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The Current

Small school athletes commit to college sports

Senior Bella Thornbury is one of the few students who has been invited to join a college sports team. Photo by Sara Tate

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), six percent of all high school seniors commit to a college to play a sport competitively, and Seniors Sarah Aanenson and Tre Maronic have been added to that percentage. 

Maronic will be attending Western Illinois University, a Division I school, for Football, on a full-ride scholarship. Aanenson will be attending the University of Colorado, Boulder for Track and Field.

“I committed to Western Illinois because it is a great program,” said Maronic.  “[It is] giving me the opportunity to play at the Division I level and go to college for free.”

“I committed there because of the amazing coach and team,” said Aanenson. “… [T]he opportunity to push [me] by training with amazing athletes.”

Athletic Director Scott Savoie expressed his excitement for these athletes.

“It’s great to see our athletes being selected on the national stage,” said Coach Savoie. “Earning a Division I scholarship is a big deal.” 

Not all athletes at Bear River have committed to a college but have been offered different opportunities to play for them, like Senior Volleyball player Bella Thornbury. 

“I’ve gotten offers from over a dozen schools spanning multiple states,” said Thornbury. “I’m most seriously considering playing at the University of Redlands, UC Merced, UC Santa Cruz, or Sonoma State.” 

These athletes went through a taxing process before actually locking in their decision.  

“I narrowed my colleges down from 10 to 5 to 2,” said Maronic. “My final decision between Wyoming and Western was the hardest decision of my life, but I feel like I made the right decision.”

Aanenson had a similar feeling to Maronic when it came down to deciding on a college. 

“It was an exhausting and stressful recruiting process to go through,” she said. “[B]ut after I visited Colorado and met the coach I knew it was the place for me.”

Coach Savoie explained what it takes to play a sport for a college.

“Playing at any level in college is very prestigious and involves a huge commitment on the part of the athlete,” he said. “The number one quality in making it at the college level is perseverance.”

Thornbury elaborated on the importance of committing to a college.

“Committing to a college is important because it prepares both your future and the future of that school’s athletic program,” she said. “If anyone wants to play sports in college then I advise that they reach out to schools themselves because…  you likely won’t be contacted by a school that is your first choice or even your top 5 [choices]. I would also advise that you pick a school that has more positives to it than just the opportunity to participate in sports. Make sure you like the environment, that they have your program of choice, and that you’ll be getting a good education.”

According to Coach Savoie, these athletes have to sign a legally bound letter, not just a verbal agreement to their schools.

“Colleges only have so many scholarships to give out,” said Coach Savoie. “Sarah and Tre did more than just verbally commit – they signed a Letter of Intent. A Letter of Intent is a binding contract between the athlete and the college.  [It’s] kind of like a promise, but bigger than that. They are legally bound.”

Even with the legality involved, these athletes feel ready to go to play for their college.

“I’m looking forward to moving onto the next chapter of my life,” said Maronic. “I’m so glad I get to play the sport I love while getting my degree.”

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Small school athletes commit to college sports