The chasm between JV and varsity sports is much greater at the collegiate level than in high school. It takes more than determination, sacrifice, time and athleticism, although it still requires all of these elements, to move from junior varsity to varsity in college. It takes something more.
Ethan Lee, a senior finance major and forward on the soccer team, is another athlete who made his way from JV to varsity.
During his freshman year at Delaware’s Seaford High, Lee worked his way onto the varsity soccer squad. Throughout high school, he attended camps where colleges came to look for potential players. Cedarville’s coach asked Lee to play for the Yellow Jackets, and he decided he wanted to go to Cedarville.
He came to Cedarville, expecting to play what he called “a reserve role.” Unsure of what that meant, he showed up on campus thinking he would have a minor role on the varsity team. But during his freshman year, Lee played on the JV team, a team he didn’t know existed until he arrived.
Lee said the transition from high school to JV was difficult because the game was much more competitive. Lee continued to work hard and push himself through every obstacle, and the coaches took notice.
“A few weeks into the JV season, freshman year,” Lee said, “my coach pulled me aside and told me he had been watching me and recommended me to the varsity coach, who also liked my level of performance. I began practicing with varsity for the rest of the season, except when I had JV games to play in that conflicted with practice.”
Even though he was practicing with the varsity team, his spot on the team was far from solidified, because he was still playing on the JV team. Then, another obstacle found its way into his life. He sustained a hip-flexor injury that required months of rehab.
Once he fully recovered from the injury, Lee started practicing with the varsity team again, but everything still wasn’t clear. He continuously asked the coaches when scrimmages and workouts were and whether he could come. Finally, Lee decided he needed assurance.
“I had a final discussion with the coaches because I needed to know where I stood for several reasons, including the fitness regimen I would do over the summer, whether or not I would work the team camp in July, and whether or not varsity practice gear would be ordered for me,” Lee said. “It was then that the coaches, somewhat hesitantly, moved me to varsity full time; I could tell they weren’t sure themselves what to do with me. The move paid off in the fall as I began my sophomore year on varsity and was starting by the fourth game, a role I held for more than half the games that year.”
Cedarville men’s soccer head coach Brett Faro said he liked what he saw in Lee.
“The transition from JV to varsity for Ethan was seamless,” Faro said. “He is the type of kid who will give you 100 percent every day and desires to see himself and others improve on a daily basis.”
Lee has had his ups and downs with the varsity team, but overall he said he has loved playing varsity.
“It has been a tough but rewarding journey,” Lee said.
David Dinnie, a senior at Cedarville, began his collegiate basketball career on the JV team, but moved up to the varsity team two years later.
Shane Williams, a current member of the JV basketball team, played with Dinnie in high school. Williams said Dinnie “is an example of someone who has worked hard on and off the court to better himself. He thinks second of himself and is more interested in being a team player.”
Dinnie began playing varsity high school basketball for Grove Avenue Christian High School in the seventh grade. He completed an impressive career for the Richmond, Va., school, averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds. He was the captain all four years of his high school basketball career.
Dinnie wasn’t recruited out of high school and came to Cedarville with the intention to only play intramural basketball. However, when he heard about the JV team, he decided to give it a shot. Dinnie tried out and made the team his freshman year, and he made the team again the next year.
His junior year, though, turned out to be the turning point in his college athletic career. Two assistant coaches for the varsity team asked Dinnie if he would be willing to be a “practice player.”
The varsity team was in need of a big man with some skill, and Dinnie was the player they were looking for. He eagerly accepted the offer and shortly thereafter, began practicing and lifting with the varsity players. Ever since then, Dinnie has been evolving from a “practice player” to someone who might see some increased playing time this upcoming year.
Dinnie said that there are several differences between JV and varsity.
“Time commitment is probably the biggest, you miss out on a lot of breaks and such,” Dinnie said. “The intensity is definitely a lot higher. The speed is a lot different. Definitely a couple steps up from JV.”
Dinnie said he became a better player because he accepted the coaches’ offer and applied himself to the task. Williams said Dinnie has become a better player mentally and physically due to an improved work ethic.
“Once David was able to use his size to his advantage, he became more of a player that was able to let the game come to him,” Williams said. “He understood the game and was able to mentally will himself to play harder and tougher. I believe that the hard work David put in this past year in his first varsity year will reap good results in his second year of varsity.”
Patrick Estepp, the head coach of the men’s basketball team, praised Dinnie’s dedication to the team.
“I am really proud of Dave and the amount of work he has put into making himself a better player,” Estepp said. “Dave would attempt to run through a brick wall if I asked him to. It is evident that he is all about the team and wants to do whatever he can to help us win.”
Byron Brown is a junior global business major and sports reporter for Cedars. He plays for the JV basketball team here at Cedarville.