Every semester, the athletic teams at Hudson valley acquire several student-athletes from New York City.
The football team had eight, and the men’s basketball team had two this year. For both of these teams, the student-athletes from the city were some of their top players.
Each of these players had a significant amount of adjustment, but according to them it is not as hard as it is made out to be if you focus.
Starting quarterback for the football team Rafael Hidalgo, who is from Queens, said, “The difference for me is the environment. I wanted to come up here because I didn’t know anyone, so it was like a fresh start.”
“I think it’s tougher for some of them because they’re used to a lot going on. They’re used to a lot of public transportation that we don’t have up here. It’s easier for them to get around down there,” said football head coach Mike Muehling. “Everything they need is within a couple blocks of each other down there, but up here it’s more spread out and laid back then down there. Up here the planning out time is different for that reason,” he said.
“In the city it’s chaos, and loud everywhere. Up here, the quiet helped me study and focus on school more,” Hidalgo said. “The adjustment took a while, but after a while I got the hang of it,” he added.
Football star defensive end Ashton Mckenzie said it was the reason he came to Hudson Valley from the Bronx. He said, “I had a chance to go to Nassau, but I chose to come here because it would be better for me academically. There’s a lot of distraction back home.”
Hidalgo said his biggest adjustment was the balance of school and playing sports. He said, “When I came up here, I had to learn how to play football and keep my grades at a certain average.”
Muehling also said, “For lack of a better term, there’s a stricter and more rigorous academic standard up here.”
Nhoel Deverson, who played guard for the basketball team, said that playing AAU basketball made the transition to college easier. He added that school is very basic if you don’t fool around. “As long as you focus on your school work, school is school,” he said.
Basketball head coach Mike Long said, “I think the biggest adjustment I’ve seen, when somebody is going from high school to college, is it’s up to the student whether to go to class or not. Being responsible is what it is.”
“School was different, the first semester I was messing up. But I got some help and I turned it around,” McKenzie said. “Now I feel good because I’m passing everything.” he said.
Muehling then talked about how the players from the city have less fundamentals but more strength, size and raw talent. He said this can be attributed to the facilities available. A lot of schools in the city don’t have a field that the kids can go to after school, but they have many weight rooms, where the kids can strength train.
“The kids who have the technique down may have already reached their ceiling, but the kids like Ashton who have not learned it might be able to be better just because their ceiling is higher. But we don’t know until they learn the techniques,” he said.
“We know we’ve got to work on their fundamentals and get them squared away with that, before we can go much further with them.” Muehling said.
Long agreed that there are some differences in players from the city. “Usually players from the city will go to the basket more than some of the local guys, but there’s things the kids from New York have to improve on just like anyone else,” he said.