D1 or Done: High School Athletes Decide The Future of Their Sport 

By J1 Reporter Hannah Cusick

    Many high school student athletes have a tough decision to make; continue their sports career in college or say goodbye to their beloved sport? Making this decision is hard for athletes because most who consider playing a college sport have been playing that sport for years on end. They don’t want to give up the sport they’ve loved for years, but playing a college sport is a big commitment.

 Juniors Amanda Loschen and Amanda Draper both had to face this difficult process this year, debating if they should continue their volleyball career in college. 

    Loschen started playing volleyball when she was 10 for St. Pius and started club volleyball, at Nebraska Elite Volleyball, when she was 12. Loschen started playing volleyball as a middle blocker because she was inspired by her older sister’s love for the sport. Her love for volleyball quickly grew because she simply loved playing it.

 Loschen said she loves volleyball because of the competitiveness and it gives her an “out to life”. She loves playing because she’s only focused on what’s on the court and she doesn’t have to worry about anything outside of volleyball. The sport has also given her many of her best friends today and opportunities to travel and create lifelong memories. 

    Loschen has always seen herself playing college volleyball, but started to seriously think about it when she was 15. Her sister plays college volleyball at the University of South Dakota, so she knew what it looked like and was familiar to her. She started the process committing after her sophomore year of high school; the week of June 15, 2021 was the first week she was officially allowed to talk with college coaches because of the implicated recruiting rules. 

Photo Illustration of Amanda Draper and Amanda Loschen By Hannah Cusick

 That week she was very overwhelmed with starting the process of committing and the several calls with coaches she had. The whole process was stressful and  “put a lot of pressure on me to make decisions and play well”.

Luckily, Loschen had the help of her coaches and parents during the process. Her coaches helped get her name out there by posting videos to Huddl for colleges to view. They gave her emotional support and encouragement. Loschen felt that if she ever needed their support or advice, they would be there for her. Her parents were also very supportive and helped her stay on track throughout all the stress added. 

This October, Loschen ultimately decided to commit to the University of South Dakota in Vermillion for volleyball because it pays for her college tuition and she couldn’t give up her love for the game. She wanted to look into USD since her sister played there and had a great experience. Loschen chose to commit to USD because she loved the coaches, the program, and the distance was perfect for her, away from home but still only two hours away. 

    At 8 years old, Draper started her volleyball career, also inspired by her older sister and her friends who started playing as well. As a defensive player, Draper started playing club at Nebraska Elite Volleyball at 10. Draper has played other sports like basketball, soccer and tennis, but stuck with volleyball because she felt she was best at it and she got to play with some of her best friends. She said she loves the sport because it’s brought her some of her closest friends and she feels volleyball has made her a better person. 

    Although Draper always knew she wasn’t going to play in college, this year she debated it. She mostly considered the idea because her coach and mom put it in her head that she needed to, but she knew she truly didn’t want to. She uploaded a few highlight reels but never contacted any colleges because she wasn’t fully committed to the idea. When it came down to it, Draper didn’t commit because she wanted to focus on academics and wanted her college life to be less stressful. 

    Draper knows that she made the right decision, but also feels she’ll regret it at first because it fulfilled her boredom. She will miss volleyball because she loved the feeling of competing and her volleyball friends. Although she won’t be playing for a school or club, Draper anticipates she will play recreational beach volleyball and potentially coach younger girls. 

    Many athletes, like Draper, know it’s best to not play their sport in college, but want to keep it a part of their life. Despite the fact that they’re moving from their competitive days, athletes still keep the love for their sport close to them in many ways. Some athletes will still play at a recreational level. They could also keep the sport in their life through coaching or managing teams. Simply watching their sport and keeping up with teams can help athletes reminisce on their competitive days. Through these activities, athletes won’t have to worry about saying goodbye completely to their sport if college level isn’t ideal for them. 

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