch pretty well,” Tijerina said. “I enjoy being independent, and being away from home has taught me a lot about myself and has helped me grow as a person.”
“I feel like I’ve been able to maintain the switch well,” Schlitt said.
Howard said he started as an outfielder at McPherson.
“However, they felt like the best thing for me and for the team was for me to pitch. So that’s what I am doing,” he said. “It took a while to adjust, but everything has been working out.”
Castillo called the switch from high school to college “very smooth.”
“Everyone, such as teammates and coaches, took me in really well and treated me like I’ve been there forever,” he said.
Harris said the switch’s impact depends on the person.
“But after a good portion into the first semester, I eventually gained leverage,” Harris said. “One of the biggest things I had to remember to do was to prioritize my sleep schedule to make sure that I was recovering properly and not going to practice exhausted. This has definitely helped me adjust fairly quickly, seeing that my schedule has to be somewhat flexible every day.”
“I knew what it was like to be an athlete and take harder classes,” Mullen said. “However, there were still a few adjustments.”
Coleman said the switch was “super easy.”
“I got the amazing opportunity to go play college soccer with one of my best childhood friends, Adrianna Vargas, so it was pretty easy to adjust with someone you know there,” Coleman said. “I tried my hardest to be friendly and welcoming with everyone, and it was pretty easy making friends, especially at such a small school like a junior college.”
“I have handled the switch, you have to,” Crowe said. “If you can’t handle it, you won’t be a part of the team. It took some time to adjust to always working on making my skills better. But at the end of each day, it is always worth it.”