Road to Success: Division One Athletes Discuss the Path They Took

For most athletes, the dream of competing for their favorite college team’s starts at a young age. Whether its playing rec league or practicing in the front yard, the will to be great is there. Natural talent is a factor for most, but every college-level athlete has worked and put in countless hours to achieve their childhood dreams. On Nov. 13, Dripping Springs High School held its National Signing Day, and many students signed their letters of intent for their bright futures. 

Zach Tjelmeland:

Tjelmeland is a pitcher and a third baseman for the varsity baseball team. After receiving interest from schools like Baylor, Rice, and Stanford, Tjelmeland chose to attend University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Despite being a smaller school,“‘UTRGV’ has tons of assets for me and my family,” Tjelmeland said, “I should see the field freshman year, and my tuition is completely paid for.”

UTRGV may not be a household name but the potential that this team possesses is unparalleled.

“[UTRGV] was only a couple of wins away from the tournament last year, and a lot of their seniors and juniors are getting pro baseball buzz,” Tjelmeland said.

Other than immediate playing time and free tuition, UTRGV possesses many other assets that intrigued Tjelmeland.

“[UTRGV] has these really cool condos by the university that are just for the athletes, [it includes] a swimming pool, training facilities, and a lot of places to eat,” Tjelmeland said.

For his parents, commiting to UTRGV was a bit of a shock, but with signing day behind Tjelmeland, they couldn’t be more proud of their son.

“When Zach told me that he was committing to UTRGV I was very surprised, but after … weighing the options, we agreed with him in saying that this was his best option for his future,” Zach’s father, Matt Tjelmeland said. 

Danny Henry:

For Danny Henry, the state-wide attributed swimmer, deciding between colleges was very simple.

“I was fielding offers for a couple of months, but when [Texas Christian University] offered me, I knew it was meant to be,” Henry said.

TCU is known for their athletic department, the football team is constantly contending, and the basketball team is known for their tournament appearances, but one sport that is constantly left out of the conversation is swimming and Henry intends to change that.

“Nobody talks about TCU Swimming, let alone swimming in general,” Henry said, “One of my main goals is to put TCU swimming on the map, and give the sport the recognition it deserves.”

Henry also talked about the level of competition that Big 12 athletics bring.

“It’s going to be a big change, going from high school athletics to the Big 12, but I honestly can’t wait for it, the venues will be bigger, the lights will be brighter, and I feel like I’m going to fit in just fine,” Henry said.

Despite the future being just ahead, Henry won’t forget what Dripping Springs High School did for him in his development.

“At the end of the day, I wouldn’t be here without [Dripping Springs High School], from the coaches and teammates that I’ve had to everything that I’ve learned in school,” Henry said, “Nothing could get me as ready as the community that I grew up in.”

By Rigley Willis, Sports Editor

Featured photo by Cady Russell

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