Spring Edition: Seniors commit to their school for collegiate sports

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Quinn Berry

Senior Lauren Beard finishes her last lap at a swim meet. Beard plans to continue swimming at the collegiate level. “It’s such an escape from life’s craziness,” Beard said. “It allows me to take a step back and get out all of the anger and frustration I have built up. The community is so supportive and it’s like a second family.”

Tia Reed-Basketball

Senior Tia Reed couldn’t imagine the idea of playing collegiate basketball, but that changed when she began to hear offers from Missouri Baptist University, Lyon College, Fontbonne University and Fisk University during her high school career.

Senior Tia Reed boxes out her opponent to get the rebound.

“[I never] really believed [I could play basketball in college] because I thought it was for the best of the best, but I realized that there are so many schools that aren’t just NCAA Division 1 that are accepting people to play sports for their school,” Reed said. 

Reed details the process of how college scouts recruited her.

“In the beginning of my college process I was already considering Missouri Baptist without the option of playing basketball. After getting accepted, I got a text from the Missouri Baptist coach inviting me to join their team,” Reed said. “Since I was already accepted into the school it was easier for me to commit. To get in contact with some schools, I had to fill out a recruiting form that gave the coaches my information and some found out about me through other coaches and watching me at games.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it narrowed Reed’s options which eventually led her to commit to Missouri Baptist University.

“I chose the college because I felt that the program was a good fit for me, meaning the coaches seemed like they would push me to get better, they are focused on academics as well as athletics, and the program has a family like environment,” Reed said. “I considered multiple other places, colleges that offered me to play basketball and colleges that didn’t. With COVID-19, I wasn’t able to visit all of my potential colleges and that played a major part in my decision.”

Reed spent her off-seasons training to perfect her craft.

“I did a lot of workouts over the summer and my coaches would always push me to get better,” Reed said. “I would go outside and shoot around, and I would go to the [girl’s basketball] summer camps. That’s what pretty much helped me to perform at a higher level than before.”

Maggie Brawley-Hockey

After taking skating lessons as a young girl, senior Maggie Brawley’s parents decided that it was only natural for her to play hockey. As a graduating senior, Brawley has stuck with the sport and plans to play in college.

Senior Maggie Brawley awaits the pass from her teammate.

“My dad played growing up and he also coached a lot and my older brother played before me. I had taken skating lessons, and my parents were like, ‘it only makes sense for her to play hockey’,” Brawley said. “The people on my team were all my friends at that point, and I had grown up with a lot of the kids, so it just made sense. I have tried other sports like volleyball, soccer and softball and I enjoyed them, but it wasn’t the same [as hockey].”

Most of the teams Brawley played for were overwhelmingly male and she notes that one of her biggest obstacles as a hockey player was spacial awareness. 

“Growing up it was mostly boys, and we were friends,” Brawley said. “I didn’t transfer to a girls team until I was in seventh grade. I guess when I was younger I wasn’t as aware of my surroundings [but] I pay more attention now because once you start playing with guys who are twice your size and twice your weight, you learn to pay attention a bit.”

Signing with Maryville University came as a surprise for Brawley in many ways.

“For a while, hockey wasn’t really on my radar to play in college, because I was like, ‘maybe it would be good for me if I just took a break’. I was looking at Maryville just for academics. Then one of my best friends signed with Maryville and I was like, ‘alright, I’m going to give it a try’. They were really the only team I wanted to play for. I reached out to them, [the coach] came to one of my games, and I guess he loved the way I played,” Brawley said. “It felt insane, because I didn’t feel like I was good enough. You never really think, ‘I can do that’. When you do, you’re like, ‘wow’. I did cry out of excitement. I was so excited and my parents were so excited.”

Brawley feels that the camaraderie with her teammates played a strong role in her love of the game, and created the memories that she will take with her as she moves onto college hockey.

“I have had such great coaches and teammates, especially in my time at Parkway West. I wouldn’t trade my time playing with those boys for anything. They are such great people. That is definitely what reinforced my love for the game, because I just had such a fun time. I got to be a captain this year, and that was just absolutely awesome.”

John Ransin-Swimming

As a kid, senior John Ransin found his love for swimming in a summer league, and has continued the sport all through his childhood and into his senior year. After touring Drury University, he jumped at the opportunity to sign with their swim team.

“I was really excited after going on multiple recruiting trips [because] I felt the most connected with Drury. It seemed to be a great fit for me and it really made me happy to sign with them,” Ransin said. “I really bonded with the team over the recruiting trip and it made me want to be there for college and swim. It seemed like the team that would help me greatly achieve my goals.”

