College athletic programs spend millions of dollars each year recruiting and giving scholarships to athletes, but walk-on athletes often contribute while overcoming tough odds.
Many walk-ons spend their time working to get better at their respective sports and hoping to become scholarship athletes.
Jonathan Banegas, a junior on the soccer team, walked-on during his sophomore year and knows the daily struggle first-hand.
“You have to constantly prove yourself,” Banegas said. “Things usually aren’t in your favor, and you’re competing at a super high level trying to get the coaches to notice you.”
The Honduran forward is still playing without scholarship money.
“What keeps me going every day is the love and passion I have for the game and my teammates,” he said.
Most walk-ons don’t get the opportunity to showcase their talents as often as the recruited players, but some walk-ons are an exception.
Former basketball standout Mikey Manghum did what every hopeful walk-on dreams of, earned a scholarship. Manghum played for the Golden Eagles from 2009-2012, working his way up the ranks to becoming one of Coach Sutton’s most reliable players.
“Being a walk-on is a challenge,” Manghum said. “Coach told me I may have the opportunity to earn a scholarship, but it was never anything I expected.”
Manghum worked hard to obtain a scholarship and became an integral part of the team.
“My advice to any other walk-on is to always remain humble, and never become complacent,” said Manghum. “There should never be any excuse for slacking off.”
Despite limited-to-no playing time during games, walk-ons may still be considered vital to the sports teams’ overall success.
“We love having walk-ons as part of the ORU basketball family,” said Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach Kyan Brown. “Our expectation is the young men that make it, take care of business on and off the court, all while representing our university in a positive light.”
For Banegas, scholarships were not a factor in his decision to join the team.
“I continue to work hard because I love it,” said Banegas. “My love for the game is too deep to just be a fan, so I keep pushing.”