BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — With school sports being shut down or limited, student athletes found themselves searching for alternative ways to hone their skills, stay in shape, and get recruited. Many succeeded, often with the support of private gyms.
As the end of another school year approaches, we are celebrating all of 2021’s college recruits, including these five alumni who have worked out together at The Performance Lab and who have all committed to extend their athletic careers at Division I schools.
High School: U-High
Position: Infield, Outfield, and Pitcher
Committed College: University of Notre Dame
Most memorable high school sports career moment: When we first started the season my junior year before COVID-19 shut everything down, we went to Urban Warfare to go paintballing as a team. I think it was the most fun I’ve had being part of a team, a great experience. We had a special chemistry, but never got to show it off that year on the field.
COVID-related challenges: One of my biggest challenges as a student athlete during a global pandemic was managing my time for school, training, and staying as safe as I can. The switch to online learning in the spring of 2020 was a big routine shock. I had to change my routine completely, and not only that, but when you are doing your schoolwork in your room and you have all of these other distractions going on, you have to stay very disciplined to do your work.
High School: U-High
Position: Outfield & Pitcher
Committed College: ISU
Most memorable high school sports career moment: Regional championship at Bloomington.
COVID-related challenges: I stayed focused by working out with a group of people that push me every day.
Looking forward to college: I’m excited for the college season and I plan on working hard to get a starting spot.
High School: Normal West
Committed College: Northern Illinois University
Major: Biological Sciences
Most memorable high school sports career moment: Going on spring break trips with the softball team and becoming closer to my teammates.
COVID-related challenges: COVID took away an entire high school season for us, so trying to stay focused without feeling bad for myself was a challenge. I knew that I needed to be ready for whenever we could play again.
Looking forward to college: I am looking forward to competing for a spot on the field and meeting new people through school and softball.
High School: Normal Community
Position: Long Snapper
Committed College: Central Michigan University
Major: Sports Management
Most memorable high school sports career moment: Starting in my first varsity game against our cross-town rivals, Normal West, my junior year.
COVID-related challenges: My recruitment was very difficult throughout this past year, but what kept me going was the support I got from my family, friends, coaches, and trainers.
Looking forward to college: Playing at Central Michigan next year is a dream come true for me and it will be great to be playing against very good football players every single week.
High School: Normal West
Position: Defensive End
Committed College: Western Michigan University
Most memorable high school sports career moment: Getting my first ever touchdown.
COVID-related challenges: Some of my challenges were mainly around getting recruited during the pandemic. I was unable to go to camps, so I had to rely on coaches looking at stuff I was doing on my own. I spent countless hours working on my craft while recording it and after a long time, it finally started paying off.
Looking forward to college: I am excited about next year because I have the ability to earn playing time—at my position there are lots of subs. I’m also a little anxious or nervous to see how I line up against some of the best players I have ever seen. And it’s going to feel weird being the young guy again.
According to The Performance Lab owner Austin Curtis, “The common denominator in these five D1 athletes is that they do not take days off. They all practice their skills non-stop. They all choose to live a pretty strict schedule and lifestyle, which has contributed to their success—sacrificing their Fridays and Saturdays with friends to better their performance and skill sets, which will ultimately better them as college athletes and young adults.”
Congratulations to these athletes and to all of 2021’s athletes for persevering and playing their hearts out during this unusual season.
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