Defying the odds: ETHS boasts ten Division I commits

Ben Easington jukes a defender. He will attend USC next fall.

Ben Easington jukes a defender. He will attend USC next fall.

Only about two percent of high school athletes nation wide reach division one college athletics, but this year ETHS is proud to sport ten division one commits in eight different sports.

Since 2008, the average ETHS DI class has included an average of just over six athletes. The number of commits and the variety of sports sets this class apart from other classes. The commitment and talent exhibited by these student-athletes has earned each of them a chance to continue their athletic career at the highest level of college athletics.


Maia Cella, Soccer

Maia Cella will continue playing soccer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While Cella made a college decision early in her high school career, it was still difficult.

“I made my decision on which program I was going to play for around my sophomore year, but the process started when I was in seventh or eighth grade,” Cella said. “Making a decision was extremely hard because I had options and didn’t want to make the wrong choice.”

Now having made and lived with her decision for two years, she recognizes why she chose Wisconsin.

“The overall team chemistry felt like a family when I visited,” Cella said. “The coach was approachable, and I felt comfortable in Madison.”

Cella knows that despite committing early, continuing her high level of play is a must.

“I’ve always tried to work my hardest and give everything I have on the field,” she said. “I want to prove to myself and others why I got recruited by a program as strong as Wisconsin’s.”

Cella is determined to put forth everything she can to help the team succeed on and off the field.


Bradford Garron, Track and Field

Bradford Garron has run his way into a spot on the University of Iowa track and field team. Despite making a decision on college, Garron has refused to slack off in his play.

“During this season I have felt less outside pressure to perform well,” Garron said. “But my desire to perform well has increased dramatically.”

Garron stays driven by competing against himself.

“I want to find my own limits,” he said.

Garron is proud to have made his college decision.

“Realizing you are one athlete out of an entire country trying to find colleges can be overwhelming,” Garron said. “I didn’t know where to start. When I finally decided on a school it gave me a lot of pride.”

Bradford Garron sprints to the finish line. Next year, he will be sprinting for the University of Iowa track team.

Leighah Amori-Wool, Basketball

Leighah Amori-Wool will be taking her basketball talents to Western Michigan. After a long recruitment process, she is glad to have made a decision.

“It’s hard to make a life decision at 17 or 18,” Wool said. “It’s kind of like signing your life away, but once you’re committed there is a mental and physical stress lifted off your shoulders.”

Wool took the time to weigh the importance of having an established coach against having opportunity at their position or having the right majors academically. She found the right balance at Western Michigan.


Ben Easington, Football

Ben Easington’s path to the University of Southern California has been a unique one. After running for over 1300 yards and 13 touchdowns in his first season at running back last season, Easington received interest from several Division III football programs and planned to attend Miami of Ohio before he received interest from USC.

“I got a direct message from a USC recruiter on Twitter who asked how my process was going,” Easington said. “I told him I had applied to some DIII schools and he asked me to apply to USC, asking if I’d be okay with being a preferred walk on in the spring of 2018.”

Now, aftering being accepted in April, Easington is able to focus on his academic goals as he prepares for football next spring.

“I want to focus on my major, human biology with a pre-med emphasis, for my first semester,” he said. “I want to have a great first semester in college and then worry about having success in football.”


Riley Hughes, Water Polo

            Hughes will be attending Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Brown competes in the Ivy League, known for it’s top-notch academic institutions that caught her eye.

“Junior year, I emailed the coach and expressed my interest in Brown. Brown’s curriculum is open and student-driven and that excited me,” Hughes said.

Only starting her water polo career freshman year, Hughes sought out to learn as much as she could about the sport.

“Riley is a really good example of coming into high school with no experience in water polo and dedicating herself starting sophomore year. You don’t need to be a varsity starter as a sophomore, but committing yourselves to offseason workouts can bring lots of success,” said water polo head coach Andy Miner.

Hughes was fortunate to have spent her four years of high school at ETHS and she thinks it’s set her on the right track for the future.

