At this time of year, The Press takes the opportunity to catch up with student-athletes from our coverage area who have continued their athletic careers in college. This week, we spoke with Hampton Bays graduates Kevin Quintero and Lukasz Sokol, and Westhampton Beach graduates Ryan Osborne, Brett Pisaneschi and Stef Vickers. They spoke about the transition from the high school to college level, their individual goals, and their plans for the future.
Farmingdale State, baseball: Osborne, a Westhampton Beach resident, graduated in 2014 with classmate Brett Pisaneschi, and the two, along with their teammates, were vital in bringing Westhampton Beach baseball back to the spotlight. They went from 0-20 in 2012 to the program’s first postseason berth in 12 years their senior year in 2014. The baseball team has continued its success, making the playoffs each year since then.
Osborne entered his junior year at Farmingdale State this fall and is looking to build upon his sophomore season, where he was named a captain of the team. He relishes the role of being a leader.
“I’m looking to build on that leadership role,” he said. “It’s really phenomenal watching the guys grow.”
Osborne, along with Pisaneschi, has returned home the past two summers to play for the Westhampton Aviators of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League. Osborne credits his playing time in the HCBL to improving his skills on the diamond.
“The Hamptons league really motivated me. It really is such a great league,” he said. “A lot of the Division I guys would throw 88 [miles per hour] and above, when at Farmingdale, I would see 80 to 83. But I got used to that change after a while and started to feel comfortable. Once I got back to Farmingdale I thought, ‘I’m going to kill it. This is nothing.’”
Osborne is eligible for one more year on the Aviators, and while he wouldn’t decline a return trip this summer, he said he’s looking to possibly play somewhere else, such as the New York Collegiate Baseball League, just to give himself a different look.
Osborne lives on campus, and even though it’s just an hour from home, he says he still gets the feeling of being away, which he likes. “You meet a lot of new people,” he said. “And it’s better for me to always have access to the weight room and the field, which is just a walk away.”
Osborne is a criminal justice major and is looking to become either a prosecutor or district attorney, which would require him to go to law school after finishing up his bachelor’s degree.
“Farmingdale has increased its education over the past few years so much and I love it,” he said. “I’m a good student—I’m a 3.0 [GPA]—but for law school, I’m going to need to pick up the pace the next couple of years.”
Post University, baseball: The former ace of the Hurricanes pitching staff, Pisaneschi appeared in six games on the mound this past spring for Post in Connecticut, starting half of them, but the junior is looking to be a regular starter on the Eagles staff this upcoming spring. He’s hoping a strong offseason program will propel him toward his goal.
“I just like the atmosphere here. Everyone’s hungry, everyone wants a spot,” he said. “You have to compete to get a spot and that’s what I like about it.
“I’m looking forward to getting a starting spot and making a name for myself on this team,” Pisaneschi added.
Pisaneschi, an East Quogue resident, admitted that his start to college wasn’t all that great. He went on academic probation and redshirted his freshman season. Pisaneschi said that he didn’t have his parents around to constantly keep him on track.
“I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted to,” he explained. “But I came back and raised my GPA to around 3.5. I learned from my mistakes and everything is coming a lot easier now.”
St. Joseph’s College, soccer: Quintero graduated from Hampton Bays in 2014 and admitted that the college selection process was a little overwhelming for him. He couldn’t decide whether to go away or be close to home. St. Joseph’s in Patchogue wasn’t even on his radar, Quintero said, but he attended a college showcase and was told by Hampton Bays Athletic Director Drew Walker that St. Joseph’s was interested in having Quintero—a three-sport athlete (baseball, basketball, soccer)—on its men’s soccer team.
“The two main factors that drove me to pick St. Joseph’s was the ability to keep playing the sport I loved and being close to home,” he said. “At the time, I did not think I was ready to go away to school.”
While Quintero misses playing multiple sports, he said playing in one sport in college is hard enough.
“In college, you have to balance your school/class, sport and work schedule,” he said. “College sports are very demanding in the sense that the athletic administration is always keeping track of your class progress, grades, and attendance. Teachers and the administration are always linked together keeping track of your success in college. Being in college and playing a sport has definitely taught me how to balance out everything and be organized.”
Quintero had a few tips for prospective high school athletes looking to continue their athletic career in college.
“From day one, make sure you balance your time evenly between school and sports,” he said. “Do not focus only on the sport you’re playing because that will affect your class performance. In the long run, that mistake will affect you when it comes time to graduate. Most importantly, always remember you are going to school to come out with a degree.”
Quintero would like to continue playing soccer after college in the professional ranks, but if that doesn’t work out, he’s hoping he can put his bachelor’s degree in business administration to use right away.
“My dream is to be able to work for a sports team franchise,” he said. “This summer I’ll be [interning] at Madison Square Garden, so hopefully it all works out, and when I graduate I can continue my career there.”
Springfield College, football: Sokol was a two-sport athlete during his time at Hampton Bays—which he graduated from in 2013—playing football in the fall and wrestling in the winter. He continued his football career in college, initially attending Western New England University his freshman year, before transferring and settling down the road at Springfield College. Sokol, now a senior, played his final game with Springfield on November 12 in a tough 15-12 loss to the Merchant Marine Academy.
Sokol played at tight end the first few years at Springfield, but a complete tear to his ACL last season forced him to become an interior lineman. The 6-foot-2-inch, 225-pound Hampton Bays resident said the offensive line is a subculture in and of itself at Springfield, known around campus and the surrounding community as “The Roach.” Like a cockroach, a tough and adaptable insect that is said to be able to withstand a nuclear fallout, Sokol explained that Springfield has a reputation for transforming anyone into an offensive lineman. Typically, Springfield linemen are undersized and give up at least 100 pounds to their opponents, but they still manage to get the job done, Sokol said.
“I’ve loved my time here. It’s a great place,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of great friends. It’s going to be tough leaving here, having lived with my friends and hanging out every day. It’s never going to be like that again.”
An applied exercise science major, Sokol said that he may go to graduate school for strength and conditioning, but hasn’t decided what he wants to do when he graduates this spring.
Fairfield University, cross country: Vickers graduated from Westhampton Beach in 2013 as a two-time All-County runner and continued to run at Fairfield, where she’s improved her times each year. She said she’s enjoyed her time in college.
“It’s been a great experience, overall,” she said. “Cross country and running have been a huge part of my college experience. I’ve really enjoyed being on a team. That team aspect gave me structure while being at school.
“I think being an athlete helped with the transition from high school,” Vickers, a Remsenburg resident, added. “My teammates are like family to me and they definitely helped out with the adjustments.”
Vickers will be receiving her bachelor’s degree this spring in communications with a concentration in marketing. She recently interned for Hamptons Magazine, which piqued her interest in the field, but is hoping to land a job in New York City after graduating.