Seniors bring sports from childhood to adulthood

Every year, over eight million students play at least one high school sport according to the NCAA. Yet, only seven percent of high school athletes compete at the varsity level in college.

As soccer captain Cooper Bollinger-Danielson described, the main factor that drives students to continue with their sport isn’t the status of playing at the varsity level, but their love for the game. “It’s a game that I’ve been playing for my whole life, and the friends that you make are so valuable,” he said.
Bollinger Danielson received a full-ride scholarship to play soccer at Claremont McKenna College and hopes to form new relationships with his future teammates. “Especially this high school season, I realized that my closest friends are on the soccer team. I want to have that going forward in my college career,” he said.

Across the country, senior Alexandra Cardwell will be rowing at Columbia University. She first got into the sport because of her family, and since then she’s never looked back. “Watching [my brother] row at one of his regattas was the first time I had seen it in person. I had never seen anything like it before and I started rowing shortly after that,” she said.

Like Bollinger Danielson, Cardwell also appreciates the team environment and relationships she’s built over her years as a rower. However, the competitiveness of the sport drove her to take her skill to the next level.

Senior Nikola Barkwell will also compete at the varsity level, but in a lesser-known sport: waterskiing. Regardless, she still finds the same passion for her sport. Barkwell will be attending Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University.

Waterskiing offered an opportunity for fiercer competition. “I ski for the Canadian national development team, and there were more options to play at a higher level,” she said.

Despite the competitiveness of varsity college sports, there are still plenty of opportunities for student-athletes to pursue their athletic endeavors in college. In fact, over 28.1% of college-enrolled students participate in either club or intramural sports according to the NIRSA foundation.

I realized that my closest friends are on the soccer team.

— Cooper Bollinger-Danielson

Senior Simon Assefa will be majoring in Biology at Tufts University. Although he wasn’t recruited, he hopes to continue with the sports he played in high school. Assefa was the captain of the basketball team and also played soccer and ultimate. Each sport taught him different skills that he hopes to develop in college. “For soccer, you get to work on your foot skills; for basketball, you get to work on your intangibles like jumping and lateral quickness. I mainly do ultimate because it’s good for your fitness and it’s fun,” he said.

Like the athletes who will be playing at the varsity level, Assefa hopes to connect with new people and bridge diverse friendships. “[Sports] are a great way to meet people, especially in college when there are around 13,000 [undergrads],” he said.