Making the leap from high school to college sports is not easy. According to scholarshipstats.com and the NCAA, only 7% or 1 of 14 high school athletes make the jump from high school to college varsity teams. Making the leap from high school to Division I sports is even more difficult with only 2% or 1 in 50 athletes able to compete at that level.
Here are members of the Albany High School class of 2015 who will be taking their talents to the next level.
Lorenzo Sannibale – St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota
Lorenzo Sannibale is one of the six captains of the Albany High Football team and will be continuing his dreams at St. Olaf College on a Division III scholarship.
St. Olaf, located in the blisteringly cold city of Northfield, Minnesota with temperatures that can reach as low as -31°F is a coeducational, residential, four-year, private liberal arts college.
Sannibale was offered a small scholarship at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. However, he ultimately chose St. Olaf since the school showed real interest in him.
“They treated me like they actually wanted me. Other schools didn’t show the genuine interest that St. Olaf did. They literally called me every day and asked me how my day went,” he said.
College is a time for students to find their independence away from the safety net of their parents. Sannibale thinks that moving to the Midwest will give him the opportunity to do something by himself.
Sannibale thinks that going to St. Olaf will give him a chance to find his independence. When he visited the campus during spring break, the student body embraced him with open arms. The people of the surrounding town were nice as well. In addition, the team and its coaches wanted Lorenzo on their side of the line throughout the game.
“One of the reasons I committed to St. Olaf is the fact that I was going to an instant factor at the school playing defensive tackle.This school will be give me the opportunity to develop and actually be an important factor to the success of my team.”
Lorenzo’s goals are to “make first-team All American, all-star games, bowl games, and the national championship for my school.”
Sannibale will be pursuing a major in Economics with a concentration in marketing.
Allison Chuang – Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
Allison Chuang is presently the 18th ranked tennis player in California and has won numerous awards and titles for herself and for Albany High. She will be continuing her tennis career at Dartmouth College.
Allison had to choose between UC Davis and Dartmouth. During her high school career, she would play a lot of tournaments in the Sacramento area and would stop in Davis for dinner.
“I really liked the UC Davis campus and the team was really nice if a little bit weaker than I would’ve liked. But I would have gotten a full ride and I actually wasn’t considering schools outside of California,” she said.
The Dartmouth coach showed interest when he emailed her during January of her junior year.
“Over the summer he came to watch two national tournaments that I played in, but every match he watched I lost. Still, I think the fact that the coach showed up to watch my game really made an impression on me,” she said.
“After the tournament I was really discouraged, but the coach emailed me telling me that he liked my spirit and composure on the court. He offered an official visit in September.
“The campus was beautiful during my visit. Imagine it… the bright orange autumn leaves were really remarkable. I guess you could say it was love at first sight,” said Chuang.
“The coach is very encouraging and is more interested in player’s effort rather than actual results. I talked to him and he emphasized the importance of team cohesiveness. He said something like, ‘if the team get along and has fun, everything else comes easy.’”
Chuang was also impressed by her experience with the team.
“The women of the team were extremely friendly as well as hard driven. I got to watch them practice and it was obvious how much they loved the sport and being on the team,” she said.
Dartmouth may be the perfect place for Allison Chuang. Their tennis team was ranked 31st in the nation last year and it is also one of the world’s most prestigious colleges.
“Since Dartmouth is a liberal arts college and known for its undergraduate teaching I would have a ton of opportunities to find a field of study that I love,” she said.
Nick Kubler – California State University, Sacramento
Soccer goalkeeper Nick Kubler has had an interesting high school career. Deciding to forgo his senior year playing for the high school soccer team, he chose to play at the De Anza Force Academy. He will be continuing his goalkeeping aspirations at California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State) next year.
“My goal was to play in a Division I college so I had to choose between Sacramento State and Florida Gulf Coast University. The environment at Sacramento State was a lot better. The Sacramento State coaches were really good at communicating with me. They were really involved in my career so far and the other stuff I was doing with my other team,” he said.
The coaches at Sacramento State seemed more interested than those at Florida Gulf Coast and were better communicators.
“I would rather be in California than Florida,” he added. “The student life at Sacramento State was more of what I needed. Florida’s scene didn’t connect with me because of the parties and beaches. Sacramento is also in a suburban area and I really like the idea of a diverse city.”
Kubler seeks to focus on both soccer and academics. Sacramento State is not only a place with amazing coaches but also a stable college where Nick could stay focused on his studies.
