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JHS alumni athletes: What are they doing now?

Abby Mitchell, Staff Writer

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At Jacksonville High School, we praise our student athletes and look forward to what they will do next with the sport that they play. A lot of things change from high school sports to college sports whether the conference is DI, DII, DIII, NJCAA, or NAIA. This article features three of our very own past JHS athletes who went on to play their sport at the college level: Olivia Kaufmann, Gabe Megginson, and Mark Wilson.

Many students find it difficult to balance both school and sports at the same time. Western Illinois University freshman women’s basketball player and JHS alumni, Olivia Kaufmann, said, “When we really start to travel and miss lots of class, it gets stressful trying to stay up to date with what assignments are due so I just have to stay organized and know what to expect ahead of time.” It is really important for all collegiate athletes to keep up in class so that when it comes to testing time they can succeed in both school and athletics.

As well as schoolwork, these athletes also have to follow different workout plans. Mark Wilson is now playing soccer at Bradley University, and the fitness that he has to keep up is remarkable. Mark said, “The first day of preseason we were required to meet certain fitness tests. The 2-1-1, our main fitness test, you have to run two miles in under twelve minutes, take a six-minute break, run another mile in under six minutes, take another six-minute break, and run a final mile in under six minutes. Our other preseason fitness test was the track protocol which was more of a sprint fitness test. Then during the winter, coach gives us personalized workout plans to improve on the areas we need to work on.” As you can tell, competing in a college sport is no joke, especially when playing Division I.

The athletes also made it clear that playing sports in high school is much different than playing in high school. Olivia told us her biggest difference between the two levels by saying, “In college everybody on your team is just so much more dedicated to getting better.” Not only are others dedicated but football player from the University of Illinois, Gabe Megginson said, “The main differences are just the level of competition. Everybody is the same size and strength and was the star of their high school team, so it’s a lot more challenging. There aren’t bad players in college football.”

Although all of these players have been part of more than just one team, they have been able to develop a new outlook on teamwork from the teams that they are part of now. Olivia Kaufmann says, “Everyone on the team has put in so much work for most of their lives to get to where they are now, so when game time comes it’s only fair if you give it your all for your teammates.” Mark had the same outlook on how a team works and he said, “Everyone has to know their role and perform it without complaints to fully benefit the team as a whole.” In college sports teamwork really is key because there are so many good players put together on one team, so in order to win, it is important to work together.

The last thing each player was asked was to give a piece of advice for current high school students hoping to play a sport in college. Gabe Megginson’s advice was to “showcase yourself as early on as possible. The more coaches and people you get to know the better off you’ll be getting recruited.” Olivia believes that in order to be successful in your sport you also have to be happy with your team so she said, “I’d be sure to like your coaches and teammates. You’re with one another all the time, and if you don’t enjoy being around them, then it’ll be tough to be happy.” Player Mark Wilson thought it was most important to get yourself out there and he said, “Work on your sport year round, whether that’s improving part of your game or getting stronger/faster. Also create a resume and highlight video that you can reach out to college coaches with for recruiting. Also go to winter camps, ID camps, and summer camps so that different coaches can see you play.”

Playing a sport in college is no joke and often times it can feel like a full time job. Regardless of how difficult things can be, Gabe, Mark, and Olivia are perfect examples of what a college athlete is, and we are proud to call them JHS alumni.

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JHS alumni athletes: What are they doing now?