By Megan Martin
Five committed Hornets are going to make a splash at their intended colleges next year. Catherine Boles is committed to University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) for swimming, Laura Fornshell is committed to Fresno Pacific for swimming, Megan Cvitanovic is committed to Stanford for crew, Alanna Reyes is committed to the College of Mount Saint Vincent for softball and Rileigh Long is committed to University of Wisconsin Madison (UWM) for crew.
Boles has been swimming competitively for 10 years, starting on the Islanders, and then recently switching to the Sharks. Her favorite part about the sport is making new friends. Swimming gives Boles the opportunity to travel while socializing and competing at the same time. This combination “makes it fun and less stressful,” said Boles.
A typical day’s practice consists of a warm up (dynamic and stretching), then a warm up set after that. Then they move onto the main set, which is usually aerobic or anaerobic, and then a kicking or pulling set. Finally, they warm down and sometimes do dryland (running or strengthening workouts). “But it is a lot harder than it sounds,” said Boles.
Boles began the recruiting process as a sophomore by filling out college questionnaires, because colleges cannot start truly recruiting until junior year. Boles would email coaches of colleges she was interested in, and keep in contact about upcoming meets and current times for strokes. By senior year, she had the colleges she was interested in narrowed down to three.
Boles went on recruiting trips for her top colleges. These recruiting trips were usually 48 hours where she would room with current team members to get a feel for the environment of the college. Boles decided on UCSB because she thought it was a really good academic fit. “I felt like I bonded with the team, and I really like the surroundings,” said Boles.
She did receive a scholarship, which was helpful but not the most important factor for deciding on a college. “I wasn’t choosing a college based on money,” said Boles.
While managing a sport and school can be arduous, Boles feels that “swimming, though it is extra, provides a good balance with school,” by “serving as an easy way to take your focus off stress.” Also, at UCSB, the academic counselors give class priority to athletes with the goal of not conflicting with practice schedules. To further help the student athletes, UCSB “has different practice times so if you can’t make one, you can go to the other one,” said Boles.
Boles plans on majoring in biology. She says she is “looking forward to improving, but mostly meeting new people in college and different teams.”
Fornshell is also a swimmer who has been swimming for 12 years. She “loves swimming so much,” and feels that swimming at the collegiate level is the best way to continue her passion.
An average day’s practice for Fornshell is a 15-minute warm up then a 15-minute warm up set. The majority of practice is a long set which is “usually really hard and annoying.”
Fornshell “didn’t really know what kind of college” she wanted to go to, but wanted to make sure to look for where she would fit in best with the “team and the team aspect of the college.” She went on three recruiting trips, which were three days long. “I emailed the coaches, went on their websites and looked at their rosters and times,” explained Fornshell. She got to room with current swimmers for the full three days, which was “actually really fun” and a good learning experience, according to Fornshell.
Fornshell decided on Fresno Pacific University because the people were “super nice, and it didn’t seem like it was fake, it felt super genuine.” Also, it is a small Christian college, which wasn’t something “ I was looking for, but it turns out that it is a win-win,” said Fornshell.
Fornshell did get a scholarship, but said that her decision was not 100% about the money. “It does play into it heavily because that is something I would be struggling with if I didn’t have it,” said Fornshell.
Fornshell understands that swimming and attending college will be hard, “but something for my college that is really cool is that there are two practice times, so if you have a conflicting class you can go to the other one,” Fornshell said. Fornshell plans to major in kinesiology.
Swimming has been such “large part of my life for a long time, and it is kind of just like an outlet for me to focus on besides the rest of the drama and other stuff,” said Fornshell. In college, she is predominantly looking forward to “having a lot of fun with the team.”
Cvitanovic rows for the Oakland Strokes six days a week, and has been since her freshman year. Her favorite part about rowing is meeting and bonding with girls “from all different schools” and “from all different areas.” Cvitanovic also loves crew because it is “really hard and it is really painful” so the “people who row know how to really work hard in school and in rowing.”
Practice is everyday after school from 4-6:30 p.m. and on Saturday mornings from 7-10:30 a.m. “We are always really eager to know what we are doing at practice, there are rumors sometimes, like is it going to be really hard or not,” said Cvitanovic. They show up, warm up dynamically, and then they either move to rowing on ergs (dryland rowing machines) or rowing on the water.
Cvitanovic began the recruiting process formally at the beginning of junior year. She would email coaches from around seven or eight of her favorite schools. Throughout the year Cvitanovic would keep them updated with race results and erg times. Between her junior and senior year, she had narrowed it down to just a few schools.
“Recruited athletes go on official visits, which is where the school pays for you to come out and look at the school and stay with girls on the team,” said Cvitanovic. She went on three official visits to Harvard, UCLA and Stanford. “I loved my Harvard one but I decided I didn’t really want to go there and that I like Stanford better,” said Cvitanovic.
