Congratulations to two Holton student-athletes for their commitment to compete in Division I athletics next year: Francesca Cetta '20 will run track and cross country at Duke University and Jillian Johnson '20 will swim at the University of Pennsylvania.
Learn more about each of these athletes and her journey here:
Francesca Cetta '20 – Duke University, Track & Field and Cross Country
After much success her junior year, Francesca had several options to continue her running career in college. Although she said it was difficult process ("like a roller coaster"), she knew she wanted the opportunity to compete at the next level and maximize her potential. While she considered other schools such as Harvard, Dartmouth and Columbia, Duke proved to be the best overall fit. Francesca says, "I chose Duke because of the environment, coaching, and spirit. Duke has a very energetic campus and team that I was immediately excited to be part of. The students at Duke are all super proud of the school and support Duke athletics. Coach Riley's coaching philosophy and vision for the program also best fit my goals as a runner. I am also super excited to run in the Duke forest and on other trails in North Carolina. I have also been a Duke fan since birth because both of my parents went there, so that helps!"
Francesca feels extremely prepared for the life as a Division I student-athlete. She says, "The challenging academics and busy schedule at Holton have taught me how to allocate my time with practice and class...I have learned how to focus on running when I am running and forget about school. I think separating the two makes for better practices and competitions."
Francesca wanted to acknowledge some of her coaches who have impacted her throughout her high school experience. "I want to thank Coach Valmon for being a mentor on and off the track, for believing in me, and for her unwavering support through the ups and downs; Coach Benson for her rigorous and methodical training plans; and Coach Braun and Coach Henderson for fostering my love for the sport and a supportive team environment."
Jillian Johnson '20 – University of Pennsylvania, Swimming
As the daughter of two Division I student-athletes, Jillian has known for a long time that she wanted to compete at the collegiate level. "Both instilled the belief in me that college athletics are a great source of friendship as well as competition at a higher level. My love for the sport and for continually improving played a huge role in my decision to continue swimming as well," says Jillian.
Throughout the process, Jillian made sure to consider schools for both their academic and athletic offerings. This led her to both Division I and III schools. During her junior year, things picked up for Jillian, as this is the first year colleges are officially allowed to contact swimmers. Jillian says, "The most difficult part of recruiting, I think, is keeping track of all of the people you are talking to and making sure you know exactly where you are with them as well as planning visits to get to know swimmers and coaches on each team. I recommend keeping a notebook or calendar of some sort to make it easier to visualize and plan for each school you're considering." Ultimately, Penn provided the best balance and opportunity for strong academics as well as intensive athletics.
Jillian is excited about the connection to Penn Medicine and access to many different types of classes that will help her in a future medical career and other non-STEM subjects that she loves just as much. Jillian feels well prepared for life as a student-athlete. "I believe that Holton has prepared me to think for myself and create my own ideas," she says. "It's also taught me how to manage difficult classes while participating in intensive athletics."
They say it takes a village, and Jillian recognizes that so many different groups of people have helped her along her journey. These include her parents, "who helped me through this confusing and difficult process and who have provided me with endless support throughout my life as a student-athlete; her coaches, "who have undoubtedly improved my swimming and mental strength and who have certainly prepared me for the next chapter of my athletic career"; and her friends and teammates, "for all their encouragement and support in the pool and out of the pool."