The transition from playing a sport in high school to suiting up for a college team can be a challenge for student-athletes, especially if they are living away from home for the first time.
Having a familiar face around surely helps high school students adjust to their new surroundings. For an athlete, having a close teammate to rely on also goes a long way.
Two standout senior girls’ varsity soccer players at Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, love their school’s name so much that they are teaming up next fall to continue their careers at Molloy College, Rockville Centre, L.I.
Team captains Danielle Malench and Natalia Piotrowski both agree that Molloy College is the perfect fit for them. The school offers them the opportunity to pursue their academic interests while allowing them to continue playing the sport they love.
Malench, a center midfielder from College Point, played her Catholic Youth Organization sports at St. Luke, Whitestone, while attending Holy Trinity Catholic Academy. She played three years of varsity at Archbishop Molloy and earned a spot on the GCHSAA’s Mayor’s Cup roster this fall.
A native of Flushing, Piotrowski attended and played CYO sports at St. Andrew Avellino Catholic Academy before starring as a center defender on the Stanners varsity squad for the past two seasons. She was named MVP of two tournaments early this fall, but she unfortunately tore ligaments in her ankle, forcing her to miss the rest of the season.
In addition to being teammates in high school at Molloy, Malench and Piotrowski were also teammates outside of school on a club team. It just so happens that the head coach of that team, Steve Price, is the head women’s soccer coach at Molloy College. Having that familiarity will be as important as having each other at the next level.
“We’ve played with each other all the time for the past three years,” Malench said. “We’re very close with soccer and outside of soccer. Now that we’re going to college together, it will be pretty cool.”
“The way we fought together, I haven’t had anything like that on any other club teams I’ve been on,” said Piotrowski, who is working hard this offseason to rehab her injury.
In her 16 seasons leading the Stanners girls’ varsity soccer team, head coach Judy Zink has had numerous players move on to the college game. However, next fall at Molloy College will be the first time two of her players from the same graduating class will be teammates together in college.
Though she is sad to see the talented student-athletes go, Zink said she is extremely proud of them and happy they will be staying somewhat local.
“It will challenge them both as players and academically,” Zink said of her players’ college choice. “The fact that they’re staying local, they’ll have the support of their families close to them. The coaches here also plan to see as many games as we can next year.”
Malench plans to study accounting, and Piotrowski has her sights set on pre-medical studies. The work ethic they exhibited for four years in high school will surely come in handy to keep up with their rigorous academic requirements in college.
The road may have obstacles from time to time, and so having each other will undoubtedly be a blessing both athletes will cherish.
“Going into college, I’m not going to know many people, and I won’t be close with anyone on the team right away,” Malench said. “So I’ll already have someone who I’m close with and know well.”
“Just to have someone from Molloy to carry on into the next step is amazing because whenever I’m having a rough time, I know I can turn to her,” Piotrowski said. “I know that I’ll have her as a close friend and someone I can always rely on.”
As these Stanners soon become Lions, they will take the values they learned in high school at Molloy and build upon them as college athletes…also at Molloy!
Contact Jim Mancari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.