Hackley Athletes Prepare to Play in College

Catie O’Rourke is deciding what to do with the ball as she travels down the field. She is maneuvering herself around a King field hockey player. She will be playing field hockey next year at Skidmore College.

The Dial spoke to senior athletes Elizabeth Rudge, Ethan Ohm, and Catie O’Rourke to learn more about the athletic recruiting process.

Senior Elizabeth Rudge is committed to playing lacrosse at Hamilton College. Hamilton is a Division III college located in Clinton, New York.

Regarding her decision to play lacrosse at the collegiate level, Rudge said, “It was always something I wanted to do since I was little, and coming through the club world it is kind of expected that you are going to play.”

Over the years Elizabeth has been a defender for her club lacrosse team, Prime Time Lacrosse. Her club team finishes during junior summer, so this past summer was the last time she was able to play alongside her Primetime teammates – some of whom she has been with since sixth grade or when she was five years old.

In the last few years, she has been incredibly busy due to the large amount of traveling her club team undergoes. During the past two summers, she has been playing in five different tournaments spanning across different states, and in between that time she has been attending events for showcases. She remarks that one week this year she was in Pennsylvania on Saturday and Sunday, then Connecticut on Monday and Tuesday, Massachusetts on Wednesday and Thursday, and finally she went to New Jersey on Thursday and Friday.

She finds this schedule to be “very chaotic” and this craziness transcends to the fall season. “The fall is the same because three fall weekends in a row in November I was gone, and I was in Texas during Thanksgiving finals week last year”, she said.

She also plays lacrosse at Hackley with coaches Jenny Leffler and Melissa Stanek. Last year the lacrosse team went undefeated in the Ivy League and were NYSAIS champions. Ms. Leffler is also her advisor who has not only helped her throughout the recruiting process but has also provided her moral support when heading down this path. Ms. Stanek has also been a great support system for her and both coaches have placed several lacrosse players in Division III schools.

Elizabeth is not only a talented lacrosse player but she also likes to play soccer. She mentions that she “was forced to make a choice by coaches in choosing to either play high-level lacrosse or high-level soccer”. Ultimately, she decided to pursue lacrosse since she felt stronger in that sport and loved the great atmosphere of her team.

Taking a step back, she started the recruiting process in freshman year and decided from an early age that she did not want to play Division I lacrosse due to its high intensity. Her parents also attended small Division III schools and her mom played two sports in college. She wanted to seek out this environment and culture as opposed to some of her friends who are playing at large Division I schools.

During freshman year she started to reach out to college coaches and attended different clinics. She went to multiple clinics where Hamilton was present and they visited different showcases like Lacrosse Masters and Rev Showcases.

She was never able to attend a Hamilton College camp because of Covid so she visited campus for the first time in March and was able to confirm it was the right choice.

“I really loved Hamilton; I basically took an admissions tour and then had a conversation with the coach,” she said.

On a different college tour that she took during spring break, she was able to go to classes with the players. Her mother joked that she went to Hamilton in March and it’s dreary during that time of year so if she liked campus then she would like it all year.

This holds true and once she arrives on Hamilton’s campus next fall, she is planning on majoring in political science or history.

Senior Ethan Ohm is committed to playing Division III tennis at Amherst College, located in a town in Massachusetts.

Ethan has been playing tennis since the age of four and started playing competitively at age ten. “My parents have always pushed me to keep getting better and I really like the sport so recruitment came with that,” Ethan said.

When Ethan started playing tournaments at age ten, he played locally in different areas of Westchester County, the Bronx, New York City, and New Jersey. At age 14 he started to train for local tournaments and later on he even traveled overseas.

“Recruitment came on my radar around freshman year so that’s when I started to take things really seriously,” he said. By the time sophomore year summer came around he began to reach out to different college coaches – mainly Division I and a few Division III schools. Amherst was a school he reached out to further along his recruitment process.

When choosing between colleges, he prioritized academics over tennis. He very much enjoys playing tennis but ultimately “tennis was used to serve as an advantage in the application process where I could get into a school I couldn’t get into normally,” he said. He also liked the appeal of Amherst’s open curriculum, the team, and the campus itself so “everything seemed to click,” he said.

Over the course of his recruitment process he not only received help from Hackley coaches but he also hired an organization. Looking ahead, Ethan is planning to become a pre-med major because that is a path he has always wanted to follow. However, his major may change since Amherst is a liberal arts college which allows him to be able to pivot and forge new academic interests.

Senior Catie O’Rourke is committed to play field hockey at Skidmore College. Skidmore is located in Saratoga Springs, New York and is a Division III school.

Catie really started to play field hockey in her freshman year at Hackley and picked up a stick in gym class while she was at her old middle school. “Once I made varsity freshman year I started to take field hockey more seriously,” Catie said. To do so, she started to play for her club team, Rye Field Hockey Academy. Her dad started to push her to pursue field hockey in college and she thought she could play, too, so she started to begin the recruitment process.

The way she started the recruiting process was through attending showcases. She added, “I knew I didn’t want to go Division I so I stuck to Division III showcases.” She did not want to attend a Division I school due to the intense time commitment since Division III schools still require a high level of commitment from its players. Her Division III showcases that she attended were in Boston, Ohio, New York, and other states which were all independent of her club team. Her tournaments for her club team were all over since different colleges like Columbia University and University of Massachusetts would host several club teams to compete, allowing them to also view the competition.

College coaches tended to reach out to her more than her reaching out to them because she thought that “if they wanted me I’d be more interested in going there.”

When it came time to decide which college she would commit to, for a long time she was going back and forth between colleges and weighing her options. In the end she chose Skidmore because of its environment, the team, and the people she would be playing alongside. Furthermore, aesthetics play a large role in looking at colleges and a problem she faced was, “I could see myself anywhere but that didn’t always mean I would click with the people more.” So when she met the field hockey team at Skidmore she clicked with all of the girls making that school really stand out to her.

As she was going through the recruiting process she tended to be more independent. But Coach Jenny Leffler, who is also the coach of Hackley’s field hockey team, helped her whenever she needed support.

When she arrives on campus next fall she is planning on majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology.