Young athletes face pressure make leap to college

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Dan Perry felt the pressure at an early age. He knew he needed to wrestle.

“My family would have definitely struggled to put me through college,” said Perry, who accepted a scholarship to wrestle for the University of Michigan. “I would have had to take out a ton of loans and then would have spent my entire life trying to pay them back.”

Perry had wrestled ever since he was a little boy and found success. So, even though he also played football, he focused on wrestling as a way get past the barriers like rising tuition to get to college.

But he only lasted one season wrestling at Michigan.

“I still love the sport but honestly I was just sick of it, burned out,” Perry said. “I had been doing it my whole life and it was what I was best at. But what I really wanted to do was play football.”

Fortunately for Perry, he was able to transfer to Kent State University and get a scholarship to play football. If he hadn’t been so worried about money, he said that’s the decision he would have made from the start.

Money is one of several reasons young athletes may feel the pressure to double-down on a sport. But that hyper focus doesn’t always lead to success.

Aaron Hutton came from a family of athletes. His dad and brother both played college basketball and it was assumed he would follow in their footsteps.

Hutton didn’t have the size advantage, standing in at only 5-foot-9, but he was determined to get a scholarship somewhere.

“Every year I played it was in the back of my mind that I needed to impress scouts and that I didn’t want to be the only Hutton who didn’t play college ball,” Hutton said.

He said his family didn’t directly pressure him or make him feel like he needed to play. The pressure came indirectly.

“I put more pressure on myself than anyone else did,” Hutton said. “My family would never say, ‘You need to play college basketball,’ but when people would ask what my plan was, they would say things like, ‘He will be playing somewhere.’

“It stressed me out and made me feel like I would be letting people down if I didn’t play somewhere.”

Andrew Roberts coaches men’s and women’s basketball Lapeer School District and said he has seen athletes suffer from the pressures put on them.

“It’s sad when you see 15-, 16-, 17-year-old kids who are struggling because they feel they have to play,” Roberts said. “Yeah, there is the money factor. Some of these families cannot help their kids out at all with school and knowing that it puts stress on them.”

Roberts also said he has seen kids like Hutton who feel pressure coming from home.

Hutton ended up getting a football scholarship to Sienna Heights University, a small school in Michigan. He said that it felt good to deviate from the footsteps of his family while still doing something he had been passionate about.

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