The journey: three student athletes look ahead


Photos provided by Bell, Farragher.

From right, seniors DeVaughn Bell, Rileigh Farragher, Kayla Henning.

Jake Kaufman, Staff Writer

Devaughn Bell, Trinity International University

For as long as he can remember, football has been a major part of ETHS senior and TIU football commit Devaughn Bell’s life. He began playing in second grade when he was at Kingsley Elementary School. He immediately fell in love with the game and dreamed of getting to someday play football in college. He decided that in order for that to happen, he would have to focus strictly on sports and academics throughout all of high school. This mindset propelled him, and he would advise this idea to future student athletes hoping to make it to the next level.

 “I would tell other student athletes to focus on school first then sports because you can’t play sports without the grades. There are definitely some sacrifices involved, but in the end it is worth it,” Bell explained. “I would tell the kids to just work as hard as you can and do as much as you can to show the coaches you’ve come to work.”

There were a few challenges for Bell in his athletic journey. First, football wasn’t his only sport. He played on the Evanston basketball team all four years as well. The second challenge was that he suffered a number of different injuries during his time playing football. In only his second year of playing, he broke his ankle during a practice. He suffered a concussion his junior year right before the team’s home playoff game and wasn’t able to play. Not being able to play lit a fire in him that made him determined to work harder than he had ever worked before. Two days before his Senior Night, another devastating injury occured when he rolled his ankle badly. Devaughn decided to play through the pain because of how important Senior Night was to him. 

When looking into colleges, his first priority was finding a place that would allow him to continue his football journey. He also wanted to major in psychology, which meant finding a school that also had a good program for that. Trinity University checked both those boxes for him and then some. 

“The coaching staff made me feel at home and the school is a great school for my major. It’s also close to home, and also has a decent football program that I hope will allow me to be the best player and teammate I can be,” Bell said. 

Bell said his favorite moment in his football career thus far occurred in a game against Glenbrook South where he scored the game-winning touchdown on a fake play that was executed perfectly. 

In addition to playing, Bell is an all-around football fan in general. He loves watching college, the NFL, other high school games, and really looks up to Lamar Jackson because of how overlooked he has been throughout his career and how he has rised above all expectations. 

Bell also learned from football outside  the game as he feels that it has just made him a better person and leader.  He wanted to shoutout a few special people who helped him during his journey. 

“Coach Stacey, Coach A, and Coach Nance have all been amazing throughout my whole life and have helped me so much with staying focused on the right path.”

Playing college football is definitely not easy, but it is clear that Bell is up for the challenge. 

Rileigh Farragher, Tufts University

Tufts volleyball commit Rileigh Farragher’s first moments with the game came when she was in fourth grade, playing on her school’s team. What started off as several friends messing around seeing who could slide the farthest on their knee pads, ended up becoming a passion that has continued to be a major part of Farragher’s life. She knew early on that she wanted to play volleyball in college and started her recruitment process during her sophomore year. 

“I talked to my club coaches who helped me figure out what kind of schools and volleyball programs would be a good match for me, then did a ton of research, and started reaching out to schools,” Farragher said when asked who helped her begin the complicated process that is college recruitment. 

During her junior year, Farragher started looking into possible schools for her future. She eventually narrowed it down to three places: Brown, New York University and Tufts. She recognized early on that Tufts stood out to her. 

What made Tufts stand out specifically was its location, being super close to Boston, but still having its own campus, how competitive the team was, the opportunity to study abroad, and most of all the people.”

Farragher also loved seeing the passion and determination of the team’s coaches. 

When looking back on her volleyball career so far, a few moments really stood out to her. Her favorite high school moment was when her club team (Division 1) finished third place at nationals last year.

Nationals is a huge tournament and it’s four days long, so by the end, you are just physically and mentally exhausted, but getting to go to the awards ceremony on the last day and get our trophy was amazing.”

Her senior year on the team was one of the most challenging of her career. She and several of her teammates had to switch their long time positions for new ones that they didn’t have the most  prior experience playing. While she didn’t love that experience, she did her best to take a positive from it.

 “Although I still don’t think these decisions were the most beneficial ones, it taught me how to adjust quickly and how to perform well in new situations.”

Aside from playing, Farragher is just a fan of volleyball as a whole. She loves watching college and the U.S Women’s teams during the Olympics, and her favorite player to watch is current setter for the national team, Lauren Carlini. 

In addition to playing volleyball at Tufts, Farragher will also be studying biopsychology and plans to study abroad at some point during her time in college. 

Kayla Henning, American University

ETHS senior and American University Kayla Henning’s basketball journey is a powerful story of hard work and success overcoming adversity. 

While she first started playing in the playground in elementary school, it wasn’t until sixth grade that she joined her school team as well as her first AAU team. She then became incredibly immersed with the game, spending hours watching basketball in addition to playing and she eventually hoped she would be able to play basketball in college. Henning believed that if she worked hard enough, she would be able to continue playing basketball after high school. 

Playing on varsity for all four years, Henning was a major reason the Kits won the CSL-South conference, something the Evanston hadn’t done since the 80s. They ended up doing that all four years of Henning’s career, also being named CSL player of the year this past season, something she was proud of for the entire team, not just herself. 

“The award means a lot to me, but I also think it means a lot to the team.” Henning said. “I think that we’ve had some Evanston players make great cases for CSL player of the year, but they didn’t get it. So for me when I won it, it wasn’t just Kayla Henning wins CSL player of the year, it was also an Evanston player finally got the recognition that they deserved, so that was really big to me.”

Her favorite moment with ETHS was when they won the Montini Christmas tournament during her senior year following second round eliminations the past two seasons. 

“We kept getting there and got close multiple years in a row, so it was great to finally break through and come on on top,” Henning said. 

While Henning had a lot of success on the court, it did definitely not come without major obstacles. At the end of her sophomore season, she tore her ACL but miraculously returned for the start of her junior year. However, when she got back at first, there were still some lingering issues from the injury. 

“I think more people need to realize that even if you come back from an ACL injury, you are a different player for a while so your confidence takes a hit so it is as much a mental battle as it is a physical one, so I’m very proud I was able to come back from it,” Henning explained. 

While Henning has been so successful on the court, she has put just as much if not more pride in being on top of her academics. When she started looking for schools, she wanted to make sure that the school had a good social justice program in addition to being able to play basketball. That is what led her American University. 

“ It is a school I would go to regardless of basketball. Having the basketball opportunity made it even better, the coaching staff was amazing,” Henning said. “Although I wasn’t able to go to campus in person they were able to give me a virtual campus tour through zoom, and I really think I will be able to fit in well with the style of play they have there, which is a lot of reads, requiring a high IQ to play in it, so that was just a cherry on the top for sure.”