“The teammates on the official team visit were also really close and I really wanted to be part of that brotherhood. They also had dance parties as a pre-game ritual and I think I have some pretty good dance moves,” he said.
“I received the same scholarship package for both. The question at the end of the day was, ‘Do I want to be in California or Florida?’”
The choice was clear.
Andrew Gu – Santa Clara University
Andrew Gu is a five star recruit for tennis. He is ranked 48th in the nation and has won countless tournaments and awards for Albany High. He will be attending Santa Clara University (SCU) next year where he will also be continuing his tennis career.
Gu picked SCU because of the numerous opportunities that he can choose from.
He said, “SCU is next to the Silicon Valley. It has an interesting business program and is located near thousands of startups and the world’s largest high-tech corporations. It was one of the main reasons that I decided on the school.”
Gu also said, “I chose SCU because they will have freshman team this coming year and I want to be part of a new team that has raw talent.”
Ranked 12th in California, Gu will be among other highly regarded freshmen tennis players.
“I quickly got a great connection with the guys and they had the same spirit of competition that I felt too,” he said.
Gu will receive an athletic scholarship to attend Santa Clara University.
Gu stated, “Even without the scholarship, I would have still chosen SCU because it was one of my top five colleges.”
Garon Pelesauma – Luther College, Decorah, Iowa
Wrestler Garon Pelesauma has made countless finals at tournaments, won league championships, and qualified and performed exceptionally well at the California Interscholastic Federation State tournament. He will be continue to maintain his high level of wrestling excellence at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
Garon was considering three schools: Luther, Menlo College, and San Francisco State. Off the wrestling mat, Garon aspires to be an emergency medical technician.
“Toward the end of the decision process, I was leaning towards Menlo or Luther. But Menlo did not have the major I wanted,” he said.
Garon stated, “I didn’t like the idea of moving to Iowa at first because it was so far away, but because of national tournaments I am getting used to getting open and traveling.”
During the recruiting process, Garon’s college wrestling coach took the extra step to get Garon’s attention.
“The coach is a really genuine guy. He’s really animated. He’s been interested for the past summer. He’s been on my ass about my life and showing real interest. Also, he was the first coach to reach out to me.
“He traveled all the way from Iowa just to watch me which was really cool. To be honest, I would have gone anywhere because I like to think I’m an open guy. The other coaches I talked to didn’t show the same interest the Luther coach showed me. So in the end, the coach was a selling point for me. I think he’s going to be the coach that’s going to push me and teach me at the next level.”
Ariana Saghafi – University of Wisconsin, Madison
Swimmer Ariana Saghafi’s journey to college was a long and hard process. The plans she’s had since she was eight years old changed dramatically this year.
Saghafi will attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the fall, where she will continue her swimming career. However, her sights have not always been set on Wisconsin.
“For college, athletics come first and my education comes second because I’ve always dreamed of going professional and making it to the Olympics. Ever since I was eight I had been taught by my parents and coaches that Cal was the place for me to achieve those dreams. Plus who wouldn’t want to get a degree from Cal?”
However, plans often change. Cal was not as enthusiastic about Ariana as she was about the school. Cal was not willing to give a freshman a big part on the team and would not offer her a scholarship.
“The way I saw it, if I wasn’t worth any money, I would not be important on the team,” said Saghafi. “That was a big blow to my college decision because aside from Cal, I had no real plan even though I had safety colleges. Personally, I found it really rude that even though I had known the Cal coaches since I was 12 and they had connections to my coach and family they didn’t have the decency to call me and tell me that Cal wasn’t the place for me.
Ariana then visited several colleges including Washington State University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Southern California. Not only did the team and pool at each school play a huge role in her choice, but also the coaching style of the team’s coach. Ultimately, Ariana’s personal coach helped her a lot with her decision making.
“My coach sat me down and said straight up said ‘Wisconsin.’ The head coach at Wisconsin had coached his (Ariana’s coach’s) wife when he worked for Cal and she suggested him as a really good fit for me. Within that hour I kind of just knew, and he told me, ‘We will get you out here for a trip within in the next two weeks.’ Over those next two weeks we had constant contact. I got emails and calls from his assistant coaches, and as awkward as phone calls can be with people you don’t know, I liked them all.
“I didn’t choose my school off of its name. I know that Wisconsin is the place where I’ll be happy and get the most out of my college experience and college career,” Saghafi concluded.