By Mary Dickson
According to College Scholarships USA, the hunger for talented international soccer players is enormous. And nationally, there must be a need too, which might explain why so many of this year’s AHS senior soccer players have been signed with colleges for athletic scholarships. EN sat down with a few of these students to find out more about what goes into the world of scholarships.
By beginning her soccer career around age three, Holly Ohradzansky has developed into a gifted women’s soccer player. Her freshman year, she was on a regional team called ODP (Olympic Development Program) and qualified for the Under 15 National Team through a series of camps that aid athletes in enriching their soccer skills. This ranking and reputation led her to believe she “had a knack for soccer,” and from that point on, she said she devoted all four years of her high school soccer career trying to attract colleges’ attention. Holly was discovered by The University of Akron, where she will play on their varsity women’s soccer team, but the dollar amount of this scholarship is not determined yet.
Holly Kraus chose to sign with Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia. She said she chose this college largely because she was told she was the “number one recruit,” which meant, according to Holly, that she would have the “best chance starting as a freshman.” By accepting this scholarship, Holly agreed to receive “$33,000 off a year–$11,000 from athletics and $22,000 from academics.” The yearly tuition at Wheeling Jesuit is $35,030. Holly signed a four-year contract of play, so because of her scholarships, she will be excluded from $132,000 of her total college tuition.
FirstPointUSA.com, an on-line website that gives information to athletes about sport’s scholarships wrote that getting a “sports scholarship, to an American university can cover many, sometimes all, of the costs associated with earning a university degree.” To maintain this scholarship, the athlete must play for the university’s sports team while maintaining “a good level of academic performance.” Brittanie Fowler is expected to keep her GPA up and stay out of legal trouble if she wishes to keep her softball scholarship, which covers 100 percent of her costs: “books, food, tuition, housing,” and basically any other costs associated with her education will be covered by her scholarship money. Brittanie has been working towards this “full ride,” as many students call it, ever since she began competitive softball. Brittanie explained that, “[her] main focus, other than having fun [in high school], was working towards getting [her college fees] paid for.” She set high expectations for herself while playing in “exposure tournaments” throughout the country where she hoped coaches would notice her talents.How was Holly Kraus found by Wheeling Jesuit University for her scholarship? Holly advocated for herself by making a player profile, which is a document that holds information like past achievements, teams played on, coaches, height and weight, etc. She also made a point to attend a large number of “showcases and college combines, [which] are small soccer tournaments where [one is] randomly placed onto teams with people [one has] more than likely never played with in [his or her] life.” Holly posted her player profile on the websites and she signed up for these tournaments where coaches attend and watch for players that show more talent than others.
Holly went even further and also contacted several college coaches through email and telephone, where she would inform them of how interested she was in their program. This past summer, Holly played at the Strongsville Showcase, where the goal-keeper coach from Wheeling, Tyler Absolam, became interested in her performance. According to Holly, he contacted her the next day because Wheeling was in need of a new goalkeeper. Holly was only able to contact Absolam via email or phone once a week due to NCAA rules, but now that she has signed with Wheeling Jesuit University, she “can talk everyday on the phone or [even] text…” her new coach.
Sydney Simpson was also discovered by Ohio Dominican University due to her out-of-school soccer performance. Sydney said to get as good as she could in soccer, she worked hard throughout each of her practices, and tournaments. Her efforts paid off when coaches recognized Sydney’s talents. She has signed to Ohio Dominican University for four years where 50% of her total college cost will be paid. While at the university, Sydney will have practice everyday after class and will play in Friday and Sundays games.Ryan Repas, credits his scholarship to fellow soccer player Ryan Poyle. Poyle had sent film of himself to several different colleges in hopes of winning their recognition. According to Repas, Findlay’s coaches attended one of Avon’s soccer games to watch Poyle play, but while watching, they became interested in Repas’s play, as well. Neither of these two players said that they were particularly focused that day on the scholarship they might be getting. Instead, they said that they were focused on the success of their team. This Avon Varsity Boy’s Soccer team eventually went on to be fourth in the state.
Their successes on the field stirred up a fight for their talents. Multiple schools offered both boys scholarships. Poyle and Repas had to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives at that point. Repas narrowed his decision down to Findlay, Northern Kentucky, Michigan, and Akron; Poyle chose between Findlay and Dayton. Coincidentally, Repas and Poyle both chose to attend the University of Findlay. Poyle ended up getting “a little over half” of his tuition paid, and Repas is paying only $19,000 of the total $37,000 tuition due to both athletic and academic scholarships.
While choosing a college, scholarship recipient, Kaitlin Patterson, made sure that she was major-focused. The most important factors affecting Kaitlin’s college decision according the her were “location and a good pre-pharmacy program” that was affordable since her course of study would last six years. In addition, she said distance was a priority. She was interested in a school under three hours away from Avon.
Colleges began recruiting Kaitlin at the start of her junior year, but these colleges did not offer the major she was interested in; several more D3 (Division 3) schools continued the offers at the beginning of her senior year, but they also did not hold the pre-pharmacy major. This past November, the University of Findlay offered her a scholarship, but while waiting to make sure she had been accepted into their pharmacy program, Kaitlin received an offer from Edinboro University that was “better financially and had the same academic program [offerings].” Thus, after being offered scholarships from Edinboro University, University of Findlay, University of Buffalo, and Duquesne University, Kaitlin signed with Edinboro University near Erie, Pennsylvania.
In addition to monetary aide, these athletes will have priority scheduling. This setup allows the players to schedule their classes before any other student to allow them more flexibility for games and practice.
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