Transition to college from high school can be hard

Mesa St RB Zach Adair.

During the 2009 boys basketball season, Grand Junction High School’s Everett Robinson was unstoppable.

Robinson’s versatility was unmatched on the court as he averaged 20 points per game and led the Tigers to the Southwestern League championship. A lot of the 6-foot-4 forward’s success could be chalked up to a comfort level with his teammates and coaches.

Beginning Sunday, when Robinson makes a seven-hour drive to Riverton, Wyo., those teammates and coaches will change. Robinson is one of four incoming freshmen for the Central Wyoming College basketball team.

“I’ve been real excited for this,” Robinson said. “Been waiting for it all summer. I’m ready to start playing and practicing.”

Robinson is one of several local athletes who are attempting to transition into college athletics. Robinson said he’s ready for the difficulty of college sports and has tried to make sure he’s prepared for the jump to college.

“I’ve been shooting and lifting a lot,” Robinson said. “I’ve lifted about 10 times more than I ever have.”

Robinson said he knew it would be in his best interest to put muscle on his tall frame, especially since he will be called upon to do a lot of slashing to the basket for the Rustlers. Robinson has put in the work during his summer in Grand Junction, and said he plans to do the same when he arrives on campus.

“I’m going to come out and work really hard,” Robinson said. “I’m sure it will be weird at first because I’m used to playing with Geoff Baldwin and having Coach (Dutch) Johnson yelling at me.”

One local athlete who’s already been in the rigors of college athletics is former Palisade football player Zach Adair.

The freshman running back signed with Mesa State College and has been working out with the football team since early August. He said the biggest adjustment is the amount of information he is expected to retain.

“The biggest transition has been learning the playbook, because I’m going from this slim playbook that’s all about running downhill to one that’s a wide-open offense,” Adair said.

“Plus, I’ve never had so many meetings in my life, and they are long, too. It’s like 21/2 hours and you are sitting there constantly learning.”

Grand Junction graduate Tyler Palmer is in his freshman football season at Colorado School of Mines, and echoed Adair’s thoughts. The freshmen arrived later than the upperclassmen in Golden, and it’s been challenging to keep up.

“Between the playbook, alignments, pre-snap reads, it’s a lot more mental,” Palmer said. “It’s been a whirlwind.”

Adair said he felt he was physically prepared for the demands of college athletics, but there was no way to anticipate everything involved.

“I expected it to be tough, but there’s no way to prepare for it,” Adair said. “You try and get mentally prepared, but there’s nothing you can do. It’s a different atmosphere.”

Mesa State volleyball coach Dave Fleming is on the other side of things, teaching young athletes. He said the approach to every player is different, but traditionally one of the hardest things for the players to grasp isn’t the play on the court, but the college lifestyle.

“The biggest change is being on their own,” Fleming said, “being away from home, not having Mom cook for them or tell them when to go to bed.”

Fleming added that in a fall sport like volleyball or football, it’s about getting through the first season.

“The most growth we see from them isn’t during the season, because we have 17 days until matches to make minor changes,” Fleming said. “It’s after the season when we can make the major changes.”


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