Written by Kaelyn Spickler
The transition from being the top dog in your high school’s gym to being at the bottom of the totem pole as a freshman is tough. These athletes are used to breaking records for their high school and thriving off the crowd chanting their name. The first few weeks playing at the collegiate level is a wake-up call for many. All of the athletes are good at this level, which can either motivate or discourage players.
Several RC basketball players found this transition to be harder than expected. Finding the balance between playing collegiate basketball and taking college classes are among the reasons that led several freshmen to walk away from the sport, along with the intensity and level of commitment needed to be successful on a college basketball team. The team is still packed with young talent, and the five freshmen remaining on the team are adjusting and learning all while keeping a positive attitude.
Some of the key differences between high school and college sports is the time commitment and the intensity.
“It’s different because you can practice around your class schedule or have individual workouts with you during the day, so you always have to be ready to go into the gym. You also have to be able to get to your classes when you’re supposed to, and do all of your homework,” freshman guard Tripp Greene said. It’s important to stay on top of practice times and due dates for homework assignments because in college, obligations pile up quickly.
“It’s the next level, and if you’re not ready for it, it will catch you off guard because it is harder than high school. You have to put more time into it, and be more mature about it,” freshman guard Nick Price said.
The freshmen haven’t been thrown into the deep end of the pool to fend for themselves, however. Due to encouraging teammates and a knowledgeable staff, the freshmen are adjusting well.
“It’s been a smooth adjustment. The older guys on the team and the coaching staff have definitely helped me come in and figure stuff out because there are some learning curves, but I feel like it’s gone swimmingly so far,” freshman forward JP Corser said.
The three athletes agreed that all of their teammates help give advice or show them what they did wrong. “[Junior] Joe Mikalauskas and [sophomore] Jeremy Littlejohn both play my position, and they basically have mentored me on things like how to swing the right way and nitpick me, in a good way, to show me how to be more effective at the position.”
Maintaining a positive and focused mindset is crucial for the players. It’s important to remember that everyone was once a freshman starting out on the basketball team, and everyone has been in their shoes.
“Be positive and attack it with a positive mentality because obviously you aren’t going to do everything right, so you can’t get too down on yourself,” Corser said. Additionally, practice must be taken seriously. The players need to be ready to learn and put in the extra work to retain the information.
“I go in with a very focused mindset because we cover a lot of new things, especially as freshmen. We have to learn everything, and as long as you’re focused it carries over. It’s kind of like extra homework. You learn all of these new plays, and you have to go over them when you go back to your room or else you won’t be as prepared,” Greene said.
Playing a college sport is a commitment, and it’s important to honor that commitment and give it 110%.
“What keeps me playing is the love of the game and the fact that we made a commitment. I like to stick by that,” Price said. While maintaining their commitment, all three of these athletes hope to help the team as much as they can in order to secure the ODAC Championship. Simply put by Price, their goal is to “Win, have fun and play basketball.”