By Steve Smith
In the week before Christmas, Brighton High School swimmer Jespyn Bishop made his list, checked it twice and decided McKendree University was more than nice enough for him to enroll.
Bishop plans to play on the school’s water polo team.
“Out of all the options I was looking at for college, MKkendree was the best option for me,” Bishop said. “Going there would allow me to play water polo, have good academics, get a four-year degree and, over the course of four years, it had the best financial plan where I wouldn't have too much student loans.
“Although it is 13 hours away from Brighton not much will change, because the college is in a small town, and the city of St. Louis is only 30 minutes away.”
Bishop was able to see the campus twice, one in June for an unofficial visit and once in October for his allowed official visit with the water polo team.
“It was interesting seeing the campus empty in June, then going back in October and seeing everything functioning even with COVID going on,” Bishop said. “Both times I went, I enjoyed the smaller campus where everything is basically less than a five-minute walk away. I also loved the town of Lebanon. That definitely has a small-town vibe. Main Street is paved with stones, and small shops line the sides of the road.”
Bishop finished 35th in the 50-yard freestyle and 29th in the 100- freestyle at the state swimming meet in 2019. He helped the Bulldogs to a 28th-place finish in the state 200- freestyle relay in 2019 and to a 30th-place finish in the 200- medley relay.
There was no state meet in 2020 because of coronavirus.
“I would more say it was the best option for me across the board,” Bishop said. “It gave me the best financial, athletic and academic options. There were other colleges that definitely had its advantages. But in the end, I felt Mckendree was better for me.”
During his two visits, Bishop was able to meet and visit with the head coach and the assistant coach of the water polo team.
“I had been talking with the assistant coach specifically since March,” he said. “I got to meet and hang out with their team in October on campus where they showed me around. It was a very good experience, and I definitely liked the environment surrounding the team, which was one of the deciding factors for me.”
When he was in middle school, Bishop liked the idea of being a lawyer. But now, things may have changed.
“Now that I'm actually looking at school, I don't really want to go through that many years of schooling,” Bishop said. “I applied to McKendree to study criminal justice, but I'm still not set on that and am looking at other options. I am still pretty open but I am beginning to make a decision on what I want to do, which will help me with deciding what I want to study.”
If Bishop moves forward with criminal justice, he may wind up in law school. His sister, Jill, talked about joining the FBI. Jespyn Bishop is the editor of the school yearbook, Reflections, so journalism – specifically photography -- is a field open for consideration, too.
“Recruiting was a little bit strange. But overall, there really weren't any problems for me,” Bishop said. “I assume much hasn't changed from what it was like to get recruited before the pandemic, besides the fact that there is less in-person contact. There was a lot of emailing and a few Zoom calls where I got to talk with the coaches individually, and also a combine where a bunch of coaches, including McKendree’s, presented to a group of athletes.”
One thing Bishop said will help when he goes to college is the presence of a teammate and his best friend who also is committing to McKendree.
“A mix of emotions comes and goes,” Bishop said. “One moment I'll be thinking about how much I am gonna enjoy it there, and the next, I think about how I will basically be living on my own 13 hours away from home.”
“It's going to take some getting used to, but I think I truly am going to enjoy it.”
Other items that may interest you
We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.