Former Warriors give current athletes primer on realities of college

Lebanon High School athletes got a chance to hear what life is like at the next level during a Dec. 19 face-to-face with 10 alumni who have gone on to compete in college.

Athletic Director Kraig Hoene organized the event, in which each of the alums told what life was like as a college athlete and offered advice on how to prepare.

The 10 were:

Kara (Hallock) Urrutia, Class of 2012, who competed in track at Lane Community College and then at Oregon State University after basically rewriting much of the record book at Lebanon;

Garrett Urrutia, Class of 2012, who competed in football and wrestling at Southern Oregon University;

Maddy Kelly, Class of 2015, a swimmer at College of Idaho;

Cody Johnson, Class of 2018, who plays baseball at Linn-Benton Community College;

Cole Sipos, Class of 2017, who plays football at Linfield College;

Zach Short, Class of 2016, who competes in track and field at University of Idaho;

Ty Hargis, class of 2016, who plays football at Pacific University;

Lauren Christie, Class of 2017, who plays volleyball at Hawaii Pacific University;

Kevin Crowell, Class of 2017, who plays baseball at Pacific University; and

Colin Tracy, Class of 2015, who has competed in cross-country and track at College of Idaho.

Some big themes were taking the challenge of a demanding schedule seriously, staying on top of schoolwork and training with a purpose.

“Successful people have good habits,” said Hoene, who polled the alums on what their high school GPA’s were. All were above 3.5 with one exception.

“These guys aren’t successful because they’re good athletes. They’re successful because they have good habits,” Hoene said.  “They compete at a high level and they don’t just do it in athletics. They don’t just do it when people are watching. They do it all the time.”

Athletes said they found it challenging to balance their academic demands with athletics and a social life.

Several commented on how long college seasons are compared to high school sports.

“I wasn’t aware college sports were pretty much 24/7,” said Tracy, who went out for cross-country at College of Idaho after competing in soccer and track at Lebanon.

Now a senior, he captained the cross-country team and is heading into his final season of track.

“If you really want to do sports (in college), you really have to be willing to work. Otherwise, you’re not going to do it.”

Kara Urrutia said she has invested considerable time in physical training to be a heptathlete at OSU, where she placed 10th in the NCAA championships in her senior year, 2017, earning second-team All-America honors.

Garrett Urrutia noted that he switched from football to wrestling at SOU after the former didn’t work out. He suggested that prospective college athletes keep their options open.

“Just because something doesn’t work out doesn’t mean nothing will,” said Urrutia, who qualified three times for nationals at SOU and was an All-American in 2015 with a seventh-place finish.

Sipos, a sophomore who missed his freshman season at Linfield with an injury, said athletes need to be patient and “work hard,” – noting that between practice and weight training he was busy as much as eight hours a day.

“It’s going to take a lot of your time,” he said. “It’s worth it, though. Give it your all if that’s what you want to do.”