[May 2017] Scholar-athletes commit to four more years


By: Ben Pearl ’18
Less than two percent of all high school athletes make it to the Division I collegiate level, according to the NCAA. Despite these odds, Staples boasts 13 Division I athletes in the 2017 class: Zak Ahmad, Colleen Bannon, Gillian Birk, Ethan Burger, Ben Casparius, Ryan Fitton, Ivy Prince, Charlotte Rossi, Lydia Shaw, Robert Stone, Olivia Troy, Tanner Wood and Tia Zajec.
As these athletes transition to their new schools, they typically have a bittersweet feeling leaving the comfort and familiarity of their teammates, along with coaches that have surrounded them for the last four years.
“I’m going to miss representing Staples and putting on the uniform for the school, but I’ll always have memories from the past years and hopefully more this year,” Ben Casparius ’17, University of North Carolina commit, said.
Staples’ large number of commits does not do justice to the difficulty of attaining a college roster spot. The required training and athleticism is only half of the process of recruiting; academics also hold significant weight. Even after making it to college, athletes still have to balance academics and athletics.
According to the NCAA, Division I athletes must maintain at least a 1.8, 1.9 and 2.0 GPA over their first, second and subsequent years, respectively. Additionally, athletes must fulfill certain credit requirements based on their majors every semester. While these requirements are based off each university’s minimum, student-athletes have more to balance than a typical academic student.
Division I student-athletes spend between five and six hours playing their sport every day during their season, as stated in a study conducted by the University of North Carolina. These numbers vary depending on the school, however Ivy League athletics in particular have historically placed a larger focus on the academic side of student-athletics.
Earlier this year, Lydia Shaw ’17 committed to Yale University, the third ranked academic school by U.S. News.
In regard to Yale’s academic rigor ,“I’m a little nervous, but at the end of the day I have always had to find a balance between school and soccer, so it’s nothing I’m not already used to,” Shaw said.
Like Shaw, University of Connecticut football commit Ryan Fitton ’17 will also be continuing his athletic career in-state. Fitton has to leave Staples on June 10 to begin practices for next season and to get a jump start on classes. The transition from Staples to the UConn campus in Storrs is harder than the easy hour and a half drive makes it seem.
Ever since the Wreckers’ football season ended, the 6-foot-5 tight-end has been following a workout program crafted by the UConn strength and conditioning coach to prepare him for what Fitton called the “huge jump from high school.” While he has not yet physically stepped on the field with the Huskies, Fitton has watched multiple games and practices since announcing his commitment.
“A big change that I’ll go through on the college level is the intensity and speed of practices[…]; that’s a challenge I’m looking forward to,” Fitton said.
Aside from the challenges, college sports are often seen as an easy way to transition into a new school, as teammates are guaranteed friends, coaches are making sure you are performing well in the classroom and you have a consistent schedule for all four years.
“I am most excited for the team,” Colleen Bannon ’17, Lafayette College lacrosse commit, said. “I already know a few of the commits from my club team, and I know I’ll always be able to count on them, both on and off the field.”