College-bound athletes commit to schools, look forward to playing at new levels of competition
Written By: Annie Tran, Catalina Zhao, Lydia Zhang, Misheel Enkhbat, Mitch Donat, Rebecca Alger, Wonhee Park, Yan Jia, Yilin Liang
Photos by: Wendy Qiu
Allison Doerpinghaus Volleyball
Senior Allison Doerpinghaus committed to Eastern Washington University (EWU) for volleyball last April, after turning down offers from University of Portland and South Dakota University. “Of course getting a good education was number one on my list, but my other ‘number one’ was school spirit, which they seem to have a lot of,” Doerpinghaus said. “All of the sport teams really support the others sports as well.” She verbally committed to EWU, but her spot on the team was finalized on Nov. 9, National Letter of Intent Day.
Although she started playing volleyball because people said her above-average height would be advantageous, Doerpinghaus became more passionate when she found that volleyball stresses both the individual and the team. “The camaraderie and the bond you form with your teammates is unlike anything else,” she said.
After college, Doerphingaus plans to coach volleyball to inspire other athletes to achieve their volleyball goals after college. “I’ve had a few coaches in the past that have really gotten me excited about the possibility of coaching, and now I know that it’s something I most definitely want to do,” Doerpinghaus said.
Despite the challenges ahead, Doerpinghaus knows that she will be sucessful. “I realize that I have a lot of work to do to play competitively at the next lev
el, but I’m looking forward to the challenge and believe I can definitely help my team both on and off the court prepare to succeed,” she said.
Laura Hayward: Soccer
Senior Laura Hayward has committed to Claremont McKenna College for soccer. She chose this school because of its academics, location and strong soccer team.
Having played soccer competitively since kindergarten and participated in a California Youth Soccer Association team since fourth grade, Hayward loves the aggressiveness and physical talent soccer requires and is looking forward to utilizing these components after high school. “I also love the fact that [soccer] is a team sport and that it’s a team’s chemistry that makes a winning team,” Hayward wrote in an email. “Some of my longest friendships have come from my soccer teams.”
Going into college, Hayward hopes to contribute to the defense of her future team. “I most likely will start as an outside back, but hopefully by senior year I will become a middle defender,” Hayward wrote. “As a middle defender, I hope to become a leader on the team.” She also looks forward to meeting new people and getting to know a different place. “Hopefully, I will continue to love school even more through college,” Hayward wrote.
Although she is uncertain of plans for after college, Hayward hopes that going to college will help her decide her future. “I most likely will find a career that involves children and most likely I will go to graduate school,” Hayward wrote. “I do not plan on becoming a professional player, but it would be fun to play in intramural leagues after college.”
Cat Perez: Basketball
Perhaps one of the most important questions for every serious athlete is to ask herself whether or not she sees herself playing the sport in the future. For senior Cat Perez, the answer was an easy yes, so for the upcoming year, Perez has committed to playing basketball for Seattle University.
This decision was made after extensive travel and communication with coaches from different schools. “If I got a call from a coach, we would talk anywhere from five minutes to an hour just about me and my life,” Perez said. “ If the relationship kept building, they could have me either talk to their head coach, or they would invite me for an official visit. You are only allowed to take five official visits.” In the end, Perez narrowed down her choices to University of New Mexico and Seattle University.
Although the process of committing to a college can be tiresome for both the athlete and her family, “my parents and friends are very supportive,” Perez said. “I think that everyone is glad that the whole process is done. I missed a lot of time hanging out with my friends during the first few months of school because I would be gone weekend after weekend. And when I got back, I would be overloaded with stress from all the homework piling up.”
However, in the end, Perez is glad that she accomplished her goals. “It was stressful at times, but I am glad to say that I went through it,” she said. “It does feel good to accomplish a goal that I have had since I was about 5 years old.”
Keenan Venuti: Football
You may know him specifically as Harvard, but read between the lines and you may find his actual name, Keenan Venuti. Although Venuti is great at both football and basketball, he chose to chase his dream of playing football at Harvard University. Keenan has been playing since his sophomore year, when his coach gave him the inspiration to play after high school. “My coach told me I had the potential to play Division I football,” Venuti said, “and that if I worked hard, I would be in a good position.”
Since he began playing, Venuti has developed an intense passion for the game. “I love the competitive nature and physicality of the sport,” Venuti said. “I have also found football to be an emotional a
nd physical release from anxiety and anger.”
When Venuti began the recruiting process, he didn’t receive letters just from Harvard’s Crimson Tide. “My first offer was to the Air Force as their defensive end,” Venuti said. “I went to five football camps last summer, and after Harvard’s camp, I received an offer from them.” After making the tough choice of attending Harvard, Venuti committed to playing his hardest this upcoming fall. “When attending Harvard I will try my hardest to make the varsity team,” Venuti said. After college, Venuti will keep playing in whatever way he can. “It would be a dream to play football in the National Football League, and I will try my hardest to attain that dream,” Venuti said.
Jake Verhulp: Baseball
Having played baseball since age three, senior Jake Verhulp has been given the opportunity to continue his passion for baseball. Verhulp was scouted by Xavier University and Bellarmine University (BU), and has chosen to play for BU.
