By Joey Peterson —
All freshmen experience a change in their lives as they enter into their first semester of college. Freshmen athletes experience those academic changes as well, but also face athletic changes too. The step playing in from high school to playing in college is a leap in competition, and sometimes it can take a while for an athlete to adjust. However, some make their mark shortly after arriving on campus.
Brittany Staab (Fr, Cottage Grove, Minn.), a cross-country runner, noticed the difference right away in the intensity at the college level. “When I first got to camp this year I remember my easy pace was quite a bit slower than some of the other girls on the team,” said Staab. “I honestly thought there was no way I was going to get through the season. But after a few weeks things got better.” Staab’s best time came at the NCAA Regional with a time of 22:42.
For fellow runner Aleks Ilyushev (Fr, Minneapolis, Minn.), his best time also came at the NCAA Regional, checking in with a 25:35. “College athletics is taken much more seriously and people are certainly more committed to what they’re doing,” said Ilyushev.
“College is different from high school because you are playing with people that you have never met or seen before a day in your life. You have to trust them in situations that you have never experienced with them before,” said Kevion McDonald (Fr, Hopkins, Minn.). McDonald, a wide-receiver for the Blue Devils, hauled in 28 passes for 422 yards and two touchdowns in his first season.
Deciding what college to go to is a daunting one for anyone who is planning on going to college. Ultimately for a student-athlete, the decision comes down to the right fit both academically and athletically.
On the basketball court, Shannan Watkins (Fr, Hoover, Ala.) fell in love with the packaging engineering program at Stout. “The high job placement percentage for the packaging degree is what ultimately made me want to attend Stout,” said Watkins. “In addition to the class sizes, the great campus atmosphere, and my friends.” Watkins is averaging 7.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game thus far for the Blue Devils women’s basketball team.
Jay Alston (Fr, Rochester, Minn.), quarterback for the Blue Devils, played backup for most of the season, but when he got his chance against the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater he took advantage and showed that the quarterback position is in good hands moving forward. One of Alston’s top reasons for choosing Stout was the coaching staff. “I was getting recruited to play football and I liked the young coaching staff and what they had to offer,” said Alston.
Although these athletes’ careers are just getting started, they have already left a mark on each of their respective athletic programs, but each of them will continue to strive towards bigger and better things.
For Ilyushev, he wants to continue to develop to his fullest potential. “I hope to develop myself to the fullest potential and leave with a couple of marks on the top 10 all-time boards,” said Ilyushev. Staab had similar aspirations. “I’d say I mostly just want to keep improving on my own personal record,” said Staab.
Alston and McDonald have goals to take the football program to new heights. “Some goals of mine while competing here at Stout is to lead this football team to be a playoff team and to be in the top 3 teams in the WIAC,” said Alston. “I also have a big goal of being one of the best quarterbacks to go through Stout.”
Watkins has a goal to continue to develop as a player. “I always strive to be a better player than I was the day before and this motto translates to my real life as I continue to develop as a person”.