Three seniors commit to play college sports

College sports continue to dominate the media and gain public attention, turning the focus onto the young and talented athletes training to reach a larger, more intense field. This generation of athletes is not only talented, but also determined, dedicated, and passionate about their sport. Transitioning from high school to college athletics redefines competitive. For college athletes, commitment and dedication is an essential quality, extending to high school athletes working to train at this level. 

Delea Martins, University of Carolina Track and Field

Delea Martins, senior, is one such athlete who has pushed to make a name for herself within her sport. The state-winning athlete pins her exemplary success in track on her positive mentality.

“The biggest push for me being a successful runner was learning self confidence,” Martins said.

Participating in sports presents a series of challenges and obstacles, so for Martins, thriving in track was attained by confidence and belief.

“Every time I step onto the track I believe I will win no matter who I’m running against,” Martins said. “That mentality has taken me far.”

Track has become a passion and a source of individualism for Martins. Since she was six, it has always been a significant part of her narrative. The origins of her interest in the sport stemmed from her brother who participated in track and ended up running in college.

“Track has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and I’m so grateful that my brother paved the way for me,” Martins said. 

Additionally, Martins described her dad as having the biggest impact on her career. Her father had no knowledge on the subject before Martins discovered her love for running. When it was clear how passionate she was about it, Martin’s father took on the role of learning, researching, and understanding the sport, eventually becoming a track coach. 

“I appreciate that so much because I wouldn’t be the athlete, nor the person I am today without him,” Martins said.

Every time I step onto the track I believe I will win no matter who I’m running against.

— Delea Martins, senior

Given Martin’s skill, she caught the attention of many colleges.

 “I [was] recruited by a bunch of different colleges,” Martins said.

However, her dream was always to attend the University of North Carolina. 

UNC has always been my dream school growing up,” Martins said. “I’m really grateful that I actually got to be accepted and they wanted to recruit me.”

Martins visited the college in order to meet the coaches and her future teammates.

“They have a good track program which is the biggest thing on my list,” Martins said. “Making sure I had a good connection with everyone was really important to me.”

On top of getting to train as part of UNC’s Division 1 team, Martins plans to major in business. 

“I am excited to continue to learn about the things that really interest me on the high level of academics UNC allows for,” Martins said. “I can’t wait to meet new people and start new friendships and [begin] the next chapter of my life.”


Sasha Malinkine, Springfield College Gymnastics

Sasha Malinkine, senior, has displayed unrelenting enthusiasm in the gymnastics community for years. From his childhood dream of participating in the Olympics, to continuing to pursue his sport in college, Malinkine has stayed determined to follow his dream.

Over the past 15 years, Malinkine’s dedication to the sport has been demonstrated through the countless hours of training he puts in.

“I’ve been practicing everyday for 3 hours, and recently, for the past 2 years I’ve included work outside the gym,” Malinkine said.

Malinkine makes a point that succeeding in a sport requires both rigorous training and demanding levels of expectation.

“An athlete has got to stay committed: put in time, put in effort,” Malinkine said. 

It’s clear that entering college through a sport is far more ambitious and physically demanding than the way of a typical student. Malinkine believes that advancing in a sport is based on the athlete’s desire to sacrifice and persevere to become better.

“If you’re going into a sport, don’t [just] go in there for fun because you’re [wasting] other people’s time,” Malinkine said. “Go there for work, not for socializing.”

Malinkine has been recruited by many colleges due to his skill and talent in gymnastics. His ultimate desire was to find a program that aligns with his goals and allows him to continue to grow and improve in his sport. 

“I can’t imagine college without a sport,” Malinkine said.

An athlete has got to stay committed: put in time, put in effort.

— Sasha Malinkine, senior

During the pressure-filled environment of junior year, when colleges were closely watching and evaluating prospective recruits, Malinkine faced a setback.

“Junior year I had three major injuries, so I was out for 3 or 4 months, and I wasn’t able to showcase my skills or showcase myself,” Malinkine said.

Because of his rough year, he began finding it difficult to find universities with gymnastic programs that aligned with him. Luckily, Malinkine was able to discover Springfield. 

“I only found out about Springfield in October,” Malinkine said. “The reason I found out about Springfield was because I wanted to continue pursuing gymnastics.”

Finally Malinkine’s persistence and dedication paid off. He found his perfect fit in Springfield College, where he is now able to continue his gymnastic journey and achieve his dreams.

“I really like Springfield because of the community, and the coaches wanted to do a lot for me,” Malinkine said. 


Elise Jacobs, University of Minnesota Swimming

For many high school athletes, choosing a college to attend and compete for can be a difficult decision. However, for swimmer Elise Jacobs, the choice was clear. Jacobs has been swimming since she was in second grade, and her love for the sport has only grown stronger over the years.

Jacobs attributes her passion for swimming to her father, who introduced her to the sport at a young age. She was drawn to swimming for its unique combination of individuality and camaraderie.

“It’s not necessarily a team sport, but you have such a close net of people around you, and I’ve made some amazing friends from it,” Jacobs said. 

Jacobs has demonstrated dedication to her sport by following a demanding routine to uphold her success. She has swim practice every day for an hour and a half to two hours, and on Mondays and Fridays she has an additional hour of morning practice before school. She also incorporates dryland exercises, which are workouts on land to improve her strength and conditioning.

Jacobs has faced many challenges throughout her swimming career in high school. 

You have such a close net of people around you… I’ve made some amazing friends.

— Elise Jacobs, senior

“Some people may not realize, but in many endurance based sports the training is pretty tough, as well as pushing yourself when you’re exhausted,” Jacobs said. “When you have a lot of school work during the year, that’s a challenge that you have to deal with and grow with.” 

Despite the challenges of being a student athlete, Jacobs believes that her athletic commitments have made her a better student. She explains the struggle of balancing the school workload is difficult to handle at times for athletes. Stating that the growth made from organization helps create a well-rounded student.

The moment that Jacobs realized she could start thinking about her future for swimming more seriously was her freshman year. She states that during the spring of ninth grade, she performed well at one of her meets where she received her first of many national cuts.

In the end, Jacobs’ hard work and dedication paid off as she will be attending the University of Minnesota in the fall. 

“The team is amazing,” Jacobs said. “I love the coaches, the team, and [they] have a really good program for what I want to study.”