Though the baseball team at Xavier is in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Verhulp chose BU, a college in Division II of the NCAA. “Xavier was a great [Division I] opportunity, but in the end, I went with Bellarmine because they were offering me more scholarship money, I liked the campus a little better [and] I really liked the head coach,” Verhulp said. “I’m really excited to play for Coach Tyner because he is a really great baseball guy. And since I’m on scholarship, it’s like I’m being paid to have all of these opportunities.”
Verhulp is looking forward to his time at BU. “When I went on my recruiting trip to the campus, the campus felt right and the thought of spending four years playing baseball there made me happy,” he said.
According to Verhulp, playing on the BU team has another benefit. “I have an opportunity to potentially start in the outfield as a freshman and get more playing time earlier in my college career,” he said. “Bellarmine is very good Division II team, so I [could] play in the Division II College World Series, which is really exciting. If we made it to the [Division II] World Series, I would be playing in front of thousands of people in Cary, North Carolina, and who wouldn’t want that?”
Rachel Acker: Swimming
Senior Rachel Acker has been swimming since she was seven years old, but did not begin to seriously pursue the sport until high school.
As a freshman, she began swimming for her club team, Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics (PASA) and since then, Acker has gone on to earn many accolades for her swimming.
According to Acker, after she attended the Winter Junior Nationals for swimming during her junior year, many coaches from various colleges contacted her. “The recruiting process was really enjoyable,” she said. “Each college team and college coach is different, so there is a lot to think about and weigh.”
In the end, Acker decided to pick the University of California, Berkeley. “I picked Berkeley mainly for the people,” she said. “I absolutely love the coaches and the team. I finally decided that I wanted to swim at the highest level I could, and Berkeley is now the number one school in the country. I [also] wanted to be surrounded by not only students who share my drive and my passion for swimming, but who are also focused on academics. I think Berkeley balances the two very well.”
Acker is most looking forward to swimming relays at Berkeley. “Club swimming is a team, but at the end of the day it is really an individual sport,” she said. “High school swimming is definitely more of a team sport, but college swimming is much more intense.”
After college, Acker may continue to pursue swimming. “The 2016 Olympic Trials are in June right after I graduate, so I am definitely hoping to qualify again and stay during the summer to train for that meet, but I am still not sure whether or not I will keep training at such a competitive level after that,” she said. “At some level, I am sure I will always keep swimming and dancing, too, in my life as activities to stay healthy.”
Julia Ama: Swimming
Senior Julia Ama has been winning all over the world as a competitive swimmer. She started competing at age nine and has been honing her talent and techniques since then with her club team PASA, so it comes as no surprise that several coaches from highly ranked United States college swim teams have been vying for her swimming talents.
When considering the recruitment process, Ama looked for many elements that would cultivate the ultimate college experience for her as a student as well as an athlete. “Athletics-wise, I am looking forward to a new team and experience,” she said. “College swimming is definitely different from club swimming, but that’s the exciting part.”
In early fall of 2011, Ama decided to commit to Stanford University. “[Stanford] is obviously known as a great school,” she said. “But I didn’t choose it just for the reputation but rather because I think it best suited me. There were definitely a variety of reasons that came into play, but mainly [it was] because Stanford has a great balance of stellar academics and athletics.” As of now, she is currently training to compete in the 2016 Olympics, and will be attending Olympic trials for Brazil later this year.
Elizabeth Anderson: Water Polo
Senior Elizabeth Anderson decided to attend Santa Clara University (SCU) for water polo, a decision that resulted from a long recruitment process.
Anderson’s water polo career, which started in May 2007 and spans almost six years, began because of her two older sisters’ involvement in the sport. Now she plays for the Gunn water polo team, the Stanford Water Polo Club, the Youth National Training Team and the Olympic Development Program. Her versatility and talent have won her numerous awards, ranging from Most Valuable Player to Santa Clara Valley Athletic League “Player of the Year.”
Signing the National Letter of Intent and committing to SCU was an extremely tough decision for Anderson. “I had a lot of great options,” she said. “It took a lot of pros and cons lists for me to realize that Santa Clara was the right school for me.” The main reason for her conclusion was the university’s lifestyle and team. “Santa Clara offers the perfect balance of academics, athletics, and social life,” she said. “I love the team, and it was easy to envision myself there next year.”
Above all, Anderson credits her dream of playing water polo in college as a key contributor in her decision. “It helps me stay motivated and drives me to work hard and improve every day,” she said.
After all her hard work, Anderson looks forward to her future collegiate career. “I’m excited to play with the Santa Clara team at a high level and improve to be the best player I can be,” she said.
Paul Blanchette: Soccer
Senior Paul Blanchette has signed with Loyola Marymount University for soccer. “[The] location, coaches, size of the school and the style of learning [at Loyola was better for me],” Blanchette said.
Blanchette considered all aspects of the school before finalizing his decision, but his connection with the Loyola coaches played a large part in choosing his college. “I really got along with the coaches and the other players [at Loyola’s soccer team], and that was important to me,” Blanchette said. His admission to Loyola was finalized on Feb. 1.
Blanchette started playing soccer when he was a toddler, but his passion and commitment to playing soccer professionally emerged at the age of 13. Soccer is one of Blanchette’s top issues of importance. “Since I love soccer, it makes it easy for it to be one of my top priorities along with my family, friends and education,” Blanchette said.
Blanchette hopes to play soccer professionally in the future and eventually become a coach. Blanchette is excited to set himself in a new atmosphere and balance college along with professional soccer. “I love the sport and the life that comes with it,” Blanchette said.