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Transition from prep star to college student can be difficult

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
High schools stars are often used to accolades, celebrations and being the “big man on campus.” But once that athlete hangs up the cleats for good, the quietness of simply being a “student” can be deafening.
Going from being a prep star to a “regular” college student can be difficult.
Some student-athletes just don’t have quite what it takes to compete in college. Others may have the opportunity to compete, but instead choose to concentrate on their academics.
While some may be fine with giving up sports, others miss the competition. Playing recreationally can help fill the void for some, but it proves to be fruitless for others.
Whatever the case, going from the limelight to nothing can be a difficult adjustment.
Ashley Saunders was a pitching sensation for the Plymouth Vikings softball team. Her no-hitters, strikeouts and wins were well documented.
Saunders was a fierce competitor on the diamond. Her pretty smile off the field transformed into a scowl on the mound as she slung pitch after pitch past hitters.
Like many, Saunders had a chance to play in college, but opted to concentrate on her studies instead. And, like many, Saunders desperately misses the competition.
Saunders stays active and keeps herself in tip-top shape, but there is still something missing from her life.
Saunders is not alone.
Sink or swim
Tyler Kelly, a former star swimmer at Washington High School, found another way to stay active in his sport.
A time to heal
Being a multi-sport athlete in high school can cause wear and tear on the body. For some, like former Bear Grass High School standout Lindsay Shaw, the body requires a break.
Nobody’s watching
Some athletes, like former Williamston High School standout Stephen Lilley, play intramural sports to keep the competitive juices going. However, Lilley admitted that it’s not the same.
Staying active
Summer Rahn, a former star at Bear Grass High School, has stayed plenty active after high school. Rahn, who is currently attending UNC-Wilmington, said her transition has been easy. That was made all the easier by playing competitive volleyball.
Cameron Whitehead, a former star at Washington High School, stays active year-round thanks to intramurals.
Former Nothside High School standout Phelan Fletcher has also taken advantage of the many intramural sports available at ECU.
Now what?
Many athletes start playing athletics at a young age. There are now opportunities for young kids to play recreation softball, baseball, soccer and basketball.
Carrie Amici, a former standout at Washington High School, began playing softball when she was 9.
Staying in the game
There are occasions when a former prep star will land on a college team. However, for various reasons, it won’t stick. Former Southside High School standout K.J. Reddick, who originally earned a spot on the UNC-Pembroke basketball team, found that out the hard way.
The setback didn’t stop Reddick from playing the game he loves.
Still have memories
Many athletes are upset that they didn’t pursue a college athletic career. However, they are able to fall back on the memories they made in high school.
Like Hollowell, former Williamston High School standout Susan Griffin cherishes her high school memories.
Missing the camaraderie
Being a part of a team can be something special in high school. It can be a tough adjustment when you don’t have your teammates around for support.
How do you cope?
Patrick Landrum, a former star at Williamston High School, said some athletes never lose that competitive spirit.
Changing priorities
Bryce Stephenson, a former standout at Northside High School, said some athletes have to readjust their priorities once they get beyond high school.
A healthy choice
Many athletes can thank their grueling days of high school practices for helping them maintain a healthy lifestyle in college and beyond. You can take the sport away from the athlete, but you can’t take the athlete out of the person.
Galen Niederhauser, a former swimming sensation at Washington High School, said he feels better by keeping active.
Former Williamston High School star Emily Best, who went on to attend Peace College and N.C. State, said she didn’t feel the need to continue playing after high school. However, she wants to maintain the healthy lifestyle.
Life is a marathon
Marella Peele, a former star at Washington High School who went on to Elon, is taking it a step farther.