Athletes score special college scholarships

Freshman Patty Ohanian poses with softball players from the University of Illinois.

photo courtesy of Patty Ohanian

Freshman Patty Ohanian poses with softball players from the University of Illinois.

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While playing in the pros or going to college on an athletic scholarship is a pipe dream for most student-athletes, each year a handful of Bruins get such a chance, and that chance could turn them into household names, like Mia Hamm, or garner them medals at the Olympics, like Allen Johnson and Ed Moses. But it doesn’t come easy.

Across the nation, college scouts begin checking out prospects from their freshman year of high school on. The majority of athletes start out on the freshman level and work their way up to JV or varsity by the end of their career, which colleges look at when deciding on their future athletes.

“I started on a house team when I was 6, then I moved up to a select team when I was 8,” freshman Patty Ohanian said. “From then I moved onto a Premier Girls Fastpitch team, the Vienna Stars, and I fell in love with the game.”

Ohanian plans on playing softball for LB in the spring, and she’s verbally committed to the University of Illinois.

When scholarship athletes begin prepping for college sports, they get a lot of support from friends, family and coaches to help with all of the details and the process of being recruited.

“My dad has helped me with the recruiting process, and my coaches have helped me with improving my skills and getting my name out there,” junior football player A.J. Alexander said.

Alexander hasn’t decided on what college he will attend, but he is looking at UVA, Auburn, Towson and Penn State, he said. They are looking at him for a football scholarship.

Senior Kacy Decatur plays varsity soccer for the school, as well as travel, and is planning on attending Christopher Newport University in the fall, where there is a possibility she’ll play club soccer.

Potential college recruits know that if they want to make it to the next level, they have to be willing to make sacrifices and train diligently outside of regular school practices.

“I lift five days a week,” senior Jack Owens said. “I also hit five days a week and throw long toss on the field. I eat a lot of protein [to train] too.”

Owens is one athlete who understands what it means to dedicate himself to a sport. A member of the varsity baseball team since freshman year, he has received a scholarship to East Carolina University next year for baseball, and he will take some of the lessons he learned in high school with him.

“Practice hard,” Owens said. “The more you play, the better you get; it pays off in the long run.”

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