Athletes sign to pursue athletic career
Much of the 2016 graduating class has already competed in their last game, match or meet. The sport that they fell in love with as a child and obsessed over every year since will soon be a part of their past. All of the memories with the team and hard practices that helped shape them into a better player will be remembered fondly, but most students’ athletic career will more or less end with high school.
For a few seniors, however, that sport allowed them to earn a spot in college. Girls lacrosse players such as Sara Stickler and Katie Lottsfeldt have signed with the NCAA to compete at Concordia. Senior Maddie Karr has also signed, committing to gymnastics at the University of Denver. Eddie Kiolbasa has yet to sign, but will be committing to University of North Dakota to run cross country and track.
NCAA has three signing days per school year, in the fall, winter and spring. The girls signed earlier on in the year, while Eddie Kiolbasa is the last to make his commitment to UND, signing on April 13. A top runner, Kiolbasa chose to continue his career in college and is looking forward to facing the challenge of racing against the very best runners.
“I wanted to compete in college because I love to run. I can’t imagine my life without running and I wanted to take it to the next level,” Kiolbasa said.
The procedure for signing is very specific, and the athletes are not permitted to sign their National Letter of Intent (the document that encloses the intended university and sport) until 7 a.m. of the signing day. Despite these rules, the signers vocalized this as a memorable experience and described their own excitement, as well as their parents’ and teammates’.
Stickler’s mom brought signs for her as well as Lottsfeldt and the girls took plenty of photos to commemorate the event and celebrate their achievements.
“It was exciting and it was kind of hard to believe until after, because so much was going on at one time,” Stickler said.
Concordia University, the future alma mater of Stickler and Lottsfeldt, is jumpstarting their lacrosse program this year. The girls will be members of the first Concordia Women’s lacrosse team, as well as the first division two team in the upper midwest, enabling them to lay the groundwork for future teams at the school and set the basis for athleticism on the team.
“At Concordia, this will be the inaugural season, so we will be the first ones there. Every time I step on the field I’ll break some kind of record,” Lottsfeldt said.
Traveling farther from home, Karr chose to continue her gymnastics career in Colorado. Gymnastics is a unique sport that progresses by level, until level 10. At this point, the gymnast chooses either to go for the olympics or to college and about one percent of gymnasts make it to this high of a level. Karr’s elite training schedule allowed her to excel to this level and lead her to the University of Denver, a positive choice for her sport and academic needs.
“I love competing and so it was easy for me to want to continue in college. That was the angle ever since I was little. I’ve always wanted to compete in the NCAA,” Karr said.
All the NCAA signers have high hopes for their college years, planning to achieve in both academics and athletics. They might be busy with games and meets, but their motivation will help them get through the tough wear and tear of the sport, along with the mental challenge that college entails. The athletes have proven their preparedness for all aspects of college and look forward to contributing to the success of their teams.
Kiolbasa said, “My hopes for college are to make a positive impact scoring points for the team. I hope to be all-conference in the Big Sky conference as a long term goal.”