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  • Matt Ondesko

Ivy League Education

by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor

Photos: Geoff Schneider/Sports Union

Where to go? What to do? What do I want to major in?

Those are some of the questions that students asked themselves as they get ready to decide on a college. For some, colleges and universities will recruit them if they are good enough to play sports at the next level.

For others, they will be recruiting their favorite school. Either way, students have so many options when it comes to where they want to continue their next four years. There are so many different schools ranging from the state schools to the bigger universities.

One thing is for certain, however, if the student is looking for the right fit. Themselves, along with their parents, are looking for a school that will offer everything in terms of academics, sports (if they play) and the all-around college experience.

Williamsville East High School softball player Abbie Stellrecht has been dealing with the process since the seventh grade. It’s crazy to think about a seventh grader being looked at it considering Stellrecht wasn’t even in high school yet.

But, that’s how colleges work. They see a student-athlete at some travel tournament over the summer and the courtship begins. Of course college coaches are following all the NCC guidelines when doing the courtship, but it’s still fun to be wanted.

As her recruiting started to heat up, Stellrecht was taking in all the offers. She knew what she wanted when it came to school. She knew what she wanted when it came to academics. When the University of Pennsylvania came knocking on the door, the decision for Stellrecht was pretty easy.

“Beginning in the seventh grad, the recruiting trail was was an exciting time for me and my daily. From traveling to different campuses, playing in national tournaments, to getting tours from student-athletes, I would definitely do it again because it gave me the opportunity to be recruited by my dream school,”stated Stellrecht. “Choosing to attend UPenn was such an easy decision once I fell in love with the campus environment, and athletic opportunities they provide their athletes. Education was a huge factor in deciding the best fit for my future, and I look forward to not only playing DU softball, but also to receive a top tier education.”

Making her college decision early has also helped Stellrecht play more loose. Stellrecht doesn’t have to worry about who is in the stands all the time when she takes the field. She is now just able to play the game the way it was meant to be played with fun.

Playing the game with a smile on your face is a lot easier than worrying about every single play that is mad win the field, or every at bat. Stellrecht was able to focus more on herself and the game that she loves. She was also able to have fun with her teammates.

“I am able not to put added pressure on myself because I know that I have extremely talented teammates behind me every play. Everyone is so supportive of one another which helps me to stay loose in the most important pressure situations,” stated Stellrecht. “While I always try to play relaxed, making my college decision early definitely allows me to play more loose, whereas I don’t have to worry about impressing every coach who comes to watch our games.”

Stellrecht is just one of many talented players to either play for Williamsville East or have played for the Flames. It seems every year there are girls that are signing on to play Division I or II softball.

That type of competition in practice is good for Stellrecht and the rest of the players. Everyday Stellrecht knows she is competing to keep her starting position on the team. Everyday she is being pushed by her teammates to get better, and she is pushing them just as hard.

That’s why the Flames are very successful year in and year out. The players police themselves. The players push themselves and each other to be great each and every day.

“Playing for a team such as East with enormous talent is exciting,” stated Stellrecht. “With all of the expectations put on us each year it helps us to stay competitive as well as motivated to keep performing at the level we know we are capable of being at.”

Playing the game is easy, what’s been going on this since February is mentally draining. All the spring sports teams were holding out hope that there would be a season. With the virus striking the world no one knew what was going on.

As the days turned into weeks and then months, players were losing hope that there would be a season. As the calendar hit May the announcement of the spring season was officially cancelled.

It’s was a lost opportunity for players to bond with teammates, some for the last time. It was a lost opportunity for players like Stellrecht to work on their games. At the end of the day, it was a lost opportunity for everyone.

“The loss of real game reps will hurt timing as well as in game experiences crucially important for the preparation of the summer travel season,” stated Stellrecht. “I am mentally staying on track by preparing for the summer season with my dad and brother, as well as continuing to develop my skills for college ball.”

Where the skills, and at what position, they will take her who knows. At Williamsville East, Stellrecht plays a couple of different positions. She could be the catcher one day and get rid of the gear and play second base the next.

Each position provides Stellrecht with a unique experience to look at the game differently. Behind the plate, Stellrecht is involved in every single play of the game. She is controlling what the pitcher is doing on the mound. She can also see the game differently.

Playing second allows her a completely different challenge.

“It would be a tie between catcher and second base. When catching I love being involved in every play and having the ability to command the field,” stated Stellrecht. “Middle infield provides me with a fun challenge of making diving plays and defending behind my pitcher.”


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