Trio of standout Spartans to play in college
By Dan Karpiel
Photo by Dan Megenhardt – Three Berthoud High students signed letters of intent last Monday. Left to right: Jessa Megenhardt to Seattle University (volleyball), Josh Schumacher to Knox College (golf) and Josh Archer to Belmont University (baseball).
Those things worth having are worth fighting for.
Each in their own way, the trio of Berthoud High athletes who signed their national letters of intent at a ceremony at the school on Monday, learned that valuable life lesson. Through the competition, application, recruitment, and decision-making process, Josh Archer, Jessa Megenhardt and Josh Schumacher overcame obstacles, powered through adversity, dealt with disappointment and, when all was said and done and pen put to paper, discovered strengths they did not know they possessed.
For Archer, who will play Division One baseball for Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., and pursue a course of study in pre-med, a devastating knee injury he suffered last summer cast doubt on whether he would be able to pursue his life-long dream of playing collegiately.
“When they told me my ACL was torn I kind of had a big shock moment of like ‘whoa this just cannot happen, I cannot afford this right now,’” Archer explained. “I had a lot of doubt and I was really pretty scared at that moment of if I’d be able to play in college and even if I would make it back to play in high school, because it’s a major injury.”
Archer explained he overcame his initial feelings of devastation after his father put things starkly – he could either quit or put in the work and get through it. “So I thought about it and I think complained for about another five minutes and then was like ‘I’d rather just work hard and get back out there,’ he said. “I had a huge support team, my family and my faith, and I treated it as just a minor set-back and said I’ll overcome it.”
Megenhardt, who in four years on the varsity volleyball squad has earned a list of accolades a mile long, was thrown a curve when her initial choice of colleges decided on another player. After grappling with feelings of disappointment, Megenhardt steeled herself and would later discover her first choice was ultimately not her best choice.
“I have more perseverance than I thought I did. After the let-down with Point Loma, I thought that was my dream school and I thought ‘well, now where am I going to go?’ But I kept fighting, kept pushing, kept looking at other schools, and I just learned I was stronger than I thought,” Megenhardt said. The school she ultimately chose, Seattle University, was where she was supposed to be all along. “I went through a few let-downs but ultimately I ended up where I was supposed to be. I lost one school but I gained a better school; everything happens for a reason,” she explained.
Each of the three remarked not only on the difficulties they faced and the obstacles they were able to overcome, but also on the lessons they learned and how they are applicable to so many other areas of life. As Schumacher, who will play golf for Knox College in Illinois, explained, “I’ve been able to keep going through anything. If I have a bad shot I’ve learned to recover and now even when, like say, taking a test, if I’m not doing so well in the beginning I can still do the best I can through the rest and get an okay score.”
As a natural athlete who also plays baseball for Berthoud, Schumacher said the biggest challenges were “definitely mental.” Golf, where fractions of inches can result in errors measuring hundreds of feet, may be perhaps the most mentally taxing of sport,s given the shot-to-shot grind and miniscule margin of error.
The internal fortitude Schumacher said he developed on the links will serve the incoming mathematics major well; whether he is solving differential equations or adapting to being more than a thousand miles from home. “How I have been raised has really helped. My parents have helped me a lot with my academics and really with everything,” he explained.
Archer has been playing baseball since early in elementary school where he was given the nickname “G” from his first grade coach. Articulate as they come, Archer remarked, “Baseball has taught me almost every lesson I’ve learned about sacrifice and hard work and, especially with the knee, about the importance of never taking anything for granted.”
He continued, “I really felt like I was just on top of the world, I had everything right before the knee happened, and then it seemed like my whole world was kind of gone. It really taught me to refocus and know that some things are temporary and some stay, like family and faith. But if you work hard you can really overcome anything.”
“It’s really taught me about discipline, about being there for your teammates, about being there for other people,” Megenhardt said. “A huge thing is communication. That’s going to help me throughout my whole life, and as a captain of the volleyball team you really have to learn to do that.”
It is not the ability to hit a golf ball 300 yards, throw a baseball 90 miles-per-hour, or know where all 12 volleyball players are on a court at every moment of a match, that even these three elite athletes will benefit most from their high school sports careers. It is the intangibles – the mental strength, the leadership traits, and the courage in the face of adversity – that will be of greatest aide as each traverses the roads that lie ahead.
As Megenhardt said, “By playing sports, being in athletics, that is going to teach you more than anything you could possibly imagine.”
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