Harrisburg alums making their mark in collegiate play


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Former Lady Bulldog standout Matty Hawkins (#12) is currently completing her senior year at Trinity International University. Hawkins will return to school as a teacher, having majored in education as a student-athlete.

Drew Hawkins, Staff Writer

Harrisburg has seen some phenomenal athletes in its past. Most have gone on to live regular lives while others are still playing a variety of college sports at many different levels.

Some of these great athletes include Patrick Keating (20th round drafted by the Kansas City Royals), Chuck Hunsinger (3rd overall draft pick by the Chicago Bears), Braden Jones (Vikings Tight End), John Romonosky (Pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals).

There are currently 22 former Harrisburg athletes in college sports at this time. The vast majority are in baseball.

All of the baseball players are currently playing at junior colleges in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference (GRAC). While there are also former students also playing in National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) at the Division III and at the Division I level. 

Though Harrisburg is a small school, there is definitely a tradition of having athletes good enough to play in college.

What separates these college athletes from regular high school athletes is how much effort they put into their sport. 

SIC freshman Javier Beal (2021) plays baseball for the Falcons.

“Just never taking a  true day off and always doing something, even if it was small, helped me a lot,” Beal said. “Me being tough on myself, never feeling like I was doing enough, made me work a lot harder and improve over the years.”

Some high school athletes realize that either they are not good enough or that they don’t have a love for the game that they thought they did at some point in their careers. Beal believes he has always been different. 

“I think I just put in a lot of work toward something I cared about,” Beal said. “Baseball has always been my life, and I enjoy it in my free time more than almost anything else.”

It is okay as a high school athlete to realize that college sports aren’t the right fit. The amount of work that goes into playing college sports might make it feel like a job, a job the athletes are paying to do.

“An average day is waking up to go to class, practice after class, condition, and eat 5-6 times a day,” Lincoln Trail freshman Colby Morse (2021) said. “It’s a grind, but it depends on how much you love it.”

Not only is playing the sport hard, but managing classes is also hard. The difficulty of balancing both sport and school can depend on the major as well. Trinity International University senior Matty Hawkins (2018) is getting her degree in teaching with a minor in special education.

“All day twice a week I would have clinical practice,” Hawkins said. “Clinical practice is what students do before student teaching. They usually sit in with the teacher and watch how they run things.” 

Hawkins’ clinical practice days fell on days she had games. 

“I was going from my clinical practice, which was all day, to volleyball practices or games right  after [clinical studies] and then after the game had to do homework for my classes,” Hawkins said. “I was spending most of my nights doing homework. I would go to bed late and have to wake up some days around 6 a.m.”