By Ryan Kaczmarski
Lutheran West High School has always been known as a hotbed for academic success, but the Longhorns athletic program has progressed over the years, and is now a place to catch college scouts and recruiters.
This past Wednesday, four more Longhorns put their names on the dotted line, committing them to play their individual sports at the next level after graduation.
Eric Hillenbrand will be continuing his football career this fall at Hillsdale College in Michigan.
“I had a good connection with the coaches and players I talked to when I visited the campus,” Hillenbrand said. “I could see myself fitting in well there. Plus, the academics at Hillsdale will challenge me and definitely prepare me for the future.
“It’s nice to have the recruiting process over with, now I can focus on working hard and getting ready.”
Hillenbrand, who was listed at 6 feet, 5 inches tall, and more than 200 pounds in the fall program feels he has the potential to be a key player right away.
“I believe I have good size, with the potential to develop into a great player,” he explained. “I’m ready to work hard to get there.
“I’m going to continue to work hard in the offseason this spring. Once I get to campus, I’ll continue to work within the program, and I know they’ll help me get to where I need to be physically.”
Lutheran West has been a big part in Hillenbrand’s preparation for the next step.
“Lutheran West gave me the academic ability to go to an academically challenging school like Hillsdale,” he explained. “I also had the opportunity to play both on offense and defense in football, making me a smarter and better football player.”
Hillenbrand plans on studying business, accounting or finance.
Nicolas Kessel will continue his football career at Butler University.
“The determining factor for me, was Butler’s commitment to excellence on and off the field,” Kessel said. “Now that I have made my decision and signed all the papers, I feel as if all the stress and weight is finally off of my shoulders and I can relax for a while, in the sense of not having to worry about college.”
Kessel has come to the realization that he will have to put in extra work to succeed at the college level.
“I will need to train even harder in the weight room, and adjust my body to a new type of training,” he said. “I will need to lift more, run more and practice more techniques, but I will adjust accordingly.
“I know that my future teammates are coming off a hard year, but I feel as though we are all ready to accept the work that it will take to achieve great things.”
Kessel plans on studying business management.
Andrew O’Hara will be attending Concordia University, Ann Arbor on a football and basketball scholarship.
“I felt really comfortable around the players and coaches when I did my campus visits,” he said. “I can now focus on the current basketball season at hand, and not worry about the decision.
“I’ll definitely have to hit the weight room if I want to come in and play right away,” O’Hara added.
O’Hara plans on majoring in education and becoming a high school teacher and coach.
Johanna Ragland will be attending Concordia University in Nebraska, on a track and field scholarship.