Struggles
Class of 2014 athletes ‘find their groove’

Haley Frye

H. Frye

brashear

2014 Grad Riley Brashear now plays volleyball for Mount St. Joseph.

Each year, Kings High School holds several ceremonies full of teachers, coaches, family and friends to celebrate senior athletes who have excelled so much at their sport that they sign on to continue their careers at the college level.

Last year, Kings recognized 22 such athletes, including Maddie Kuhn, Sydney Zinser, and Riley Brashear.

But what happens to these athletes after they graduate? Some find it difficult to navigate their new environment, new academic expectations — more or less, a brand new life in college — while maintaining the athletic success they achieved in high school.

The Knight Times contacted these graduates, and all of them acknowledged that the transition can be, at first, a little overwhelming.

Zinser said that, soon after moving away from home and beginning her soccer career at Belmont University in Tennessee, she found that balancing class responsibilities with athletics was a real challenge. 

“You have to keep transitioning between classes, practices, (lifting) weights, and getting all your study hall hours in,” she said. “It was hard to get into the groove of that at first.”

Khun also moved away to attend college at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio. She said she also had some obstacles to overcome when she began her soccer career. The first obstacle was discovering that college academics are a lot different than high school.

“Balancing soccer and school is definitely harder than high school and harder than I expected,” Khun said. “A lot of time goes into it.”

Whereas the academic workload challenged Khun the most, Zinser and Brashear (pictured above) both had to overcome injuries, adding more anxiety to an already-stressful transition. Brashear was a star volleyball player for the Kings Class of 2014, and went on to sign for The College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati. But about midway through her season, she sustained a head injury.

“I got a concussion ten games into the season and it was pretty bad. I faced missing two weeks of class and it was a challenge to make up all the work from it,” said Brashear.

At Belmont, Zinser’s soccer injury kept her on the sidelines for the entire season.

“I didn’t play this season because I tore my ACL, but I still did everything with the team and it was just as hard as actually playing,” she said.

While they faced many challenges, all three athletes agree that they also had a lot of fun. Kuhn loves that she can still competitively play her favorite sport while also making some new friends.

“I enjoy being able to continue playing the sport I love and how I’ve become so close with the people I’ve met,” she said.

The KHS signing ceremonies mark only the beginning of a long journey for many athletes, and the road is not always easy. It takes a unique individual, and Kings High School volleyball coach Amanda Meadows recognized this uniqueness in Brashear from the first time she saw her play.

“Riley’s athletic ability and drive were evident from the beginning. [She] is one of the hardest working players I’ve ever coached,” said Meadows. “She not only gave 100% at every practice but she also would come early and stay late for practices all year round.”

This work ethic helps Brashear with her busy schedule.

“We have at least three hours of practice a day along with added rehab, which can be an hour to two hours, and then balancing our class schedule with that,” said Brashear.

Nonetheless, the long hours and hard work are worth it to Brashear, who hopes to continue her volleyball career after college.

“I plan to continue volleyball by coaching and getting involved in sand volleyball,” Brashear said.

Zinser also has her sights set on the future, perhaps playing professionally.

“I’ve been thinking about playing after college … and I would love to do that. I know it would be a lot of hard work and a challenge … because you’re competing against the best. It would be my dream to continue playing because I can’t see my life without soccer.”

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