By ROHAN ROY, junior
In addition to its distinguished music programs, successful clubs, and strong academics, JP Stevens is also known for its skillful and accomplished athletes. These students proudly wore their green and gold uniforms, earning themselves something many other high schoolers only dream of receiving: an athletic scholarship. While showcasing their talents in their respective sports, the following athletes have displayed character and passion both on and off the field. We asked three of JP’s best athletes about their college recruitment processes; hopefully, one day we’ll see them achieve greatness on the world playing field.
Kyle Mackiewicz knew the minute he stepped onto the volleyball court that volleyball was going to define his high school experience. As a member of the All-Central First Team and the GMC and Home News Tribune Player of the Year, Mackiewicz has become one of New Jersey’s most dominant volleyball players. With 338 kills last season, he is on track to break an all-time school record. When Pennsylvania State University, which has a top-ranked Division I volleyball college program, asked Mackiewicz to don its legendary blue and white uniform, he quickly accepted the offer. Ever since its inaugural season in 1973, Penn State men’s volleyball has been making history: the university just achieved its record-breaking sixteenth consecutive conference championship and has won a total of 29 championships since 1981. Although it was Kyle’s goal to go to PSU when he first started playing, he found that getting recruited wasn’t easy, despite having made his commitment his sophomore season to a powerhouse college team. Because he changed teams often, it was difficult for the colleges to follow his success. However, his efforts eventually paid off; he states, “As I improved more and more, I realized I had a good chance of making it into PSU. Then, I got in contact with the coaches there, and they offered a trial and scouting combine at a youth national team camp. I committed to them later on.”
JP Stevens tennis has always been one of the most consistent programs in the school and state. Over the past year, Gokul Murugesan has led the Hawks tennis team to an impressive 21-2 record; the team won their third consecutive GMC title and qualified for the Section II Group IV final. Gokul won thirteen matches his sophomore year and fifteen last season as a first singles player against the best tennis athletes around the state. In addition to these accolades, Gokul received spots on the third team All-Group IV list, All-GMC conference team, and All-Red Division team, and helped the Hawks become the sixth ranked team in the state. There is no question as to why Gokul is going to play at the College of New Jersey next year. His inspiration to play at TCNJ comes not only from its tennis program, but also from its excellent biology and pre-med programs. The college recruitment process was simple for Gokul because many coaches from across the country had watched his game highlights and national tournaments. Gokul comments, “The [TCNJ] coach had been following my progress and my results in tournaments for a while, and he had contacted me my junior year. In the beginning of my senior year, I decided to visit the school, and I really liked the atmosphere and the team. Finally, I sat down and talked to the coach and my parents. It seemed like TCNJ was the best option, so I committed.”
In addition to Gokul Murugesan, tennis star Vishal Walia has also impressed many college coaches around the country. Walia has also helped JP Stevens win the last three boys tennis GMC championships, including a second singles title last year against perennial powerhouse East Brunswick. Furthermore, Vishal earned spots on the All-Conference and All Red-Division teams, and even got to the Round of Sixteen in the state tournament. Outside of school, Walia performed very well at tournaments around America. With a 22-6 record against other ranked players in the country, Vishal became a top ten player in the state and top 300 in the nation. Because of his numerous awards, many schools such as Bentley, Carnegie Mellon, and Johns Hopkins were very interested in him. When New York University also showed interest, he explains, “I messaged the coach and he said I would be a great fit. After I met him in person and discussed what I should do, he said that my chances were high with my decent grades and scores.” Once NYU came through with an offer, Vishal quickly committed. He remarks,“It is a very good school for finance and statistics, which is what I want to major in, and the atmosphere of its location influenced my choice.”
Kyle, Gokul, and Vishal are among three of many talented athletes at JP who are looking to continue their careers at the college level. We wish them the best of luck as they transition to a whole new level of competition and proudly don the colors of their new homes.
Featured image from http://www.collegesportsscholarships.com