“I think it’s really cool that the school ensures athletes are student-athletes. That has really prepared me for college,” Hughes said.

Riley Hughes signs her commitment papers to Brown University



Emma Stein, Water Polo

            Stein will be taking her talents to the City of Brotherly Love. She will be attending Villanova University, which competes in the Big East Conference. She didn’t know much about the school until the coach reached out to her.

“I picked Villanova because I really liked the size of the school and the proximity to a big city. I heard about it through people I had played with in the past who went there and they loved it,” Stein said.

Stein, similarly to Hughes, wasn’t a standout coming into high school, but her hard work throughout high school has paid off.

After visiting Villanova, it immediately became her number one school over Indiana University, who she was also getting recruited by.

“In the end I choose Villanova because I loved the school but I also could see myself a part of the team and really having fun with the girls on the team and a good experience with the coach,” Stein said.


Tessa Otting, Rowing

Otting will become a Cavalier next year at the University of Virginia. After receiving strong interest from several schools, she took her official visit to UVA and fell in love.

“I chose UVA because it is really good school for academics and athletics and I really liked the team and the coaches there. Out of all the schools I looked at I felt most comfortable there,” Otting said.

While ETHS doesn’t have a rowing team, she has rowed for a club called the Chicago Rowing Foundation throughout high school.

“Even though there is no rowing team at ETHS, I’m definitely proud that I’ll graduate from here. Not many ETHS students go to UVA, so I’ll be honored to represent us there,” Otting said.


Nojel Eastern, Basketball

Already well-known to much of the Evanston community, Nojel Eastern will continue his basketball career at Purdue University.

Eastern had been under the watchful eye of college coaches from the day he got to ETHS four years ago. He played four years on varsity, and started in most of those games. He set a school record as the only player in history with at least 1,300 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists.

His performance on the court and his composure off of it made him an attractive prospect to college coaches. He ended up with offers from DePaul, Michigan State, Ohio State, Seton Hall and Purdue, eventually signing with Purdue on Nov. 16 of last year.

“I chose Purdue because it was close to home, and I want to leave a legacy there,” Eastern said. “Also part of what swayed me was that the coaches were consistent with me and I felt at home when I visited.”

Eastern is also excited about representing ETHS and its surrounding community at the highest level of college athletics. “It’s an amazing feeling,” Eastern said. “I wouldn’t want to do it at any other place.”

Nojel Eastern has helped ETHS win many basketball games over his illustrious high school career. Next fall, he’ll look to do the same for Purdue University.

Turner Dobbs, Diving

Turner Dobbs will travel to Colorado next fall to continue diving at the University of Denver. For him, Denver was a good fit for diving as well as the pursuit of his academic interests.

“I chose Denver because I really like the coach and the team as well as the School of Business,” Dobbs said. “I plan on majoring in Accounting and when I visited the school it just really stood out as the place I wanted to be.”

As he makes his way out of Evanston, Dobbs will take with him some valuable experiences, but it will also be hard to move on from those same experiences.

“I want to represent Evanston and all the things I gained from it in everything I do going forward,” said Dobbs. “But I’ll miss the team the most. I enjoyed every minute with them all four years and I will definitely be missing it next year when my season starts with a whole new team.”


Lauren Demaria, Soccer

Lauren Demaria is excited to continue her soccer career at Western Illinois University. She played three years on varsity at ETHS, but the entirety of her junior year was spent traveling to showcases each weekend to get on the radar screen of college coaches.

Demaria admits that this process was pretty stressful and tiring, but she knew she wanted to play in college. At first, she was only getting looks from D2 and D3 schools that would be a reach academically, so she was struggling to find the right fit.

But eventually she attended a camp at Western Illinois University, and that all changed.

“After the camp I was really excited about potentially playing there because it was a perfect fit for me,” Demaria said. “Their soccer team was at a high level that I could keep up with and I bonded with the coach right away, which was the main reason I wanted to play there.”

Lauren Demaria will play soccer at Western Illinois University next year. Photo courtesy of Varsity Views.