Two Holy Family Athletes Sign National Letters of Intent
The NCAA estimates the percentage of high school athletes continuing to compete in organized athletics at the D1 or D2 collegiate level to be between 1-2%. Today Jillian Oncay and Carver Kasper added their names to those select few when they signed their National Letters of Intent.
Jillian Oncay signed her National Letter of Intent with the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, to continue her rowing career and fulfill her desire to serve her country. During the presentation, Jillian’s coach from Twin Cities Youth Rowing, Rebecca Newman, shared her observations of Jillian’s college search, “Jillian was recruited by Cornell, UVA,…all these lovely schools, but she kept saying ‘I want to serve my country. I want to go to the Naval Academy.’ After receiving a commitment from UVA, a phenomenal school, she was accepted to USNA.”
Coach Newman went on to describe her reaction when Jillian shared her decision to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, “I was so proud when she told me. Not only because she will row there, but she is going to serve all of us. And that is truly what Jillian is all about. She’s about team. She’s about family, and she’s about country.” (See Coach Newman’s full presentation HERE.)
Following Jillian’s signing, Holy Family Baseball head coach, Bryan DeLorenzo, led Carver Kasper through the signing of his National Letter of Intent to play baseball for Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri. Coach DeLorenzo recalled Carver earning a varsity starting position as a freshman—a unique achievement for the deep-benched Holy Family baseball program. He described Holy Family’s baseball program as “growing stronger since Carver arrived.”
Coach DeLorenzo reminded the audience that the cancellation of the Spring 2020 high school season was not nly difficult for seniors looking forward to completing their high school careers, but for juniors looking to be recognized by college programs as well. Carver didn’t allow that to impede him. This summer, he played baseball in Missouri before returning to Minnesota to play with Holy Family’s summer league team. He helped Holy Family finish the summer league season with an 11-2 record and the Metro Baseball Alliance Tier A Region 2 League title. In closing, DeLorenzo said, “Carver is a great teammate and has always been a pleasure to coach. Both myself and the entire Holy Family baseball program wish you (Carver) good luck at the next level.” (See Coach DeLorenzo’s full presentation HERE.)
The opportunity to continue athletic careers at the college level is a reflection of Jillian and Carver’s work ethics and commitment to improvement. We caught up with the two athletes to learn more about them and their approach to being student-athletes.
Jillian Oncay | U.S. Naval Academy, NLI to join the USNA Women’s Crew
Many people are unfamiliar with rowing/crew teams. Can you describe the sport in 2-3 sentences and what you enjoy about it?
Rowing, also called crew, can be either an individual or team sport. Rowing is very versatile as the boat sizes change from between 1 rower to 8 rowers and two different kinds of rowing, sweeping and sculling. Many people compare it to canoeing; however, rowing is an entire body workout involving the main movements driving from your legs, body, and arms.
Coach Newman described you as one of the top rowers in the country. When did you begin rowing, and what kind of time and effort did you put into improving your skills as a rower?
I started rowing during the winter of my sophomore year, which is common for people to begin during high school. During our time off the water, we focus on our strength and times on rowing machines. It was not until April that I was able to be in a boat on the water. After that spring season, My teammates, coach, and I noticed my varsity level times, strength, and potential. All summer, I spent 4 hours a day practicing on the water and then spent time with a personal trainer lifting. I had to build physical stamina and the mental fortitude to stick to a rigorous training program. I then earned a seat in the top boat (V1), which required rowing workouts to be completed before school and then have practice after school.
What habits do you think have contributed to your success as an athlete and a student?
I believe that staying persistent in your academics and taking your mind off of schoolwork are crucial to juggling a rigorous school schedule and a demanding practice. Using your time efficiently outside of practice and school is a fundamental habit. I also believe that being competitive among your teammates will make your boat or team go faster.
How do you balance being in athletics/activities and school?
Especially in the fall, waking up at 5:30 a.m. to row and having practice after school is challenging, but having a goal to work towards makes the pain worth it. Because I know the school week will be busy, I try to get as much done on the weekends to keep my workload light.
Any advice for a young athlete coming to Holy Family with hopes to continue to compete in college?
If you hope to continue a sport in college, commit to it because the effort you put in as an underclassman will transpire to success as an upperclassman. You must also be proactive in the recruiting process by exposing your success and strength online to coaches.
What do you like best about Holy Family?
One of my favorite parts of Holy Family is the easy-going atmosphere created by the students and faculty.
Anything else you would like to share:
The military aspect of my commitment is very important to me; not only am I committing to row to four years in college but a minimum of 5 years of service after I graduate from college. More students should look into a military academy or ROTC because of the apparent benefits like the military paying for your college tuition and the intangible value of serving your country.
Carver Kasper –Rockhurst University, NLI to play for the Rockhurst University Men’s Baseball program
Planned College Major: Management
Holy Family Activities: Baseball, Football, Student Council, Bible Study, and Robotics.
When did you begin playing baseball, and what associations outside of Holy Family have you played in?
I started playing baseball when I was five years old in my hometown of Millstadt, Illinois. I have played with many teams in that area, including town and school teams. The main teams I have played on throughout my baseball career (outside of Holy Family) are the St. Louis Pirates and the Minnesota Blizzard.
When you think back to your experience playing baseball for Holy Family, what are the best memories that come to mind?
One of my greatest memories is being able to play varsity as a freshman. It also would have to be getting my first hit during that year, which was in the first game. Honestly, the best memories are the people that I have played with over the years.
What habits do you think have contributed to your success as a baseball player?
A habit that contributes to my success is my work ethic because I work to improve my skills. Also, perseverance because baseball is a game of ups and downs, which I have had many.
How do you balance being athletics and school?
It is difficult to do, but I try to stay ahead of things the best I can, so I do not fall behind in school.
Any advice for a young athlete coming to Holy Family with hopes to continue in college?
The best advice I can give is if you work hard to improve your skills every day, you will be rewarded.
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