With the 2018-19 high school sports season in the history books, Tompkins Weekly is taking a look at college plans for last year’s top performers. We will continue this two-part series next week by talking with three other local members of the class of 2019 about their post-high school plans.
Garrett Bell, Lansing High
Although Garrett Bell considered colleges as far away as Virginia and North Carolina, his final choice was close to home, Ithaca College.
“I always wanted to play at the next level, and I’ve known coach [George] Valesente my whole life,” Bell said, who also considered Elmira College, the University of Scranton, Barton College and the University of Richmond. “Plus, my mom [Debra Bell] and her parents [Eleanor and Charles Higgins] went there, so it seems like the right place for me.”
Although Valesente, a Lansing resident, announced his retirement this summer after 41 seasons on South Hill, Bell still expects to see a lot of him.
“I think he’ll be around the program,” Bell said. “He talked a lot with me about playing there, and I think he was excited when I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
Bell’s decision wasn’t based completely on baseball, though. He was also attracted by the school’s Sports Management program, which is part of the School of Business.
“That was a big pull for me,” he said. “I know they placed a lot of interns at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea as well as events like the Super Bowl. I know someday, baseball won’t be there for me, so I want to have a good degree to fall back on.”
Bell has spent the summer playing with the Cortland Crush in the New York Collegiate Baseball League, allowing two earned runs in 18.3 innings of work on the mound while striking out 21 and walking five. The Crush won the Eastern Division title as Bell got to know some of his future IC teammates.
“There were four Ithaca players on the team,” he said. “I think having established some of those relationships before I even start college will be a big help.”
Bell was the Bobcats’ top pitcher and expects to see time on the mound at IC. He also played regularly at shortstop and hopes to be a two-way player for the Bombers, although he thinks any time he spends in the infield will likely be at second base. The biggest change, however, may come in the fall, when Bell, who also played football and basketball, finds himself on the diamond instead on the gridiron.
“I’ll miss those Friday night lights, for sure,” he said.
Garet Marsh, Dryden High School
Garet Marsh will be heading to Roberts Wesleyan College in the Rochester suburb of Chili to play lacrosse alongside his brother Gavin, who will be a junior midfielder for the Raiders. While reuniting with his brother on the lacrosse field was part of the reason for choosing Roberts Wesleyan, according to Marsh, it wasn’t the driving force.
“The biggest thing was their major in Homeland Security,” he said. “It’s a pretty niche major, and there aren’t many schools that have a lacrosse team to go along with it. I looked at some other schools for lacrosse, especially Saint Rose and Binghamton, but they didn’t have the Homeland Security major.”
One thing Roberts Wesleyan does not have is a football team, but Marsh thinks this will actually make it easier for him to transition away from the sport he loved during high school.
“It’s hard to play two sports in college, and I didn’t really develop in football until my senior year,” he said. “It will be hard not playing football in the fall, but watching other people play it while I didn’t would be even harder.”
After spending most of his lacrosse career as a long-stick defender, Marsh moved to short-stick middie for his senior year at Dryden. He’s not sure which role he’ll play at Roberts Wesleyan, an NCAA Division II team that went 7-8 last season, including a 3-3 mark in East Coast Conference play. He said he prefers which ever position will get him playing time the quickest. The team opens fall practices two days after he arrives on campus.
Marsh has spent the summer working in the weightroom and doing countless stick drills, many of them with his brother.
“I’ve been playing lacrosse with him my whole life, so it will be great to get back together with him,” Marsh said. “He’s certainly let me know what to expect, but more importantly he pushes me to be prepared, which I think will help me a lot.”
Addison Wolff, Ithaca High School
Throughout most of her four years at Ithaca High School, Addison Wolff expected she would continue her track and field career in college. After all, she set a school discus record as a freshman, won a sectional title as a sophomore and finished third in the state meet as a junior.
But midway through a senior season that would result in a return trip to states, Wolff questioned her assumption of competing in college. After talking with track and field athletes at schools she was visiting, she began to understand the commitment required to compete at that level, especially at the Div. I schools atop her list.
“I didn’t want throwing to feel like a job, like something I had to do,” Wolff said. “I want to make sure I can handle the course work, try out other activities, and meet other people. When you’re an athlete, so much of your time is tied up in practices and lifting and competitions that it can be hard to do those things.”
In May, after being admitted to the University of Delaware, she visited the campus and left knowing it was the right choice for her.
“It’s far enough south to be warm, but it takes only four and a half hours to drive there so I can still see my family often,” Wolff said, who plans to major in nutrition with a possible minor in exercise science. “The campus was very energetic, and everyone there was super nice. I immediately canceled the plans I had made to visit
Michigan State and UMass because I knew Delaware was where I wanted to go.”
Wolff says she will keep throwing with her dad through the summer as she always has and will work with local club coaches when home on break. She has an eye toward possibly trying to walk on to the track and field team as a sophomore, if she feels ready for it.
In the meantime, she is considering playing club soccer at Delaware, continuing a career that included time with the Little Red squad.
Although Wolff says she felt at times like she was letting people down by not continuing her throwing career next season, she’s convinced it is the right choice for her.
“I would advise any other high school athletes in a similar position to be true to themselves,” she said. “Know what you want to do and what your limits are and then make the decision that’s right for you.”
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