The misconception that Milken athletes do not play sports in college is not only discouraging to young athletes in our community, but it is also false. The graduating class of 2012 proved that hard work and determination can propel Milken students from the Hollindar Gymnasium to the highest levels of college sports. Lets take a look and see how they are doing in their respective sports.
A Wildcat football star, Charlie Heller ‘12 led the first ever tackle football team last year to an unforgettable season. His incredible arm took him all the way to Indiana University, a division one contender in the Big 10. On October 6, Heller suited up for the first time as the Hoosiers took on Michigan State at home, a game they lost narrowly 31-27.
Heller said, “It was so surreal running through the tunnel to 50,000 screaming fans. When I was looking over to Michigan state side, I was like, wow, this is actually happening.”
Aside from making his community proud on the field, Charlie is proud to say that he skipped practice to observe Yom Kippur this year. He said his teammates understood; however, they were confused when they found out that Christ was not his savior.
While the experience has been invaluable, Heller recently left the team and looks to transfer to Occidental or Pitzer next season, smaller schools where he can get more playing time.
Two consecutive 40-point performances cemented JJ Friedman’s legacy at Milken as one of the best basketball players the school has seen. Now a member of the Occidental basketball team, Friedman acknowledges that the competition is a new ball game.
“Everyone is bigger, stronger, and faster here. Everyone was a star at their high school, so I have to work extra hard,” Friedman said.
Friedman believes that Milken really helped him gain an edge in his academics over other athletes. He understands that there is an abundance of good athletes competing to play in college, but being academically prepared helped him stand out.
Friedman has already begun the preseason workouts, something that will help him get in top shape for the season. The first time he went through the team workout, he admits he finished last and may have thrown up at the end. He has come a long way though and continues to work hard as he expects to get some playing time when his season starts on October 15th.
Ariella Barry ’12 had a shorter summer than most of her classmates because she began training July 31st to play for the girls UC Davis soccer team. Barry admits that the practices were difficult due to the intense heat and the rigorous two-a-day schedule, but she was not alone. This year’s team consists of 15 incoming freshman, a high number that has made it easy for Barry to make friends on the team.
Unfortunately, Barry has had some early injuries that has kept her out of the action and made her consider red-shirting her freshman season. This would prevent her from playing this season, but would allow her an additional four seasons of eligibility.
The team began the season 2-1 and is just a game back of first place. For Barry, she feels that her hard work in high school paid off.
She said, “It is really cool to be an athlete. I feel proud when everyone is looking at me and I feel like I am part of a family. “