College freshmen have adjusted to playing sports in college after graduating from Leesville. For the athletes it has been tough to not only make the transition to a new school but also have a more rigorous training schedule than in high school.
The odds of even continuing a high school sport into college are low: For example, about 6.4 percent of high school senior boys who play baseball for their school will continue to play in college, according to the NCAA.
The former Leesville students have experienced harder practices, but many say that they can not pick their favorite school to play at. Some athletes have been well prepared for the switch to athletics at the college level, and some have had to supplement their high school sport with other practices.
Charlsie Lincoln, who graduated in 2011, swims for East Carolina University. The difficulty level of the practices have definitely increased.
“Swimming for Leesville was nothing compared to ECU swimming just because it’s on an entirely different level,” said Lincoln via Facebook.
For Lincoln, swimming for Leesville alone did not completely prepare her for the college level.
“School swimming did not really prepare me for college athletics; year-round swimming definitely brought me to the level that I am at now,” Lincoln said.
Mrs. Izquierdo, coach of the Leesville swim team, believes that athletes who want to swim in college should swim year round, not just in high school.
“It seems to be the best combination for swimmers who’d like to swim in college to swim on a year-round team and their high school team. Swimming on their year round team gets them the large amounts of practice time in the water that they really need,” said Izquierdo via email.
But while practices at ECU have been harder, practices at Leesville were more fun.
“Leesville swimming gave me the perfect balance of having fun but getting work done as well,” said Lincoln.
Izquierdo also thinks that swimming for a high school team is a great experience.
“Swimming on their high school team gets them the feeling of school spirit and camaraderie, of building academic and athletic relationships with their peers, of state-wide multi-level competition, and of developing time management skills to balance a sport with academic success,” Izquierdo said.
“Although, swimming at ECU has its benefits too,” said Lincoln, “we get tons of free stuff, and everything we do is so team oriented because we all have the same schedules.”
Ryan Mulligan, freshman, plays baseball at Denison University. Compared to Leesville baseball practices, college ones have been much harder and more serious.
“The level of difficulty is much harder here; the practices are much longer and more intense,” said Mulligan via Facebook.
Yet playing baseball at Leesville helped prepare Mulligan for his college practices.
“Leesville was a great preparation for college; Coach Smothers did a great job of working us out hard during practice so that helped a lot coming into this year.”
Similar to Lincoln, Mulligan had a great time playing baseball for Leesville.
“High school baseball was a great experience for me; I loved playing it and I loved the team,” said Mulligan.
Stephanie Bronson, freshman who plays soccer at North Carolina State University, thinks the soccer practices at NC State are harder compared to the Leesville ones.
“Playing in college has definitely been more physical, especially being in the ACC,” said Bronson via Facebook.
For Bronson it was a big change playing soccer in college: “I went from being the oldest as a senior to a little freshman playing with girls almost twice my size”.
Like Lincoln, Bronson has formed a bond with the players on her team. Not only does she have classes with her teammates, she lives with them, travels with them, and stays in hotels with them.
Playing soccer at State takes commitment. The practices and games are mentally challenging, physically tough and time consuming.
“In college, playing a sport is your life,” said Bronson.
Yet the reward of playing a sport in college is worth the effort, time and hard work.
“I like playing in college because it feels like I have accomplished something that a lot of people wish they could have,” Bronson said.
Coach Dinkenor, coach of Leesville varsity soccer, commented on high school and college soccer programs. Varsity Soccer at Leesville has an outstanding reputation, with the girls winning three state championships in the last four years. So it is obviously a great foundation for playing soccer at the college level.
“The level at which we played in the last five years has been a good preparation for college soccer. In terms of technique and tactics, girls come out of the program very battle tested.”
Coach Dinkenor realizes the obstacle college athletes face. Not only do athletes have to adjust to life at college, which is entirely different from high school, they also devote a ton of time to their sports.
“Girls who have been successful in college, like Stephanie [Bronson], have been unbelievably mentally tough.”
These three athletes have all made a big adjustment going from high school sports to college sports. While their sports have been different, one thing is common between them: they all loved playing for Leesville and have enjoyed playing sports for their college. The hard work and effort that these student athletes have put in for many years has paid off, and they are reaping the benefits.