CHS Seniors Commit to College Athletics

Isabell Kopf

As May 1st has now come and gone, most seniors have committed to their future plans. For a handful of CHS seniors, their future plans involve committing to continue an athletic career in college.

Nationwide only 7 percent of high school athletes go on to play a varsity sport in college, which is about 1 in every 14 athletes.

“We have had years in which no athletes have gone on to play in college and other years in which a couple have,” said Mr. Corey Behnke, the Chilton School District activities director. “Lately, we have had more athletes than in years past. Not only have we had some very talented student-athletes come through our programs lately, but they are also very dedicated and driven.”

Colleges the Seniors Have Committed To

This year, there are five seniors who are fully committed to playing a college sport and one who is still making his decision.

Mariah Moehn will be attending UW-Stevens Point to continue her track and field career.

“When I set the school discus record in eighth grade, it made me feel amazing,” Moehn said. “Since then, I have felt the same excitement about every small track accomplishment I have made. I love throwing and knew I wasn’t going to want to say goodbye to it after senior year.”

Wyatt Schmitz will be going to UW-Platteville to run cross country. “I want to continue sports to keep me in shape, meet new people and simply give me something to do,” Schmitz said.

Kaiden Mikalowsky will be playing football at UW-Oshkosh this upcoming season.

“I was pretty set on playing football at UWO for a while now,” Mikalowsky said. “I love playing football. I am not sure what I would do without it.”

Mikalowsky’s former teammate, Trent Breckheimer, is still deciding whether he will join Mikalowsky this upcoming football season at UW-Oshkosh.

Ryan Broeckel has committed to playing basketball at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

“I want to continue my basketball career because I fell in love with the game when I was young and I know I can help out my team,” Broeckel said. “Another reason is the experience of creating a brotherhood with my teammates that will last forever.”

Will Kapral has also committed to playing basketball, but at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri.

“I chose that school because it felt most at home,” Kapral said. “There were some other schools, but my decision was easy.”

Kapral is also the only 2020 CHS senior to receive an athletic scholarship.

“I got my scholarship because I was a good fit for replacing some of the graduates, and the coach wanted me to come in ready to fill a significant role in the offense,” Kapral said. “I think playing on a scholarship puts the pressure on. I have to work hard every day yet, so I can keep my spot and not lose my scholarship.”

As the head varsity boys basketball coach, Mr. Behnke is excited about Broeckel and Kapral continuing to play basketball.

“I am thrilled to see players from our basketball program go on to compete at the next level,” Mr. Behnke said. “They put in a lot of time to get the opportunity to play college basketball, and it is rewarding to see them still have a passion for the sport after spending four years in our program.”

Pandemic Not a Factor in Decisions

Luckily, all of these seniors have stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has not affected their plans to play at their respective colleges.

“COVID-19 didn’t have any impact on my decision,” Broeckel said, “but I am super frustrated I can’t get in the gym or weight room during the time off.”

Despite the restrictions placed on the nation, the athletes are hopeful they will go on to play their sport at college as scheduled.

“I’m excited just to be back on the field again,” Mikalowsky said.

Recruiters and College Visits

Once these seniors knew they were interested in continuing to play sports in college, many did their own research and met up with recruiters via college visits in order to help their decision-making.

“I started by looking at the size of the school that has my intended major as I wanted a school that wasn’t too large in size and then looked at what they had to offer along with education,” Schmitz said. “For me, Platteville offered a great variety of clubs from hunting to racing as well as access to computers, 3D printers and a shop with all I could ever need. This made the decision between UW-Green Bay and UW-Platteville easy.”

Mikalowsky said that Mr. Michael Arendt, a physical education teacher and the head varsity football coach at CHS, helped him work with interested coaches.

“Arendt helped me out a lot,” Mikalowsky said. “But in the end, the (college) coaches came to me.”

Mr. Behnke works with interested athletes to help their search.

“As the athletic director, I field some calls and emails from colleges looking for information on our athletes and also work with our scholarship-level athletes to make sure that they are in compliance with the NCAA Clearinghouse,” Mr. Behnke said.

The NCAA Clearinghouse is where potential college athletes register with the National Collegiate Athletic Association in order to become eligible for Divisions 1 and 2 competition as well as earning possible scholarships.

As a coach, Mr. Behnke had a little different role when helping Broeckel and Kapral.

“As the basketball coach, I am involved in a lot of different ways,” Mr. Behnke said. “I have helped my players by reaching out to colleges on their behalf, making highlight videos, talking to coaches and facilitating which colleges they want to have contact with and which they don’t.”

Broeckel, Moehn and Schmitz all said that they reached out to colleges they were interested in and worked with the coaches of their sport in order to gain more insight as to how a college team operates.

“Once I was down to Whitewater and Stevens Point, I filled out recruiting questionnaires and got in touch with the coaches,” Moehn said. “While at state my junior year, I met some coaches from Point. I sent some emails and got to meet with the throws coach at Point and the head coach at Whitewater.”

Reasons Behind Their Choices

There are a number of reasons why these athletes chose the colleges they did.

“I chose WLC because of the culture that they have established — not only on the court and locker room, but also as a school in general,” Broeckel said. “I could really feel that everyone on campus was welcoming me and my family with open arms. The proximity of the school was also a factor. I could have gone to Viterbo, but then my parents wouldn’t have been able to make it to most of my games, and that was really important for me.

“I also had a lot of interest from other schools like Lakeland, UW- Sheboygan, Carroll and a few others. The decision was really hard for me because I knew that this was going to determine how the rest of my life plays out.”

These seniors are extremely excited to continue their athletic careers, especially the anticipated bonding with their new college teammates.

“I’m most excited for the team atmosphere,” Moehn said. “I went to a track and field practice where they had their own mini-meet. Everyone was cheering each other on, and they stayed to watch when their events were over.”

What It Takes to Be Successful

The seniors noted the amount of time spent building their skills during the offseason.

“If you want to keep playing a sport in college, put in extra time outside of practice and get stronger and faster than you are now,” Moehn said. “Coaches will notice the little things athletes do to improve and want someone who will keep working to get better.”

Moehn also said to prepare for the time-management skills needed in order to balance lifts, practices and competitions as well as coursework.

“These student-athletes have put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to their academics to get into college and their athletics to have the opportunity to compete in college,” Mr. Behnke said. “They have made this a priority in their lives and are now reaping the rewards of their hard work. I wish them the absolute best at the next level and look forward to following them in the future. They have represented Chilton with pride and have made a lasting impression on our programs.”