CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. – For more than a decade the Shenendehowa Athletic Department has celebrated the accomplishments of its student-athletes who make an official commitment to a college or university at the highest level of competition and the Division I level.
This year athletic director Christopher Culnan made it a priority to include the other top stars within their sports that will continue to compete in their respective sports for the next four years in the first-ever Division II, Division III and Junior College recognition ceremony in the High School East Gymnasium at the end of the school year.
The fields remain the same size; the rules are the same from the junior college level to Division III through Division I, little changes, with the exception of potential coverage on ESPN. The change is the opportunities for some athletes that help shape their decisions.
Shenendehowa rower Patrick Moore is going to a Division I sports powerhouse school in Penn State, but his strokes will now be taken with the club team, but the academic draw made him a Nittany Lion.
“For me the field, astronautical engineering and not just aerospace, most schools don't have an astronautics program and Penn State was one of the only schools,” Patrick Moore said. “I found out recently that Penn State has a program called the Lunar Lions where they are sending a spacecraft to the moon in an effort to win the Google Lunar X prize.
“They were one of the top competitors, even though Google ended the contest; they are continuing the missions and their ideas.”
With such an intense major, rowing Division I would have been almost as hard as putting a racing shell in space.
“The workload is not too fun as it is in high school and you do have to time manage and focus on specific tasks, in college you still have that huge workload and I don't want to lose focus on my academics over athletics,” Moore said.
He still hopes to make an impact on the Penn State campus for his sport.
“I do hope to join the team's board to try and help them get a new boathouse and even a dock,” Moore said. “I do plan on trying to contribute to the club growing as it is.”
Shen rower Max Palmer had Rochester Institute of Technology in his sites from an early age.
“Shen has a ton of RIT programs with project Lead the Way and ever since eighth-grade when I learned that they were behind all the tech classes and stuff I just wanted to go there,” Max Palmer said. “It was my goal since then. I didn't think I'd make it and then I did, I was pretty happy.”
He chose RIT over local engineering programs at RPI and its crew team. Now he’s looking to make an impact for the Tigers.
“They have a lot of walk-ons, people who haven't rowed or don't know how to scull, so the fact that I had experience in both kinds of rowing they immediately wanted me,” Palmer said. “Being the captain on our team (Shen) helped too.”
Choosing a school for the next four years is a challenge for any senior, then when you add a sport the climb gets harder and if you are interested in a specific position within a sport it becomes an arduous task.
But it was nothing that Shenendehowa senior coxswain Virginia Partlow who threaded the needle to find the perfect fit for her school, career and sport at the Wentworth Institute of Technology.
“Our list was very small when I was searching, I was very adamant about having architecture and rowing,” Virginia Partlow said. “Then putting the five-year limit on top of that and I only applied to two schools, Roger Williams and Wentworth.
“They have a five-year program so after I will graduate with a masters and I can go great into the workforce, so for me that was one of the main things I was looking for.”
She was also looking to continue calling races for her new college rowing team.
“I started off as a rower after a series of injuries I just decided I wanted to be a coxswain, so I have both the rower point of view and the coxswain point of view and coxed twice at the Head of the Charles,” Partlow said. “That was something they were interested in because it is such a big race. I've had a lot of experience and a lot of the coaches have very good things to say about me.
“I'm very open to learning, I'm very coachable and I already have knowledge and they said you have a chance at being the V1 coxswain. Everything that you know, there is a chance that you could do it. With the drive that you have and the passion for the sport it's doable.”
Shen pitcher Ben Lavery chose Division III St. John Fisher College, joining a Shenendehowa teammate and finding a perfect fit over the lights of potential College World Series coverage with a Division I school on ESPN.
“I was looking at a majority of DI and DIIs, but when I visited there, the campus and how their coaches treated their players individually and how the current team said how their coaching staff treats their teammates it stuck out,” Ben Lavery said. “They have a great campus, a great atmosphere and it really stood out for me when I chose it over schools.”
He also knows he has a friend on the St. John Fisher campus.
“Brandon Roberts who graduated last year is playing out there, when he eventually chose there it kind of put that back in my head again,” Lavery said. “He always talked about it, his coach reached out to me and I took a closer look and eventually fell in love with the program.”
Like many Division II and Division III athletes, it’s four more years of competing.
“I get four more years of baseball, that's all you have to think about.” Lavery said. “Some kids are playing four more years; some people get over-hyped about the divisions, and its four more years of baseball.
“Four more years of the game that you've played since you were four years old and I'm forever thankful for that.”