Two South Western High seniors with definite career goals made their collegiate intentions clear on Friday night in the high school library.
For Sydney Szparaga, her acceptance of a women's lacrosse scholarship from Siena University will be her ticket to a career apart from sports.
However, for Parker Bean, his scholarship to Liberty University opens his path to a potential career in his chosen sport, baseball.
"A lot of people ask me that," Bean said about his choice of the conservative Christian school in Virginia. "Really, it has every single thing I was looking for facility-wise. I had visited several campuses and Liberty had top-notch facilities."
Bean added the university also has a proven track record of not only winning games, but also producing players drafted by Major League Baseball organizations.
"They bring players in and develop them, which is huge for me," Bean, who hopes to both pitch and play in the field for the Flames, said.
Likewise, Szparaga said her chosen school also develops its students, but she was seeking a different avenue.
Siena's reputation in pre-law curriculum attracted her to the Albany, N.Y., university, but a visit with the lacrosse coach and team sealed her decision among five possibilities.
The others, all determined because of their pre-law schools, were Georgetown, Hobart, Thiel and Columbia.
"I like to argue," she said of her interest in law. "I love it. I love public speaking and I love defending people and I love defending a point. I just enjoy it."
In fact, Szparaga said defense will be her likely role as a lacrosse player at Siena as well. Though her midfield position at South Western has produced 131 goals and 30 assists over the past three seasons, she said she has been a defender at the club level and has grown to enjoy that position.
Bean's future with Liberty is more uncertain. First, there is the possibility he could be drafted after his senior baseball season at South Western. He would then face a decision of whether to go to Liberty or choose the professional ranks immediately.
"The draft program is now all slotted with money," Bean said. "Most teams want to know a definite commitment before they draft you because, if they draft you and you don't sign, they lose the money that was slotted to them for that pick.
"It really depends on where I would fall in the draft. I have been in contact with some major league teams and hopefully that will continue over the winter."
In the meantime, Bean said he has gained 15 pounds and his fastball has hit 91 mph over the summer, improvements which he plans to continue even as he completes his senior basketball season with the Mustangs.
Likewise, Szparaga sees little room to relax now that her own college future is set. In fact, she said, it will motivate her to work even harder.
"I'll definitely will be doing my college workouts and I'll be training really, really hard," she said.
However, there's little doubt that the decision has settled one key question for each.
"I've still got to be focused in the classroom and stuff, and I'm doing that," Bean said about the approaching end of his high school days, "But senior-itis is in. I think it's in for a lot of kids too."
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