by Andrew McCulloch
In recent years, unparalleled athletic success has been a highlight of the school.
A record number of student athletes moved on and continue their athletic careers at the next level of competition.
Five former standouts from last year’s senior class are making strides on the field as they continue to represent Eagle athletics.
Peter Foreman committed to the New Mexico State University Aggies last year.
Former football star Miles Lerch has taken his talents to San Antonio to play for the University of Texas – San Antonio Roadrunners. He walked on to the team and is redshirting his freshman year.
Jonathon Cohen is now playing defensive end at the University of Washington in St. Louis.
Austin Fairchild, former baseball ace, signed with the Kansas City Royals after being drafted in round 16 of last year’s Major League Baseball draft.
And finally, former star running back Derek Martin committed to play for Division III powerhouse Mount Union in Alliance, Oh.
All of these athletes were stars on the field at STH, leading their respective teams to new heights.
With the move up to collegiate and professional athletics comes an increase in competition. With a higher quality of play, new obstacles arise that were not present at the high school level.
“The biggest difference would have to be speed and size,” Lerch said. “Think about the fact that almost all the players were all-state in high school and played in all-star games as well.”
Martin is confronting other obstacles though.
After starting for three years on varsity in high school, Martin is finding that he now has to battle his teammates for valued playing time.
“The biggest difference I’d have to say is the intensity of practice and competition for playing time,” Martin said. “Everyone is good so you have to really stand out to earn your spot.”
Fairchild is in a unique situation compared to his former classmates in that he now competes with the best talent in the world.
“The biggest difference from playing baseball at St. Thomas is that in high school most teams had one or two good players. Now I’m playing against the best players from across the world,” Fairchild said.
College athletics are more serious than those of high school and require a new level of focus and dedication. Also, college brings academics that can create difficult obstacles to overcome.
“The greatest challenge would have to be balancing my schedule. Mom and dad aren’t around to help as much as before,” Foreman said.
Social adjustments, too, are another part of the college transition.
“One of the greatest challenges so far has been adjusting to Wash U not only academically but socially,” Cohen said. “Wash U attracts a very diverse range of students. It is very different not only coming from the south but also coming from a school like St. Thomas.”
Fairchild is in a different boat altogether. He not only had to adjust to the world of professional baseball had to do so incredibly quickly. Constant travel and high pressure can crack even the most resilient people.
“I’m slowly adjusting to the next level. Dealing with the culture shock of playing with players who don’t know any English and trying to communicate is difficult,” Fairchild said. “Living in hotels for months on end is a little rough but when you’re surrounded by guys who have the same aspirations it makes it a little bit easier.”
There are a great deal of obstacles facing these former Eagles, but all are conquering them in their own way.
“At first, it seemed like too much for me, but with the help of my coaches I’m developing faster and faster,” Foreman said. “Constant reps are also helping me adjust to a college level of play.”
For Cohen, hard work paid off in the form of playing time.
“When I came to Wash U for camp on Aug. 9 and throughout camp I really wasn’t expecting to get a lot of playing time,” Cohen said. “But because of some injuries I was able to get some playing time and I made some plays when I got in so since then I’ve been getting solid playing time.”
Even with their individual athletic gifts and talents, none of the athletes have forgotten their roots.
“St. Thomas helped me both in class and on the field,” Martin said. “In school I found that the workload in class is no worse than anything given at St. Thomas, and on the field St. Thomas taught me ‘hard work pays off’ and it truly does.”
All five of these athletes have big expectations and will have the entire Eagle community backing them as they continue to represent the school on the field, in the classroom and throughout their other pursuits.