Students are Ready to Play at the Next Level

Lake Shore’s Sports Commits are Excited for the Future Ahead


Aly Senish

Katie Jablynski on signing day.

Aly Senish, Staff Writer

Have you ever imagined playing your favorite sport at your dream university in front of thousands of fans? Whether it’s swinging a bat or kicking a ball, it is very possible. At Lake Shore High School, several students are about to live that dream, including Katie Jablynski and Haley Pilka.

870,000 out of 7.5 million student-athletes make it on a college team. Although the numbers may make it seem like gaining a place on a college team is more of a dream than a reality, this isn’t the case. Students and families who start early, stay focused, and understand the recruitment process are much better positioned to find success at an NCAA, NAIA or NJCAA institution.

Colleges all over are looking for student-athletes, who aren’t just amazing at what they do, but who are hardworking, dedicated, and want to compete. Not only that, but also those who are leaders. The ones who cheer their other teammates on. Sports are a very important aspect of a lot of kids’ lives, and some keep it as one all throughout their lives. Pilka, a soccer commit, is now on her final year at Lake Shore. Her love for soccer has always been there, and now she’s able to play at a Division II university. 

Pilka states, “I will be attending Grace Christian University for soccer. I chose to go there because it is such a great environment to learn and play sports. It’s in a really nice area right outside Grand Rapids and it is such a fun school to be at!”

Her dedication to the sport has pushed her to make it this far. She has played soccer since she was 7 years old and wants to continue for many more years. Pilka plays for Michigan Revolution, as well as Lake Shore’s girls’ soccer team. She is very intelligent and is majoring in exercise science/sports medicine. 

Pilka mentions, “I went to a college combine, which is where a bunch of soccer players go and invite college soccer coaches to come watch them play. The coach came and talked to me about how well I handle the ball and told me right off the bat that he wanted me to play for his team. I also used a recruiting website called NCSA, which helped me get in touch with college coaches.” 

Pilka and multiple other athletes have used: It is definitely a great way to get noticed. A lot of athletes also email coaches, and go to camps. As an example, University of Detroit Mercy annually holds a softball camp for any high schooler interested in pursuing the sport. 

Jablynski is committed to Lawrence University for women’s hockey and set to have a Pre-Med major. She had a different way of getting noticed, which was just as effective. 

Jablynski explained, “The biggest part of it was playing for the association that I have for the past two years. Little Caesars is one of, if not, the biggest amateur hockey associations in the country, and to be able to play for them, I worked super hard every chance I got on and off the ice. Also, before every big tournament I would send emails to all the schools I was interested in, letting them know my schedule and just introducing myself.”

The Lake Shore senior is a goalie, and a very good one at that. It is not a surprise she has committed to a Division I University. 

Jablynski says, “So, I had visited a few other schools and had decided on Lawrence because it felt like home. When I walked on that campus, I could see myself there for the next four years. It helped that they have a very highly thought of pre-med program and that’s what I intend on studying.”

Most people believe it is hard to choose a University, but, when you know your goals, the decision is quite easy. Like Jablynski alludes, she knew she wanted it to be her home for her college experience. But, it still is very hard to leave her High School career behind. 

She comments, “I will miss playing sports in high school. Personally, for me, the amount of work that it took to play at such a high level, and be a successful student athlete, was worth it. I’m going to miss the car rides to hockey after school and the long weekends I spent going all over to play the sport I love. It will never be the same ever again which sucks, but this means I’m turning a new chapter in my life. I’m so excited!”

A lot of athletes, before committing, have to look at the roster. Ask yourself: do you have a chance to play? Are there other people playing your position at this school? These questions are so important. If you don’t have the chance you want, don’t go to that school. Other important questions to ask are: does the coach care about you off the field? Or, is it all about performance? You should be very careful with who you surround yourself with in college, and life as a whole. That statement absolutely applies to the school you make a commitment to and who you decide to play for. It’s about surrounding yourself with the right people.

College coaches can start contacting athletes starting June 15nth after their sophomore year, or September 1st of their Junior year. If that student decides to go to the school, they get multiple “official” campus visits, and they can verbally commit. Verbal commitment is when a college-bound athlete verbally agrees to play sports for a college before he or she signs a National Letter of Intent. This signing states the athlete will play for the school for at least one year.

Pilka and Jablynski are exhilarated about the next chapter of their lives. Their inspiration is touching the hearts of student athletes and it should be shared with a lot more. 

Pilka remarks, “Some advice I would give to athletes wanting to play their sport at the college level would be to keep playing and keep trying your hardest. Dedication is the key to playing a college sport because you have to want it for it to become a reality”. 

The Lawrence commits response was eloquent, “Live your dream! Don’t allow the stressors of the world dictate your future. You dictate your own future. Do whatever it takes to get yourself there. Whether it’s waking up at 5 am to get that extra workout in or stay that extra half hour after practice. Go live your dream.”

Pilka and Jablynski are right. Do what you want to do no matter what that is! If you want to play a sport in college: work hard, persevere, be dedicated, and get there. Everyone has a chance and now is the time to act upon it. Fulfill your dreams, Shorians. It’ll be worth it!