Underclassmen star athletes shine bright on varsity teams


Point guard Hunter Shattler brings the ball up court. He started on varsity his freshman year.

Oliver Najar, Staff Writer

It’s the end of practice for the girls varsity soccer team. Everyone is tired and sweaty, ready to go home. However, one player must stay a little later than the others. Sophomore Gabby Gilmore starts her routine of clearing cones, balls and nets from the field. This is an expectation of an underclassman on Varsity.

“It is very difficult because they expect you to carry everything at the beginning,” Gabby Gilmore said, “but towards the end you become higher up and it’s fun.”

Of course, she is not the first to have this role. Every player going through the program has done the task at some stage in his or her high school career. The young players on varsity teams struggle with lack of respect initially, but athletic director Mr. Luke Beach says there are plenty of young athletes with the physical and mental capabilities to compete at the varsity level.

“I think that Gabby Gilmore is a very talented girls soccer player who already has numerous division one offers,” Mr. Beach said. “Luciano Errecalde is another talented underclassmen on the boys soccer team, and he will certainly get a chance to play at the next level. Hunter Schattler, Reagan Wegener and Brent Burtraw [are also excellent], and next season Veronica Haque’s sister will be a freshmen here, and I hear she is already outstanding.”

His cogent predictions are based off of qualities he looks for in young players. Coaches look for the same attributes to ensure they have a reliable player for years to come.

Certain underclassmen have qualities that you just can’t teach,” Mr. Beach says. “For instance, sophomore Hunter Schatler came in last season as a freshman and started on the varsity basketball team. You knew he was going to be an impact player because of his ambition and drive, and he was already physically prepared to challenge for playing time.”

Senior and swim captain Ellen Wegener was a varsity athlete her freshman year and she knows that making varsity takes more than just talent.

“I think we stood out especially in swimming, because we were good when we were young, but also can continue to improve and make progress,” Wegener said. “If you’re good young you need to keep growing.”

Freshman Reagan Wegener is following in her sister’s footsteps and is not only competing at the varsity level, but is also swimming at States.

It’s awesome to be a sophomore on varsity considering it’s more for upperclassmen,” Reagan Wegener said. “To make varsity for swim you must score a certain amount of points a season or place at the league meet at the end of the year. Also you have to have a least a 90 percent attendance to practices.”

Sophomore Luciano Errecalde made varsity soccer as a freshman too. He believes that to be a young varsity player one must be mentally sharp as well as physically strong, especially when older players have a physical advantage.

“Making quick decisions is necessary, because when you’re a lot younger than most of the people out there you have to make quicker decisions,” Errecalde said. “Mental toughness is also a major attribute; you can’t let yourself lose concentration or confidence.”

Similarly, sophomore Hunter Shattler suggests working on strengths to make up for weaknesses in the sport.

My height is a challenge of mine; I’m a lot shorter than other players which makes it harder for me to score and play my game,” Shattler said. “However, I worked very hard and pushed myself to my limits when I worked out.”

The difficulties of being an underclassman on the varsity team include lack of respect, pressure to do well and the struggle of being smaller and more inexperienced than others. However, this turmoil does not go unrecognized. One day, the underclassmen of varsity today will be the face of the Rochester sports programs in the years to come.

“I absolutely see myself as being a leader when I’m older; I will be very familiar and know what’s expected,” sophomore Gabby Gilmore said. “I want to then help the younger players of that time.”