From IHSA to NCAA
May 22, 2012 • adam griffith, bear facts sports editor
Filed under Sports
There are over 100 senior athletes who donned the blue and white to represent the Bears over the past four years and for most, their final moments of school sports will come to an end when the final buzzer of the final game sounds at LZHS. But for over 25 of LZHS’ elite athletes, their careers as NCAA players are just beginning
“I knew I wanted to run in college after my sophomore year of track. I went down to state that year and after that I just knew it was what I wanted to do,” said Chris Rantis, senior track runner who has committed to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s track program for next year. “Some of [the schools interested in me] were [Division] 1, but I really tried to base my decision off of what felt better, which was at Whitewater and it just happened to be a [Division] 3 school that turned out to be the best fit.”
Carlo Fava, senior soccer player, was recruited to play soccer for the University of Illinois-Wesleyan. He also set the goal of playing at the next level at an early stage.
“I went back and forth about playing for awhile, but I just couldn’t imagine not playing soccer anymore,” Fava said.
Like others, Emily Handrahan had the idea of playing college sports in mind from the beginning when she watched her sister, who plays lacrosse at Carthage College.
“I think my end of freshman year, when I started watching my sister in college, is when I knew that I wanted to play in college,” Handrahan said. “I got really interested, and I just knew that when I got to that age, it was something I wanted to pursue.”
The love for the sport seems to be a widespread draw to the NCAA. Between that and the long term goal in the back of their minds, most athletes could not picture themselves stopping after high school.
Danny Bundra, senior lacrosse player, will be attending Concordia University of Wisconsin to play lacrosse next year. Like Fava and Rantis, Bundra had college sports in mind from the beginning of his career.
“I always wanted to play at the next level, I just never knew if I would get the opportunity,” Bundra said. “After the first few games we played [with my summer team], scouts from schools approached me. It was a great feeling. I got a call one day from the Concordia lacrosse coaches and they invited me to come visit the campus. They gave me a tour and I really liked the smaller school atmosphere. After the tour, they introduced me to the team and they were all really cool guys. They let me apply for free and the coach called me a day before I got my acceptance letter telling me congrats on being accepted.”
Fava also took time to look into the school that would be best for him, basing his decisions on both academics and the team.
“When I was looking into my choices, I had to take a lot of things into account,” Fava explained. “My major was a big part of it, because IWU is known for their accounting program, but I also looked for a team I could be successful with on and off the field.”
For Handrahan, the process of narrowing down offers came down to easing the expense of college.
“I was looking for some money back and Augustana offered a lot of financial bonuses,” Handrahan said. “My dad had been through the whole process before [with my sister] so he was able to help find those. Once I had finished narrowing down my options, it really came down to the location, my major, and the money.”
After the process of finding a school based on the program or other aspects of the universities, the athletes are able to look forward to the years to come and the changes they need to make to move from IHSA to NCAA.
“I’m really looking forward to stepping up the level of competition and getting the opportunity to compete against tougher opponents,” Rantis said. “Aside from that, I’m just looking forward to the college experience and moving forward with the next step of my life.”
Bundra shares the excitement of being on his own next year, but also realizes that he has two major priorities.
“I’m really excited to be living on my own as an adult, but I’m staying focused on being able to balance lacrosse and school,” Bundra said.
Looking back on the process that took them to where they are today, athletes are able to offer some insight about the ordeal, as well as look forward to the upcoming years.
“You have to get yourself out there. You have to work out, play hard, and put everything you have into it and in the end it will all pay off,” Handrahan said. “I’m excited because I think I will get a lot of playing time and I’ve already talked to the team and they are a great group of girls. Everyone there is so competitive.
While all the athletes look forward to the upcoming years to compete at the next level and move on to wherever life carries them. However they will never forget the town where they started.
“The Lake Zurich lacrosse program has improved greatly over the years. A lot of that has to do with our great coaching staff,” Bundra said. “Lake Zurich Varsity lacrosse team has so many great competitive athletes and we push [and] motivate each other every practice.”
Rantis also feels he owes part of where he is today to his hometown school.
“I think the coaches at Lake Zurich really were the ones who helped me get here because they’re great. They really pushed me to do well and they wanted to see me do well. They just taught me to love what I do and give it everything I had which is how I got to where I am today,” Rantis said. “I’d tell anyone [who wants to play college sports] they should just stick with it, reach for big goals and give it 100 percent every day. That’s all there is to it.”