Prep stars climb to next level

Local student-athletes reflect on journeys, look forward to next chapter

The collegiate athletic arena awaits a number of recent Hinsdale Central graduates, as well as Hinsdale residents who completed their studies at private schools. These sports standouts shared their fondest high school memories with The Hinsdalean, as well as what excites them as they head to their new campus homes.

This is the first of a two-part series. The second installment will run July 11.

Fiona Allen, University of Virgina, lacrosse

I will most remember ... playing alongside my sister my freshman and her senior year and sharing the field for the first time in our lives. Also, the bonds created not only with my teammates but also my coaches in an atmosphere where everyone is working to make each other better is truly an unforgettable aspect of Saint Ignatius lacrosse.

I am looking forward to ... being a part of the family environment UVA lacrosse prioritizes. I am excited to compete at the highest level and take advantage of all the opportunities UVA has to offer.

Aden Bandukwala, Duke University, cross country/track

I will most remember ... growing close with my team and having fun together.

I am looking forward to ... competing at a higher level and really applying everything I can, as well as meeting my new team.

Shannon Earley, University of Notre Dame, lacrosse

I will most remember ... this last season. Playing in the state championship my senior year could not have been a better way to end my high school career. It was in honor to play with this team at Benet. I wouldn't have wanted to do it with anyone else!

I'm looking forward to ... the challenge of playing at the Division I level. I know that the rigor of athletics and academics will be intense, but the culture in the program at Notre Dame is super supportive.

Nate Harris, University of Wisconsin-Madison, swimming

I will most remember ... the bonds I've made with all people in the program and being able to win on the highest stage with those people.

I'm looking forward to ... meeting new teammates and being able to train for a top-tier program like Wisconsin.

Aidan Hernandez, Davidson College, tennis

I will most remember ... the day we won state.

I'm looking forward to... hopefully improving a ton and coming back a much better player.

John Hughes, University of North Carolina, baseball

I will most remember ... the back-to-back state championships (Nazareth) as well as the team activities we did off the diamond. The bonds created with not only the players but coaches, too, are something I will cherish forever.

I'm looking forward to... the baseball aspect of my college life and being able to compete for such an incredible school. I'm also looking forward to meeting new people and making new friends in this next step of my life.

Elizabeth Lahmann, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, swimming

I will most remember ... the tight knit relationships of HC swim. I have learned many life lessons I will carry onwards, such as accountability and perseverance. I owe almost all of who I am today to my teammates. A specific memory I cherish is when I earned my AAA shirt, which is very special to the team with a secret meaning.

I am looking forward to ... being in a mature and hardworking environment, where every single person is valued. UMass is also the No. 1 dining school in the country, so I look forward to being fed well!

Brody Marcet, Ohio State University, swimming

I will most remember ... how important it is to surround yourself with people who are better than you because of my high school sports experience. If there is no one to push you past your limit, then you won't be as good as you can become.

I'm looking forward to ... getting the opportunity to try to compete at the Big Ten and NCAA levels.

Maisie McDaniel, Davis & Elkins College, softball

I will most remember ... the constant love and support from the girls, Coach Zust and Coach Duffy, no matter the wins or losses. I'm proud to be able to come from a community that was Hinsdale Central softball.

I'm looking forward to ... meeting people through softball, my major and school events. Being able to bond with others while experiencing new things will be very important to me as I'll be away from home for the first time.

Martin Montoya, Northern Illinois University, soccer

I will most remember ... all of the different obstacles I had to face throughout my four years, from COVID freshman year to my junior year being cut short due to my leg injury. I made sure to always stay positive and optimistic, making the most of every opportunity.

I'm looking forward to ... the experiences I am going to get joining a new team and playing at such a high level and facing a new set of challenges that come with being a student-athlete in college, trying to excel in soccer as well as in the classroom.

Jack Mulligan, Northern Illinois University, golf

I will most remember ... the time I spent with my coaches and teammates both on and off the golf course. We had a great group of guys and it was amazing spending my four years of high school with them.

I'm looking forward to ... traveling to great places around the country and even internationally to compete with my college team. I've heard a lot of great things and I'm extremely excited to compete at the college level.

Caroline Owens, University of Notre Dame, golf

I will most remember ... the experiences shared with my friends on the team, especially at all of the state tournaments, and Coach Latorre and Coach Jolicoeur for being such a great support system and helping us to achieve all that we did.

I'm looking forward to ... all that Notre Dame has to offer. I am so excited to meet everyone on the golf team and can't wait for the golf season to start in the fall.

Alex Rasmussen, Loyola University, golf

I will most remember ... the camaraderie among the teams I was on. How we performed I'll probably think of less in the coming years than the relationships I made. Creating that strong bond made the experience so much more fun.

I'm looking forward to ... the independence. I've been very grateful to have many people to lean on in these past years, but now, I am excited to see what it's like to figure life out more on my own.

Elizabeth Sessa, Brown University, volleyball

I will most remember ... the bus rides to games and tournaments with my teammates, getting ready in the locker room and going to get food together.

I'm looking forward to ... meeting new people and competing for an Ivy League championship.

Luella Sheehan, Benedictine University, basketball

I will most remember... the relationships I formed with my teammates, coaches and our amazing athletic department and trainers. I have made so many lasting memories over the past four years!

I'm looking forward to ... continuing my basketball career while studying sports and exercise science in hopes to become a physical therapist or athletic trainer. Benedictine University is giving me the opportunity to play under a great coaching staff, surrounded by a great group of girls.

Carsten Viravec, Kenyon College, lacrosse

I will most remember ... the bus rides. It doesn't matter if it was a 30-minute bus ride in the short bus or a three-hour bus ride on a coach bus (from Blair Academy), we always found ways to make every bus ride a memorable one.

I'm looking forward to ... getting to work in an environment that is built around one thing and one thing only: winning a National Championship.

- compiled by Ken Knutson

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean