Standout guard Sara Wohlgemuth from Hand verbally committed to play basketball at Division II Florida Southern College on Sunday.
Wohlgemuth, the Register/GameTimeCT State Player of the Year from this past season, decommitted from Southern New Hampshire in April. But the reason she made the change was for academic reasons, not athletic.
“I called Coach (Karen) Pinkos and said, ‘I love Southern New Hampshire, I wanted to come and play for you but academically, it’s not what is best for me,’ ” Wohlgemuth said. “She completely respected my decision. She’s been great throughout the whole process. She told me that if I could not find another option, she would leave a spot open for me.”
Wohlgemuth said she received an email from the school on April 22. She said that not only would classes be online for the next school year, but also beyond that, likely for her entire college career.
“When I realized all four years would be affected by it, doing distance learning now, I realized it would not be for me academically,” said Wohlgemuth, who will major in biology. “I wouldn’t get that full experience, which to me isn’t the college experience.”
So after a zoom meeting with Pinkos on April 22, Wohlgemuth decided to withdraw from the school. The family contacted the NCAA about being released from her national letter of intent.
The process happened quickly. The school released her by April 24.
“I was still trying to comprehend what was going on. I just found out I had nowhere to go,” Wohlgemuth said. “I had to start the (recruiting) process all over again.”
Wohlgemuth said that with help from Hand coach Tim Tredwell and her AAU coaches at Connecticut Starters, she emailed 55 Division II programs, and some prep schools for a post-graduate option, about her availability. By the time May rolled around, not only did some programs have its rosters filled, but others had completed its admissions process.
A number of those she didn’t have interest in the first time around, preferring to stay in the Northeast region. That included Florida Southern. But the school was one of several to respond.
“The Sunshine State Conference (of which Florida Southern is a member) is very competitive. I wanted to see what availability that conference had,” Wohlgemuth said.
Wohlgemuth had to do virtual tours thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic — but she wanted to see Florida Southern for herself. So her family left Friday for Lakeland, Florida — an 18-hour drive — and they toured the campus themselves.
Seven hours into the return trip Sunday, Wohlgemuth decided. She called Pinkos first, then the schools she had narrowed her list down to — she declined to mention them — before contacting Florida Southern.
Wohlgemuth said it is a full scholarship. She wants to become a physician’s assistant.
“I knew that Florida Southern was the No 1 option, so I needed to see it,” Wohlgemuth said. “I really wanted a smaller school and I wanted a school athletics’ wise where the other sports were competitive around me.”
Wohlgemuth, who averaged 18 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.0 assists for the Tigers, was the New Haven Register’s Area MVP and the Southern Connecticut Conference Player of the Year.
Florida Southern finished 19-11 last season.