Sophie Saunders

Staff Reporter

7 June, 2022

For many graduating seniors, this will be the last time they shoot a goal, score a touchdown, or cross the finish line, but for others, their determination and perseverance have allowed them to take their sport to an even higher level.

“The recognition, awards, medals, the the Regional championship we won. It feels good out on top,” said Korede Sogbesan who will be playing football at Monmouth University.

On both November 11th, 2021 and April 21st, 2022, 14 graduating seniors signed their National Letter of Intent to continue their athletic careers in college. This signing is their final step before they graduate and go to college.

Many of those who signed have been playing their sport for many years, so playing for four more isn’t a shock. Kendall Dean, a lacrosse player who committed to Princeton earlier this year has been playing since she was in third grade. Dean didn’t begin as the star player on the field. She began as any aspiring athlete does, by participating in a rec league. After she excelled in rec, she joined Heros Club, a well known team in Howard County and surrounding areas. By 7th grade she began taking the sport more seriously and decided that lacrosse was “the thing that [she] wanted to play in college.”

Dean, who is African American, stated that her biggest motivation other than loving the sport, was see-ing other Black girls and women play lacrosse. When looking back on this, she remembers watching the All American game which is when the best seniors from across the country, who are all going to the best division 1 schools, play lacrosse together. When she and her mom spotted Kayla Wood, they were shocked saying, “woah what the heck, there are really good girls who are also black, that was just crazy to me.” Dean wasn’t used to seeing other black girls playing lacrosse. Given that lacrosse is a predominantly white sport, Dean said that she often “stands out on the field.” She recalled that, “when I played rec I was the only black one on the team most of the time” and for many years her mom was usually the only black parent in the stands.

Korede Sogbesan, has had a goal since 8th grade that he “was going to play at the next level,” and given
that he will be arriving at Monmouth University this fall, his goal has been achieved. However, his football journey hasn’t been smooth sailing. During his sophomore year of high school, he had an ACL tear. Sogbesan describes this as “the most difficult time” in his football career. After this, “it took me awhile to bounce back but I ended up getting back into it.” The amazing football environment at Atholton only reassured his decision to want to play in college. He loved “being around others who had the same love for the game,” which “made me want to continue doing it with another group of people.”

Delaney Hammil, who will be attending East Tennessee State University to compete as a tri athlete isn’t just participating in one sport while in college, rather she will be doing three. When she was five, she started doing the kids’ triathlons and as she began getting more serious about being a tri athlete; at 13 she decided to join a competitive triathlon team. Although her foundation began earlier, she has been “swimming competitively since [she] was nine,” and ultimately picked up running at 16, when she joined both cross country and track Junior year. Ever since Hammil began getting very involved in sports, her parents have been her biggest supporters. She shared that her biggest impact on wanting to play a collegiate sport was both her parents and herself. Her parents, “always pushed [her] in [her] sports” and for herself she has “always had this goal” and after her many years of hard work she believes that it is finally paying off, by being able to compete in college.

For these athletic teens, their college experience won’t be a typical one, but neither was their high school experience. These athletes have dealt with the difficult balance of school and sports for many years. Hammil recalled this by saying, “everyone else could go home and take a nap, but I had practice everyday after school and some days I would have another practice, or work out on my own.” She shared that she has, “been doing this [her] whole life,” and that it “has always been homework,
sports, homework, sports.” Dean agrees by adding, “playing a sport in high school is difficult because you have practice everyday, then you have to go home and do homework, and some days you’ll even have games.” Sogbesan knows that playing in college will require “a lot of time and effort,” and he understands that it is still very time consuming. Although, he feels “pretty confident that [he] will be able to maintain it.”

Hammil, who will be competing as a triathlete in the fall believes that her countless hours of practicing “has taught [her] how to work hard and be the best version of herself.”

Posted by ssaunders

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