Playing in college is the dream scenario for young athletes. They’ve all played out the fantasy of being the next big Olympic star with Nike sponsorships and their picture on a cereal box.
A special group of MCHS athletes are blazing new paths and fulfilling their dreams by pursuing their sport in college. No matter the school, sport, or division, these athletes have become a role model for underclassmen at MCHS.
McHenry Athletics run in the family for some student athletes, such as Trevor Rockweiler, a baseball player. His father, Brian Rockweiler, is a PE teacher, assistant athletic director, and varsity baseball coach at MCHS. He claims that his four years in sports at MCHS demonstrated valuable lessons for him to take into college.
“McHenry sports taught me a lot, like how to compete and to work for something you want in life,” Trevor reflects, “I will miss McHenry sports but I will be a Warrior for life.”
Even though the athletes are moving on to college, many claim it won’t be the same as playing for MCHS.
“No matter the sport, playing for McHenry, wearing ‘Warriors’ across my chest, and getting to have fun with my friends is definitely something I will miss going into college next year,” explained Lauren Sena, a senior and soon to be softball player for Valparaiso University in Indiana. Getting to play with friends made high school sports even more enjoyable for Sena, and for a lot of athletes they were proud to be a MCHS athlete.
Freshman are often inspired by older athletes to join new sports in order to meet more people and find new activities.
“Sports are a great way to get involved with the school,” explained Gracie Gasmann, a basketball, football, and soccer player and soon to be soccer player for Beloit College. “It is an amazing experience and I highly encourage anyone who is thinking about joining a team to try it, at least for a season.” Many players, including Gasmann, have discovered some of their friends through sports.
MCHS athletics pride itself in having positive team relationships. Teammates lean on each other for support and push each other to be better athletes. Older players inspire the younger athletes to be like them in the sport.
“My senior captain from my freshman year Andrew Pilat has pushed me since my first practice to become better,” described Caleb Schopen, an MCHS track and cross country runner, “He has been my running mentor since day one and I pretty much go to him if I need help with anything.” Schopen will be running at Cornell College in the fall.
While some athletes look up to teammates, some are inspired by their siblings. “One person I looked up to was my older sister Sam because she was an athlete in college at the University of Kansas,” described Marissa Hanley, a basketball player of MCHS and soon to be athlete at Benedictine University, “and she said being a college athlete is something you’ll never forget.”
Having a sibling that can give advice can be very beneficial to an athlete undetermined, and they can describe the magic of being and becoming a college athlete and push you in the right direction.
Whether an athlete is attending a huge Division I school or a smaller, local school, postsecondary athletics are a dream come true. “Although I am attending a small Division III college,” explained Schopen, “being able to do athletics in college is a dream come true for me. I have very big ambitions so this is just the first step to achieving my goals and it feels amazing.”
When athletes achieve parts of their goal, Schopen says it can make all the practice feel worth it, and it can push them to achieve more of their goals.
Committing to athletics in college is one of the highest honors many athletes can receive. It is a demonstration of their skill, dedication, and achievements throughout their lives. Many 2021 MCHS graduates were given the opportunity to influence the younger classes and athletes in the community by continuing their sport into college, setting the bar high for future student athletes.