Ransin’s senior swim season was full of setbacks.

“My senior season I struggled [with] starting off with a torn hip flexor and I was very sick throughout the season,” Ransin said. “Those obstacles held me back [and] I didn’t get the season I wanted, but I was able to push through and score for my team.”

Despite his difficult senior year, Ransin’s hope to sign did not waver. It was something he had wanted since freshman year. 

“I was always sure [I wanted to sign] because that was one of my goals since freshman year,” Ransin said. “If not, I would’ve continued swimming just out of love for the sport. The sport has taught me a lot and it’s made me a stronger, more determined person in general.I love racing and pushing my body to the limit. Swimming is one of the hardest sports I’ve ever played and it takes a lot to win it, [and] the constant drive for victory keeps you excited in the sport.”

Kelly Bowen-Soccer

Growing up in a family of soccer players gave senior Kelly Bowen the chance to start competitive soccer at the age of four.

“I got involved because my sister played soccer and my mom also played in college too so it was kind of forced onto me, but I ended up liking it,” Bowen said. “I think I had the motivation and competitive spirit that made me want to get better and perform well.”

Senior Kelly Bowen plants her feet next to the ball to pass to her teammate.

Bowen played her first two years on junior varsity, and with hard work, made the varsity soccer team junior and senior year.

“I had to improve on running and my strength and conditioning. I also had to make myself stand out in little ways like cheering on your teammates,” Bowen said. “It was honestly all about the little things. You could be a phenomenal player, but you had to have the right attitude and mindset.”

In order to stay close to home and play collegiate soccer, senior Kelly Bowen committed to Webster University.

“They have a pretty good journalism program and [soccer there] isn’t too serious, but it’s to keep my competitive streak going and still have fun at the same time,” Bowen said. “In the season, we’ll practice everyday, but when we’re out of season, it’s two or three times a week.”

Bowen received multiple offers from schools including Tampa University, Nova Southeastern University and Lipscomb University. 

“I wanted to stay close to home so that my family would still be able to attend my games,” Bowen said.

Clark Griffin-Water Polo

Following in his brother, alumnus Mitch Griffin’s footsteps, senior Clark Griffin is attending Lindenwood University to play Division I water polo. 

“They’ve won the national championship the past two years in a row,” Griffin said. “[I’m excited for] winning in general and being able to play with my brother again.”

Lindenwood University was not the only school Griffin was considering.

“I’ve played junior olympics and have met other coaches through that process, but the coach from Lindenwood was scouting me from freshman year so we’ve been in touch,” Griffin said.

Griffin is majoring in pre-med at Lindenwood and is excited for the new challenge of a collegiate level sport.

“It’s very intense and hard but the challenge is what makes it so fun,” Griffin said.

Lauren Beard-Swimming

After securing a state championship with her team, senior Lauren Beard is continuing her swimming career at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Beard was in contact with a number of Division I schools, but ultimately decided on the University of Illinois because it offered her desired major of atmospheric sciences.

“It’s a very finite major so finding the balance was a bit hard,” Beard said. “I had to find the right balance of my major and the swim program.”

Beard is excited to continue swimming because she views it as a way to relieve stress.

“It’s such an escape from life’s craziness,” Beard said. “It allows me to take a step back and get out all of the anger and frustration I have built up. The community is so supportive and it’s like a second family.”

Though she finished her senior season with an injury, Beard is grateful for her experience and her team.

“[I love] having a close relationship with the entire team and growing as an athlete,” Beard said.

Ana Lyons-Basketball

Hoping to attend a school with a good nursing program and an opportunity to play basketball, senior Ana Lyons committed to Coe College.

“I chose Coe because the team and coaches were really nice and welcoming and I saw myself fitting in,” Lyons said. “Also, their nursing program is one of the best in the nation with a lot of one-on-one attention.”

Lyons has been playing basketball since she was very young and is looking forward to continuing to play.

“I am most excited for having the opportunity to continue the sport I love playing ever since I was little,” Lyons said. “It’s also a way I get to make new friends easily and have close bonds. I’m excited for all the travels we will have as well.”

While looking for colleges, Lyons created her own recruiting profile.

“The recruiting process required a lot of time and patience,” Lyons said. “I was able to reach out to coaches or vise versa. Coe reached out to me and from there we scheduled a time for a call conference and a time to visit campus.”

Basketball allows Lyons to access her competitive edge and keeps her motivated to do her best.

“I really love basketball for the main reason that it’s super competitive,” Lyons said. “I love the hard work I put in and seeing a better player and being rewarded for the hard work. I don’t see myself without it and wanted to play as long as I could.”