Nine Pirates will be continuing their athletic and academic careers at the college level. Pictured front row (L-R): Tristan Smith, Bobby Perez, Katie Kocher and Aaron Blossey; back row (L-R): Mason Wilhelmy, Michael Poe, Ryan McCrone, Madison Connelly and Hallie McCue. (West Life photo by Stefanie Kilnapp)
By Stefanie Kilnapp
Rocky River High School had its college letter of intent signing ceremony on Friday, hosting nine seniors who signed off to colleges to play lacrosse, basketball, soccer, swim and run cross country and track.
The students worked hard to meet the collegiate level of athletics.
“I know I can do it, I just need to put in the time,” said Hallie McCue, who will be swimming at Duquesne University.
“I think that I have the knowledge to be able to keep up, but I need to learn more about the game,” said Katie Kocher, who has been playing Lacrosse for a year and will move on to play at Baldwin Wallace University.
“I think I’ll do pretty well; it’s definitely going to take some time to get up to the pace of the sport, but I think after some of the season I’ll get up to normal speed,” Aaron Blossey said. “I think I’m going to need to get more athletic. I’ll need to run and lift more. Just get into overall better shape.”
Blossey will be attending Wittenberg to play Lacrosse. Also continuing their lacrosse careers will be Bobby Perez, Michael Poe, and Mason Wilhelmy.
Rocky River boys lacrosse head coach Steve Anderson has received a lot of credit for getting these students to the level at which they will be prepared to play with more advanced athletes.
“My coach Steve Anderson has been helping with recommendations,” Blossey said.
“Coach Anderson has really helped me mature as a player and grow,” Perez added. “Playing for him since I was a freshman has been a gift.”
“My parents helped a lot,” Poe said. “Past coaches and current coaches, and then people who played on my team are also going (to Mercyhurst), helped me make my decision.”
Each and every student-athlete acknowledged the parental and family oriented role in their success, especially Tristan Smith, who will be playing soccer at Shawnee State University.
“My parents helped me a lot, my brother, my dad taking me to soccer practices from the time I was 4 years old all the way up to now, pushing me to be better, taking me to tournaments, extra training on the side, and my brother teaching me in the backyard teaching me everything he knows,” Smith said. “I’m really looking forward to attend Shawnee, being able to compete and do well.”
“My dad always has me on the grind every day,” Wilhelmy chuckled.
Wilhelmy will also be attending Baldwin Wallace to pursue a career in criminal justice.
“I think I’ll be the perfect fit for a student-athlete (at BW),” he said. “There is no place I’d rather be.”
The most popular choice of degree among these seniors was business; other choices included nursing, athletic training, biology, video game design and sports management.
“Its called student-athlete for a reason,” Perez said. “It’s one of those things where sports came second and (Endicott College) was, by far, my number one choice just for the academics and the school standpoint.”
These seniors are not only looking for an extended sports career, but they put a necessary emphasis on the education and degree they will be earning.
Madison Connelly, who has been running cross country and track for six years, will be getting her start in biology, on the pre-med track at the University of Pennsylvania.
“I definitely was looking for a school that put an emphasis on academics as well as the athletics,” she said. “When I went on my various official visits, I loved the atmosphere, I loved the people, I loved the coaches, and obviously it is a school with academic rigor, so it was the perfect school for me.”
“Obviously academics come first, but I think athletics will help me with time management,” McCue said.
Rocky River High School has guided these student athletes well, but they admit that they’re ready to move on for a new experience.
“I’m really excited,” Perez said. “I love River, but I think I’m ready to move on and have a new experience so we’ll see how it goes.”
Ryan McCrone will continue his stellar basketball career at Ohio Weslyan University.