This was not a free application, but it was supported by Stanford Rowing. “ I was really excited when I got in because that is when I really got it,” said Cvitanovic. She was admitted early admission. As of now, Cvitanovic has a book scholarship, where Stanford will pay solely for her books. But if she hits a certain time on the erg before June, Stanford will grant her a 25% scholarship. While “money is always a big thing,” she ultimately chose Stanford because she “just wanted to be happy” and thought she would have the best time.
Cvitanovic has been exposed to a lot of rowers going to college within Oakland Strokes because “we all love it a lot and we can’t see ourselves stopping.” Cvitanovic feels she is prepared to manage school and crew in college because she has been “trained” how to do that all throughout high school. Also, Cvitanovic thinks “that doing a sport helps with academics because you are forced to manage your time a lot.”
Cvitanovic plans on majoring in biology at Stanford, and a lot of her team are biology majors, so they will be able to help her make the transition between high school and college.
Cvitanovic loves the “connections that I make with other girls” and thinks it is cool that she will “probably know each other for the rest of our lives.” At Stanford, she is looking forward to getting to know the rowers because they are “recruited from different countries” and all have “different interests.” Also, “The coach is supposed to be really crazy so I think it will be really fun.”
Reyes has been playing softball since she was five years old, and plays on two teams: Alameda High School’s softball team as well as her club team, The Stompers. Her favorite part about softball is “being able to play a really competitive sport with teammates” who support her and truly act like a team.
A typical practice begins with stretching and simply playing catch. Then the team moves on to doing infield and outfield work, then hitting, and finally ending the practice with conditioning. Balancing softball practices and school “keeps me disciplined and academically on track,” said Reyes.
Reyes used a recruiting website to initially contact the coaches, and then started emailing them when the recruiting became more formal. The College of Mount Saint Vincent, in New York, expressed specific interest, so Reyes sent them her schedule and “they would come watch my tournaments or games.” The college invited her to visit the school, then offered for her to come on an official visit. She really liked the school, and they wanted her, so they offered her a spot on the team, and she decided to commit.
The softball program and Mount Saint Vincent is division-3, which does not give out athletic scholarships. But Reyes is receiving the Corazon Aquino Scholarship, which supplies full tuition to the school. She applied solely to Mount Saint Vincent. The scholarship money did help because “college is really expensive,” but Reyes mainly chose the school because “it is in New York and New York is beautiful, and I just really felt that it is where I am supposed to be.” Also, the school allows her academics to be her first priority because division-3 is not super competitive athletically.
Reyes always knew that she was going to play softball in college. “I felt in my heart that it was something that I was always just going to do,” said Reyes. Softball has kept her more disciplines and focused, and has been a great tool to get here where she wants to be academically.
Reyes plans to become a nurse, and Mount Saint Vincent has a “great nursing program” that she was already accepted into. Mount Saint Vincent also supplies an accelerated program to go through after she becomes a registered nurse.
Reyes is looking forward to playing softball at a more competitive level surrounded by people who really want to be at such a high level. “You are there for a reason, and everyone wants to be there,” said Reyes.
Long rows for the Oakland Strokes six days a week. She has been rowing for four years. Long classifies herself as a “really competitive person”, so she loves crew because there is so much competition with other teams as well as “competition within the team.” Also, she loves that she gets to “race against people from all around the nation.”
Her typical day at practice starts with practice every single day of the week from 4-6:30 p.m. “We usually warm up for ten minutes or so and then we go on the water,” said Long. They row in the waters between Alameda and Oakland. They usually row in a fashion similar to races, with sprints and long distance. Then the team usually comes in around 6 and “wash the boats and put them away.”
Long explains that getting recruiting for rowing is a “little bit different” than other sports. First, “you fill out recruiting questionnaires on athletic website,” said Long. They generally ask height, weight, recent erg time, and academic information (for example, GPA and standardized test scores). Then the college emails you back if they are interested. “If they like you then you go on this official visit and you can decide if you like the school,” said Long.
Long states that for lightweight rowing there are no scholarships, so “you don’t get any money at all.” But UWM essentially guaranteed her admission to the school, “which is really nice,” said Long.
“I know some people from my team who have gone to UWM,” said Long, and they really like the school’s environment. Long is not too worried about juggling college and a collegiate sport because “you have morning practice and you usually have time to go to class afterwards and do your homework and relax.”
Long expressed that she picked UWM because “it is a really really cool school,” and she knows the midwest region because part of her family is from there. Long also said that it is one of the schools she is really excited to row at, and “they wanted me, which is a really nice feeling.” Long also decided on UWM because it is the only school she is interested in that will allow her to major in nursing while also being part of the rowing team.
Long wanted to row in college mainly because “it is the next step up for the competition.” She would be rowing against all different people from around the nation, some of whom could potentially be olympians.
Long is looking forward to “making a lot of new friends from around the country” through collegiate rowing. Also, “I am excited to race in a college rate and get to experience a different level of training,” said Long.