By Jessica Easthope
Sports are what drive some students at St. Edmund Preparatory High School in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. The dream of a sports career in college and beyond has kept them moving forward, but over the last year they’ve hit a wall.
“I definitely was planning on getting an athletic scholarship and now that’s going down the drain,” said Malik Cole, a senior basketball player at St. Edmund Prep.
In a four year period, nearly 20 percent of St. Edmund students graduate with an athletic scholarship. Up until recently, Malik thought he’d be one of them.
“I was planning on attending Duke but I couldn’t reach out because there’s no film on my games to record and send them, so I have to do what’s best and try to figure out what the scenario is for me and my family’s financial situation,” Malik said.
These students have had their athletic goals shattered. Now their finances are also at risk.
“I was hoping to get athletic scholarships to help with that, ease up on the payments, and I also got some academic scholarships but it just doesn’t cover enough,” said senior volleyball player Mia Miljanic.
The pandemic has forced the NCAA to cut, suspend and even drop sports programs across the country, which means less athletic scholarships available to students.
“It’s so upsetting that we can’t even do anything to help ourselves get into a college for our athletic ability,” said senior volleyball player Brianna Riccardi.
“They wanted to live out their dreams and because of the lack of play they have nothing, and they can’t afford to go to the dream schools,” said Danielle Johnson, the assistant athletic director, teacher and alumna of St. Edmund Prep.
Johnson says even if scholarships were available, her students would have nothing to show for the second half of their high school sports careers.
“When you do film for colleges they want to see you in game situations, how you communicate with your teammates on the court. So the fact that we have no games, no tournaments I have nothing to show for that,” Mia said.
For Mia, everything was riding on her plan to play volleyball in college.
“Pace, that’s been my dream school since sophomore year,” she said. “I didn’t even apply.”
The Catholic High School Athletic Association started an online petition begging the Department of Health (DOH) and New York City to let the kids play.
“They’re staying fit, they are in school and what reward are we giving them? Nothing,” said Danielle Johnson.
The students say they’ll continue to hold out hope of getting an athletic scholarship, even if it’s a long shot.