The Harbinger Online

A Q&A with Future College Athletes

Destiny Ray — Track


Where will you be continuing your athletic career next year?

I will be going to Pittsburg State University and I will be continuing to do sprints. As far as I know I’ll be doing the regular 100 [Meter], 200 [Meter] — the things I’ve been running at school.


What made you decide on Pittsburg State?

At first I went through a list of different [colleges and their] requirements as far as my GPA and my scores. And then after that I went through the track colleges, and that’s how I came upon Pittsburg State.


What are you looking forward to most?

I’m excited to see how collegiate athletes do their different exercises or warm-ups and how they eat and train and things like that. And also to just have an all-around good experience, because I’m excited since everyone is going to be older and really different than in high school.


When will your training begin?

As soon as I get a sheet sent, because they have a sheet that says what [exercises] they want me to do for certain days. So by summer I’ll probably get a sheet of things I need to do to prepare for next season and get in the mode for getting ready for the season.


How do you feel about balancing athletics and college academics?

I have a feel for it because of what I do now, so I think it will kind of translate into how I set up a schedule, how I balance everything. So it may be more of getting comfortable with it  and seeing how different classes go in the beginning. And then I’ll move into going in between the academic and athletic side of things.


How do you feel about competing with a new team next year?

It’s going to be a little bit different because I’m definitely used to other people’s personalities [on my team]. But I think after I get to know everyone and really see their different ideas and how they perform, I can probably get more comfortable and see some similarities and differences in how we work together so we can build a bigger bond.


What are your goals for your first college season?

My goal is to to try to be at at least the standard level of a collegiate athlete. Like most [female collegiate track athletes] run like 11 seconds and under on the 100. And those girls run like 24 seconds and 23 seconds on the 200; they run super fast. So my goal is to at least be up to their level as a starter, but then moving up to progress to being up where I am with like records and stuff [at East].


What are your emotions as your final high school season is coming to an end?

I am overwhelmed, because the stress level is kind of high since everything is rushing in at once because of how little time you have. But at the same time I’m trying to make each moment of every day last as much as possible. At the same time I’ll be looking at everyone and their getting teary-eyed and getting sad, and it’s just like ‘I’m going to miss you guys but don’t make me cry.’ But I think I’ll be happy to see as far as what next year brings me and still keep in mind that I will miss a lot of people here.


What are you going to miss most about track at East?

I think just the people. The people and how we get along with each other. We goof around and we kind of like getting everything done at the same time. We have a serious side and a goofy side.



PJ Spencer — Football


Where will you be continuing your athletic career next year?

I’m going Northwestern next year to play football.


What made you decide on Northwestern?

I took a visit there in early November and I think just the duo of a great school academically and a great school as a football program, with facilities, coaches, players and skill level all kind of just coming together at one place there. Their brand new facility is top-of-the-line for NFL or college. Their school is obviously one of the top in the country and their football team is really on the rise with a great coaching staff that’s really a player’s coaching staff, so that’s really what made me want to go there.


What is a player’s coaching staff?

It means that they really just have the player’s best interest in mind all the time. That they’re there to work for you, not the fans or someone else.


What was the recruiting process like?

For me, I didn’t look at Northwestern until later. I looked at other schools before that but I didn’t really get a good feeling anywhere else until Northwestern called me and kind of gave me the opportunity to go there. It was kind of just all over the place before then. So Coach Hoover, our football coach got in contact with them because he had a connection. He sent them my game film and they said ‘We have interest in this guy as a walk-on.’ So they called me and said ‘We have a spot for you if you want to come and kind of get a look at the place and see what you think.’ So that happened, and I thought I should go.


What are you looking forward to most?

I’m really looking forward to the relationships and friendships, as well as just how fun it’s going to be. Some people go to college and they don’t know a lot of people, but it’s really fortunate that I’m going to college and going to instantly have like 100 friends because they’re on the football team. And I think that being in a brotherhood like that is going to be a really fun and unique thing — as well as the opportunity to keep playing football in college.


When will your training begin?

They’ve actually already sent me a weight program and speed training and all that, but I leave June 22 [for Northwestern], and we’ll start training and classes the 24th.


Have you met any of the coaches or athletes? What was your experience?

I’ve met almost all of the coaches, they’re great guys. My position coach is an amazing person, a really smart man who knows how to teach people — not only how to play football but how to think football and play it very well. And then for teammates, our committed class of 2019 all went out in April so I got to meet all of those guys. And then the quarterback for Olathe West, Zac Krause, is actually going to be my roommate, so I already know him. I already know a lot of people, which is really nice.


How will college football be different than high school?

Just from the practices I’ve seen it will definitely be faster. The guys are bigger, the guys are stronger, the guys are faster. I think the big thing too is that I’m going to have to invest a lot more time into studying the game — a lot more than I did in high school. I watched film and all that but I only focused on my position and I think in college you really have to know where everybody is on the field and what everybody is doing on the field. So I think that the mental side will definitely be a large change in college, comparatively to high school.


How do you feel about balancing athletics and college academics?

I think Northwestern especially does a really good job with their athletes about making sure they’re on top of all their studies and that they’re in things that they like to be in. Specifically, they require you to do I think like a minimum of six or eight study hours a week, so at their facility they have an academic center. And they’ll also make you go to the library and make you do three to four hours of studying there. They monitor your grades and check in with you all the time. So I think having help like that will definitely make it a whole lot easier than just doing it on my own.


What are your goals for your first college season?

Just to get bigger, faster and stronger. Also to get acclimated with how college football is going to be and the schedule and the workload, because those are both going to change drastically. And probably just in a whole college sense just getting comfortable with being away from home, because I think change is always weird and change is always uncomfortable. So I think just getting used to the change of being in a new place, being on a new team, studying new things, being on my own, is definitely something I want to get on early.


View photos of Ray and Spencer on college signing day below:

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Author Spotlight

Brynn Winkler

Brynn Winkler is a senior soaking up her third year on The Harbinger where she works as a Copy Editor and Online Section Editor. Though much of her free time is spent in the New York Times op-ed section or finalizing her own stories for The Harbinger, she’s also an avid coffee shop connoisseur, traveler, and lover of all things outdoors. Along with Harbinger, Brynn is also involved in girls’ cross country and swimming, Coalition, IB, SHARE and Junior Board. »

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