Four Lady Tigers to play college sports
Mikaela Koenig got accepted into the school and program of her choice when she joined Lebanon Valley College. Her basketball career, however, seemed to have come to the end of its road. And she was content with that.
Shortly after being accepted into Lebanon Valley College, that all changed.
“I applied early decision for their doctor of physical therapy program because they only accept about 50 kids and they get like 300 applicants,” Koenig said. “Once I applied there and that’s where I was going, if I played basketball or not, I knew that was the right choice.
Playing basketball was an added incentive to one of her top college choices.
“I thought I had closed the door and said I wasn’t going to do it,” Koenig said. “But once I was accepted into the college, [the coach] contacted me and said I’d really like you come play. I decided to give it a shot and play.”
That decision made it two former Northwestern basketball seniors that will continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level. Erika Thomas, who committed to Marywood University, was one of four Tiger females that were recognized for signing letters of intent last Wednesday at Northwestern High School. Rachel Mikols (Moravian College, track and field/cross country) and Haley Dietrich (see story on this page) also announced their college intentions at last week’s ceremony.
Koenig began taking basketball more seriously in grade school when she started playing on AAU teams. It was then that she began hoping to play college ball some day. Now it’s a reality.
“I’m really glad that I’m able to consider playing basketball in college,” Koenig said. “I worked really hard starting back when I played AAU in sixth grade. Knowing all of my hard work is taking me to the next level after high school is a really good feeling to have.”
For Thomas, her decision came much earlier than Koenig’s. But her choice to attend Marywood, like Koenig, was more than just for basketball.
“My grandfather got sick like two years ago, and he lost his speaking and swallowing abilities,” Thomas said. “A speech pathologist helped him regain those. I thought it was a very impactful career.”
When she joins Marywood that’s what she’ll be studying.
But on the court, Marywood receives a deadly shooting guard from three-point range that scored over 1,000 points for her career, including 16.4 per game this past winter.
“I always dreamed about playing in college,” Thomas said. “To be able to go somewhere where I feel really comfortable, I feel like it’s going to be a good fit for me.”
Her journey to Marywood is a little coincidental. She had her eyes set on the school, but when coaches from the team asked head coach Chris Deutsch about the sharp-shooter at a summer tournament, it seemed too good to be true.
“Their coach came and talked to my coach, and then he said actually she’s considering going to Marywood,” Thomas said. “It just kind of worked out. I had that in my mind before, and then they contacted me. It all fell together.”
Mikols, a senior distance runner on the Tigers cross country and track and field teams, rounds out the remaining Division III signees. She’ll join Moravian and continue running cross country next fall.
“Moravian just really sold me as far as academics go,” Mikols said. “And then I met the team there and they were really, really nice, as well as the coach. I went there last week, and they were really friendly and accommodating.”
She’s the type of person that couldn’t envision life without running.
“I think I always knew that I was going to [run in college],” Mikols said. “It’s something that I love to do, and I can’t see myself not doing it.”
Mikols will study graphic design as a Greyhound, a major that allows her to utilize her creative side and succeed in an industry she wants to make a career one day.
“I always knew I wanted to do something with fashion,” Mikols said. “I took a Photoshop class and I was like, ‘Wow I really like this.’ I’ve always been kind of creative, too.”