Freshman year is a time when memories are made: walking into the wrong room on the first day of classes, falling in love with a mysterious stranger, feeling the adrenaline rush as one gets back to the dorm two minutes after curfew, the list can go on. But year one is also a time of transition from high school to college, and some people handle the change more smoothly than others.
This transition is magnified in the collegiate sports world. Freshman athletes have to adapt to competition at the college level, and the upperclassmen have to focus on the upcoming season while teaching the newcomers. All the while, the coaches strive to make sure their team does not fall apart.
This year, Cedarville welcomes 10 freshmen to its basketball teams. According to the coaches and the veteran players, the new recruits are ready to display their talents on the court this upcoming season.
Coach Pat Estepp and the men’s basketball team have three freshmen on the roster. Two of them, Patrick Bain and Evan Kraatz, are scholarship athletes, and the other, Sean Blackburn, is a walk-on.
And Estepp said the freshmen have handled it well.
“It’s difficult for a freshman to realize how hard they have to go consistently in practice,” he said, “and these three guys have done a really good job of adjusting to that quickly.”
The veteran players have helped to make the freshmen’s transition a little easier.
Estepp said, “Our veterans have done a good job taking these guys under their wings, and the freshmen have come in wanting to learn.”
One of these veterans, senior guard Marcus Reineke, has been teaching the new players how to compete at the college level. He said he has been impressed so far by the freshmen.
“It’s very obvious to me that they’re hard working, dedicated and determined young men that definitely strive to get better each and every day,” he said.
The freshmen have also impressed Estepp with their dedication.
“They’re as talented and as tough and hard-nosed as any group of freshmen that we’ve ever brought in,” he said. “They’ve done a really good job so far this preseason with how they’ve worked and the extra time they’ve put in and how hard they’ve competed.”
As for the Lady Jackets, head coach Kirk Martin brought in the biggest recruiting class in school history with seven freshmen: Taylor Buckley, Regina Hochstetler, Kaitlyn Holm, Haley Tyler, Breanne Watterworth, Emily Williams and Abby Wolford.
Martin said he is enthusiastic about the new recruits.
“What’s exciting for us this year with the seven is they’re all meeting our expectations,” Martin said. “It’s really exciting to see how well they’re playing.”
Although the team is full of youth, Martin said having a veteran presence is important.
“The best thing that the seven freshmen have going for them,” he said, “is that our returning players came out of a year in which team chemistry was one of the best I had ever had while we were here.”
Senior forward and captain Deborah Gordon said that the freshmen have meshed well with the rest of the team.
“It doesn’t seem like we’ve really skipped a beat,” she said, “because everything that we had last year has been replaced in such a strong way that we all do get along really well. We all love each other off the court to the point that there’s no drama.”
The freshmen are eager for the season to start. Center Breanne Watterworth said she looks forward to winning, but she acknowledged that the team can’t win every game.
“There’s going to be a point in time where we’re going to lose,” she said, “and I don’t want it to shut down our team. I want it to make us grow and be better.”
Even with seven freshmen on the team, Martin stressed that the season will hinge on the play of the upperclassmen.
“I think it’s important that (the freshmen) understand that they don’t have to be the answer for our program,” he said. “All they have to do is work to get better every day, and let their athleticism take them where it needs to go. Our season won’t be about the play of our freshmen. Our season will be about the play of those who will return.”
Jon Gallardo is a junior journalism major and sports editor for Cedars. He loves playing basketball and quoting Napoleon Dynamite. He hopes one day to play in the NBA.
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