Former Blake athletes share their collegiate experiences

(This is an archived article from the old website, so the name of the author appears incorrectly. The original article was written by Cora Present)

Collegiate level athletics is a tricky business: from the recruitment process, to fighting for a starting starting spot, former bengal athletes, shares their experiences, and give advice to the next generation.
Currently a sophomore at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, field hockey defender Nicole Lertora began the recruitment process as an underclassman in high school. When looking for the right college, Lertora prioritized education over athletics. “When weighing my options I really had to consider the school first,” says Lertora, “because I’m going to college to get a degree first, not to play field hockey.”
Lertora received a starting spot as an outside midfielder her freshmen year. In that first game as she lined up on the field with her team and  the starting lineup was called out, Lertora took a step forward and waved to the cheering crowd upon hearing her name. “It was one of the best moments I’ve had at college so far,” she says. With her second season as a sophomore well underway, Lertora has managed to maintain a spot in starting lineup, this year, as a defender.
Overall, Lertora says, “Any path you choose when picking a college will be fine, whether it’s your top choice, or last resort as long as you make the best of wherever you go.”
Also a sophomore, soccer player Paul Tabe began the recruitment process shortly after his senior season concluded in fall 2014. Tabe chose Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, PA, in the hope of using it as a stepping stone to play D1 soccer later in college. Tabe received a starting spot both years, but this year, Tabe has taken on the additional role of team captain.
Tabe, like Lertora, emphasized that the time commitment is no joke. “You can’t miss class,” says Tabe. “Even if we had a late away game and came back to the school at 1am,” he adds, “we’re still expected to be in class at 8am the next day.”
Reflecting on his decision Tabe says “My experience could be better.” Harcum lacks the more sophisticated equipment and training staff that Tabe hopes to find when he transitions to a D1 program.
Former teammate of Tabe’s, sophomore Emmanuel Oppong, is currently a center forward at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Oppong did not receive an offer from St. Mary’s,  but thought he had a good chance at receiving a spot as a walk-on.
Oppong received a spot on the team his freshman year, and quickly bonded with his teamates. “Everyone basically forgets that you were a walk on after a week because they realize that you can play at their level,” he adds. Though Oppong did not have high expectations regarding play time, he completed his first season with a decent amount of play time, and five goals.
As a chemistry major, Oppong has had more difficulty than the other athletes making up classwork. “It’s pretty difficult to make up 3.5 hour lab sessions,” he adds, “especially if my lab partner is not on the team.”
Swimmer Cory Camp, a junior at the University of Delaware, began the recruitment process summer after his junior year at Blake. He was offered scholarships from a variety of schools, but ultimately chose UD because it was closest to home, so his parents would be able to attend his meets.
Camp swims both distance and the individual medley. He trains 20-30 hours a week both in season, and out of season, going above the requirement in hope of improving his performance.
Reflecting on his college decision, Camp says, “It has been everything I wanted it to be, and more.” He adds, “I couldn’t be happier that I chose UD for my college experience. ”
Volleyball player, Courtney Hutchinson, a freshman at Hood college, didn’t have a recruitment experience like the others. After deciding to attend Hood College, Hutchinson explored the possibility of playing, and sent a skills tape to the coach at Hood, who responded favorably.“Just like in high school,” Hutchinson says,  “I walked into the gym, showed my coach my best effort, and was rewarded with a spot on the team.”
Hutchinson has found the biggest difficulty with collegiate athletics to be receiving playtime. “Last year I was the oldest, the biggest, I had more experience than most other players,” she says. “Now, I am up against 22 year old, 6’5″, 200lbs women that have been playing volleyball since they were seven. I am in competition with my teammates for that starting spot,” adds Hutchinson. “Sometimes claws come out.”
However, Hutchinson expressed gratitude that she received a family in her team. “I absolutely love my teammates,” she says. “We all have such a strong passion and every time we step on the floor, regardless if we’re starting, or warming the bench, everyone is engaged and supportive.”