Senior Sydney Sung is one of many students at Paly that have decided to pursue their sport in college. She began playing golf at 5 years old, where it became a family activity to play with her dad and sisters. From there, she grew an immense passion for golf and has been playing ever since.
“I think at this point in my life, it’s definitely become a huge part of me, just being able to connect to an activity so much, and love it in the way I do,” Sung says. “It’s a part of my identity and it will be forever… Having my sisters play the sport with me has also made me grow my love for the sport.”
Many universities across the nation have amazing golf programs, but Sung was specifically drawn to the University of Michigan.
““Visiting the campus and seeing the facilities… the facilities are incredible, not to mention the amazing coaches who are so dedicated to their players, everything kind of came together,” Sung says.
Not only was it the exceptional golf program that Michigan has, but Sung also grew a love for the team and environment they have created.
“Beginning my recruiting process, I had no idea where I wanted to go, until I started talking to the coach, and seeing how well their team was doing, knowing how they run their practice, and how much dedication the coach puts into the team, Michigan quickly became my top choice.”
Sung’s graduating class, 2022, faced some difficulties regarding recruiting due to COVID-19. There was a dead period, meaning that no college coaches could watch a player play in person. While other sports could send in game tape and highlight reels, it was a bit different for golf.
“With golf, coaches really want to go out there and see how you react to your shots, not necessarily how you play, but more what kind of attitude you have when you’re playing bad or good.”
Despite facing such challenges, Sung was able to connect with Michigan’s coaches and team. She plans to further her golf career after college as well, and hopes to play professionally.
“I definietly want to pursue it at a professional level… Michigan and its program and facilities, everything will just help expand my talent and my skill, especially getting advice from the amazing coaches there,” Sung says. “I think pursuing it professionally is definitely a big option for me.”
Senior Mariana Kessinger is also another Paly student who is a future college athlete.
Kessinger has developed many strong relationships and bonds through soccer.
“I think that soccer has had a major impact on my life because I’ve formed so many good relationships with so many people, and my coaches have been amazing mentors for me, for not only soccer, but life in general,” Kessinger says. “I spent so much time with them that they really changed my life.”
Kessinger received lots of support during her recruiting process from her coaches when narrowing down her top university options. She was specifically drawn to Cornell University and has committed to playing Division I soccer there.
“I’ve always also really loved school and loved pushing myself academically, so I wanted to find a program where I could still pursue a really high level of academics and a high level of soccer.”
Kessinger’s recruiting process was also a bit delayed because of COVID-19 and the dead period. However, she quickly received an offer from Cornell once the dead period was over.
“Usually, this doesn’t happen, but the coach asked me if I wanted to commit in the middle of camp, which was really stressful because I hadn’t talked to my parents because I didn’t really expect it that soon. But, that was really exciting because for the rest of camp, I could just play and relax and it wasn’t as stressful.”
As much as she loves soccer, Kessinger is also incredibly academically driven. She hopes she can continue to pursue professional soccer, but also has dreams of other careers in different fields.
“Ever since I was really little, I’ve always wanted to play professionally. It’s definitely still been an option I will consider throughout college and throughout the entire process. But, women’s professional soccer isn’t as much of a profession. Because I’m also so academically focused, as much as I would love to play professional soccer, it would be something that I would only consider if everything else fell into place, and I could have a job or go to grad school while I could do it.”
Senior Henry Bolte has committed to the University of Texas to pursue Division I level baseball. He began playing at around 3 or 4 years old, and is thankful for everything baseball has to offer for him.
“I think baseball has had a huge impact on my life, I’ve met a lot of my best friends through baseball, great coaches through high school, and it set me up for college, I would not be anywhere near where I am right now without baseball.”
Bolte had a few worries due to the dead period, but he generally had a smooth recruiting process despite the difficulties.
“I think elements of the unknown were a little stressful, since people are committing to schools younger and earlier each year. I had people in my corner helping me out, like my coaches. They guided me through the process which made it a little easier. I think there were aspects of it that were stressful, but looking back at it as a whole, it was a good experience.”
Bolte was drawn to the University of Texas for multiple reasons, such as the coaches and program, the experience of living in a different area, and the sports fanatics.
“A factor [that drew me there was] going kind of far away from California because I wanted a different experience. Another thing is they really care about their sports out there, so they have a lot of fans at the baseball games, and having that environment was really appealing to me on top of the whole program itself, so that drew me there as well.”
For these reasons, committing to the University of Texas was a straightforward and easy decision for Bolte after his love for the school grew quickly.
“For most of the time, it was my top choice, kind of my dream school, so it was an easy decision. After the opportunity was there, I think it might’ve taken 2 days to decide, so it was pretty quick on that end.”
Regarding his baseball plans after college, Bolte hopes to continue playing professionally, but is currently focused on living in the present.
“I’m just trying to play the game for as long as the game will have me, so as long as I can. If that’s in the cards for me, if that’s an opportunity for me, then I’d love to. But right now, I’m just trying to keep playing the game.”