Advice From Coaches To AAHS Athletes Moving On To Collegiate Sports


Senior Matt Storer signed for cross-country and track at Colorado Western University. Here he is shown out sprinting an opposing racer at the 2019 Colorado State Cross Country Championships.

Senior Lanye Andersen poses after signing to dive for the United States Merchant Marine Academy

Though the quarantine seemed to have snatched so much from so many, the hard work put in for years by motivated athletes hasn’t been lost. Their efforts still shined through. From Air Academy’s graduating class of 2020, there are fifteen athletes who signed to play NCAA sports in the next chapter of their education.

Senior Sydney Barnes signs to play volleyball at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

This is an incredible feat for these individuals. Each put in immense amounts of work and succeeded in beating their peers in persistence and passion.

These now college recruits may know a good deal about their sport, which is the high school or club level that they have grown to know. However, there is undoubtedly the possibility of uncertainty about where they are headed and what their next page in life is about to look like. 

Senior Justin Banta signs to run track and cross-country for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

There’s always the obvious advice for college given to nearly every senior ever whether it be from parents, other family, teachers, coaches or anyone older than high school age: “Don’t just go to a school for a scholarship,” or, “Pick a school that has what you’re interested in as well as your backup plan,” or “Go somewhere you can afford.” Some hear the advice: “Make sure you feel welcome and at home.” 

Senior Kylee Blacksten signs to play basketball at Colorado University Boulder.

But how about for students taking the challenge of competing at one of the highest levels they can be in athletics? For this transition, coaches who were former college players can often give the best advice.

“There are a few things that stick out in my mind,” said Cross Country Coach Chuck Schwartz. “Definitely make sure you prepare well with summer training so that you’re not injured or behind when you get there in the fall. Talk to your coach about redshirting, it actually is a big help.”

Senior Tatum Miller signs to run cross-country and track at Portland State University.

“The academics were a lot more difficult than what I thought they were,” Schwartz continued. “The balance isn’t easy with the athletic and academic workload. So make sure you’re careful with choosing your course load, leave yourself some wiggle room to rest and train and study and still have fun. Get the balance quickly so you’re not playing catchup.”

“I was having trouble in some classes during my time at Arkansas (at Monticello), so I talked to one of my professors a lot and talked and asked for help. The more the professors get to know you and see that you care, they’ll help you more. Professors are important to your education and they can hook you up with careers down the road or just help you along in general,” Schwartz added.

Schwartz also noted, “You absolutely should build a relationship with your coach. Coaches are a good thing to have on your side.” 

Senior Aria Schlieker signs to be a volleyball player for the Norse at Luther College.

Since this spring season of sports were canceled, there may be athletes who feel crushed by missing out on their last season of high school.

Senior Ethan Abbs signs to Colorado Mesa University to run track and cross-country as a Maverick.

“With this COVID-19 thing going on, I have reflected a lot on what this would have been like for me. On one hand, I definitely took my breaks and this would have been a good chance to have a physical, emotional, and mental break. I could keep tabs on my goals. Cross-training was something that I loved to do and do on my own. As a coach, I am careful not to force the idea on [my] team that we all need to be working out hard and making compromises during this time, but as an athlete, I would handle it by just staying fit and having some fun. I would focus on feeling good and getting stronger. Other athletes might take this time to work on other skills or even other sports. That is probably the best way to keep injuries away when the season gets going again. But without a facility or coach, many kids are left without the structure they need to feel accomplished and they spiral into a pit. Many athletes thrive if and only if they have constant encouragement,” said Scott Newell.

Senior Matt Mettler signs to run track and cross-country at Colorado School of Mines.
Senior Hayley Payne signs to play volleyball at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

“If an athlete is thinking about competing in college, they shouldn’t stress about a lack of chances to perform. College coaches are also affected by this quarantine. Many are shut down except to call and recruit. Any athlete can make contact with colleges and use his or her resources to impress your future coach without having any stats for this year,” added Newell.

For the fifteen athletes who have signed, congratulations! Instead of giving it “the old high school try,” the time for figuring out “the old college try,” is now. Good luck, and stay healthy!

Senior Adin Schwenke signing to play soccer for University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Senior Lyla Hollis signs to play volleyball at Northern Arizona University.


Senior Thaddeus Dewing signs to play soccer for the United States Air Force Academy.
Senior Ian Rainsberger signing to pole vault for Western Colorado University.
Senior Olivia Jacobsen signs to play volleyball at George Fox University.