For three months a year, Bless Tumushabe would wake up at 4 a.m., hop on the Metro, and head across town for morning Wilson soccer practices. Meanwhile, Mica Gelb found himself at extra fitness sessions at Champtime Fitness six days a week. Through many years of hard work, these two athletes now join the growing list of Tiger graduates representing Wilson in the NCAA. As they begin their first year of college, these athletes share their journeys toward achieving their lifelong goals.
Tumushabe was a standout on the boys varsity soccer team, which he co-captained to its first ever DCSAA State Championship. Tumushabe’s hard work and coachability have transformed him into a college-ready athlete. Now as a freshman on the Swarthmore College men’s soccer team, he will strive to become a key contributor toward the team’s success.
Tumushabe accredited the coaches he had throughout his high school soccer seasons as one of the main reasons he was able to play at the college level. “The coaches have all helped me improve my game,” Tumushabe said. “They have pushed me toward becoming a better player.”
Despite all of the hard work he put in on the field, it was his persistence off the field that showed coaches what playing college soccer meant to him. “I began sending out many emails to coaches my sophomore year,” Tumushabe said. Knowing that he was interested in their program, the Swarthmore coaching staff saw him play at the University of Maryland soccer camp and were impressed by his performance, and by the middle of his senior year, he was committed.
After co-captaining the football team his senior season, Gelb is now off to the University of Michigan where he will be competing in one of the top D1 college football programs in the country. “Michigan was my dream school for as long as I can remember. So it was not a difficult decision for me,” Gelb said.
Gelb credits the Wilson football coaching staff for teaching him not to take athletic success for granted. “The coaches at Wilson showed me how to be independent,” Gelb said. “They really made it clear that I would have to work for what I want and it’s not just given to me.” These were vital pieces of advice that would help turn him into a D1 caliber player. He hopes to continue adhering to those values throughout his college career.
With the teams coming out of preseason, both Tumushabe and Gelb have spent a lot time with their coaches and future teammates and have already noted a big difference between the collegiate and high school levels. “People take it much more seriously and the work ethic is better,” Tumushabe said. “Playing in college is a much bigger commitment.” While Tumushabe plays at a D3 program and Gelb at a D1, both stress the importance of being dedicated to your team and balancing their academic workload and athletics will be a big challenge. “There will be moments when it will truly be overwhelming,” Tumushabe mentioned. “There is no secret formula, it all just comes down to how hard you are willing to work.”
With promising collegiate careers ahead of them, both Tumushabe and Gelb hope to serve as prominent representatives of hard-working student-athletes from the Wilson community.