For most athletes, their time playing sports comes to an end when graduating high school, but a few of them keep their athletic careers going. During lunch on April 27, the Upper School gathered in the Kilpatrick stadium to support fifteen seniors as they sat at tables decorated with the colors of their college and signed the papers committing to play their sport at the next level.
We had the chance to talk to Russell Overly, William Overly, and Brady Rackly regarding their athletic commitments to Denver University, University of Utah, and Georgia Tech.
Growing up, all of these student-athletes played many different sports prior to choosing one to take to the next level. The Overly twins tried almost every sport imaginable and played those sports together until sophomore year when the two went in slightly different directions. They still played lacrosse together, but Russell joined the swim team while William played basketball.
When we asked why they ended up choosing lacrosse, they both expressed their longstanding love of this sport. “With my dad coaching lacrosse while we were growing up, we were always around the Lovett varsity team when we were little,” William said. “I know we looked up to a lot of the guys… like Bailey Taylor and Crosby Matthews, who were some of the older guys that went on to play division one lacrosse.” Russell added that ”I always just liked lacrosse the most, like the fast pace.”
Same as the Overly twins, Brady tried a variety of sports. “I was a big football guy,” he bragged. “I was (also) like a four time champion at NYO basketball… no biggie.” His love for golf–quite a change from football and basketball–began around the age of twelve when he decided to go play golf and instantly fell in love.
All three of these athletes had the goal of playing in college since they started the sport. “It's always been a dream of mine to go play (golf) at Georgia Tech,” Brady told us. Once he started playing golf in 6th grade, he knew he wanted to take it to the next level.
Russell and William also had similar feelings early on in their athletic career. “We just got our 8th-grade letters back that we wrote at the end of our English exam,” Russell told us. “On both of ours, it was like ‘I hope by now you’ve committed… and are going to play on the next level.’”
For Brady, it was clear from the start that he wanted to attend Georgia Tech. He considered the University of Florida, Furman University, and the University of Alabama, but “Tech is always what I’ve been a fan of growing up.” However, golf was not the only deciding factor. “Growing up… I wanted to do engineering, so it’s kinda hard to beat,” he explained.
Russell had a different experience. “I definitely did not think I was going to Denver,” he said. “I set the bar pretty low for myself so I wouldn't be disappointed if something went wrong.” He’s a big Ohio State lacrosse fan, and he remembers watching Denver win against Ohio on the way to the National Championships in 2015 and thinking “Oh… Denver’s really good.” Russell also told us about his connections with the coaches at Denver, and the significance of lacrosse at the school. “It’s the football of Denver,” he told us.
As for William, he knew he could “shift through” the schools that didn't meet all of his expectations, and that led him to the University of Utah. “I had a really good relationship with the coaches,” he told us, and “Utah checked the most boxes.”
But being able to play a sport in college isn't just checking off boxes. The recruitment process is very long and stressful, and people do not know what to expect. It is definitely different for everyone depending on sport, position, coach, etc. The Overly twins had experienced a lot of different processes simply because one was a defensive player and the other was attacking. “Your process is your process,” Russell said. “Don’t base it off of anyone else's.”
Lastly, we asked these soon-to-be college athletes what advice they would give to student-athletes with the goal of playing their sport in college. Russell really emphasized the importance of controlling what you can control and “kind of disregard the things you can't control.”
William advises student athletes to reach out to coaches and show your interest in their school. “It’s like dating,” he explained. “A coach will reach out to you but you also have to reach out and express that you're interested.”
Brady’s advice was even simpler, though not so simple to implement: just “keep grinding.”