I played tennis for as long as I can remember. My father used to go down to the local high school courts to practice with our neighbor, and I would tag along to spend time with my dad – and I secretly think he also took me so that my mom would have some time without me around to pester her! Playing tennis as a weekend diversion eventually turned into taking lessons at the local rec center, lessons at a local club, local tournaments, regional tournaments sanctioned by the USTA, and training over the summers and school vacations at various tennis academies. After progressing up the ladder through the tennis world, when it came time to apply to college the next logical step for me was to continue playing in college.
During the spring of my junior year of high school I began to focus on which colleges I was interested in, and looked more closely at their tennis programs. Our mailbox was flooded with college brochures and letters from coaches, and I took the time to look through most of them just to educate myself and make sure I was considering all my options. I knew that I wanted a school with a strong academic reputation, but also a women’s tennis program where I could play beginning in my freshman year. I spent a lot of time talking to other tennis players I knew who were older than me and had experience with the coaches and teams through their recruiting experiences. I found that I learned a lot more by speaking to other players and coaches at local clubs than I could from brochures or the coaches themselves.
Despite all the phone calls and letters from coaches at various schools trying to convince me to visit and apply to their school, I knew only I could choose what was right for me. I thought a lot about what I wanted not only from college, but also from the tennis program. Since I knew that I was certainly not good enough to become a pro, academics and future career potential were very important to me. Eventually I whittled down my list of potential schools to Columbia University, Georgetown University, Tulane University, and Yale University.
Columbia University was my first choice at that point, so I decided to visit and meet the coach and team in October. I remember walking onto the campus for the first time and realizing that this was the place I wanted to spend the next four years. I loved the school, the people, and of course I loved Manhattan! Everything about Columbia University just felt right to me, and after meeting the team, seeing the tennis facilities, and talking with the coaches, I applied under the early decision program. I decided to hold off on visiting the other schools since I knew that I would be attending Columbia University if I were accepted early.
In mid-December, I was accepted to Columbia University. The recruiting and application process was finally over! That spring I went back for a weekend to meet other recruits and incoming freshmen. In the fall of 1995, I began my freshman year at Columbia University and my first year playing Division I tennis.
Pay attention to your instincts. If something about a school, team, players or coaches doesn’t seem right for you, don’t apply just because you feel as though you should. There are plenty of schools out there that won’t make you second-guess your choice.
Don’t rule out any schools just because you never thought you’d apply there. The time it will take you to research the school and talk to the coaches and players is so minor compared to four years of college. Make sure you always think you made the right choice.
Talk to anyone and everyone you can about the schools and athletic programs you’re considering. The most unbiased advice and information won’t come from the coaches or players, but from others who aren’t affiliated with the school.
Make sure you would like the school even without the athletics. I stopped playing on the team halfway through my sophomore year, and had I not loved Columbia as a school, I would have spent the rest of my time there being pretty unhappy.
I am currently a senior right-handed pitcher on the baseball team. In addition, I am the President of the Student-Athlete Leadership Committee (SALC), Richmond representative on the Atlantic 10 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SSAC), and sit on the Division I National SAAC for the Atlantic 10. I was able to be involved in all of these facets because of the hard work I put into the recruiting process many years ago.
The process is by no means an easy one, but the rewards in the end are priceless if you can make it work. My recruiting experience took place a long time ago and many things have changed, but I recently mentored my brother through the process. He now plays baseball at William & Mary.
Furthermore, I recently began interviewing for jobs and will begin working in New York City as an investment banker this coming summer. I was prepared for the job interview process because of my experiences being recruited to play college baseball. While the processes have their differences, your attitude and effort during the process should not change.
Here are some points I encourage you to remember during the recruiting process:
Be proactive. Don't wait for things to happen
Initiate the conversation
Don't be afraid to call, write, or e-mail coaches
Ask questions. If you don't ask, you will never know
Research the schools you want to be recruited by. Do your homework and show the coach you want to be at their school. (Know who some of their players are, know who they are playing that week, etc.)
Let them know where you will be playing (Give them a schedule of when/where)
Highlight your strengths
Make a video for coaches to use as an evaluation tool
Ask for feedback. ("Hey Coach, what should I be doing now? Is there anything I need to do to make this process easier for you? How can I improve myself as a player?")
Respond quickly to all e-mails, letters, or phone calls
Don't give up if one school says no. Everything happens for a reason
Hope this helps and best of luck in the recruiting process.
I decided my freshman year that I wanted to play lacrosse in college and worked hard on achieving that goal for the next four years. So, when my junior year rolled around I was ready to start the process and achieve my goal of signing at a D-1 school to play lacrosse. To my delight I received letters and phone calls from several college coaches and eventually ended up going on several official visits.
My first trip was to Penn State University, which was my first choice because my sister went there and I loved the idea of going to a big school. The recruiting trip was a great time and I left feeling like I had found my school, but I wanted to go on other visits to make sure. Next, I visited James Madison University. It was a great school and the girls on the team were really great to me. However, I knew it was not the right fit for me. For my final trip I went to Loyola College, which was really the opposite of what I was looking for in a college. I was attracted to big schools with big name football teams and large fraternities and Loyola College was a small, private, liberal arts school and not really where I pictured myself going. However, they were ranked top five in the nation for lacrosse at the time and that really appealed to me so I went on the trip with an open mind. When I arrived, I met the team and coaches and I immediately noticed that they had an amazing bond with each other. The team went beyond the lacrosse field and the girls were true friends that looked out for each other. Also, they were serious about winning a National Championship which I was all about, so I left Loyola College with a bittersweet feeling. I was buzzing from the vibe of the trip but now I was facing a really tough decision.
I found myself truly torn between Penn State University and Loyola College. I needed to give Loyola College my answer by the next weekend and I was in a constant tug of war between the two schools. Even worse, my parents were away that weekend so I was left to make the decision alone. After hours of making pro and con lists, pacing in my room and pulling my hair out I knew exactly what to do to finally make my decision. I went to the phone and called the psychic hot line. Yes, I turned to a higher power to find my college destiny. Well, after an hour on the phone and a $59.95 bill, all the stars told me was I was still stuck with a major decision.
Finally, I decided that the vibe I got from the coaches and team at Loyola College was exactly what I was looking for in a lacrosse program and that was more important than going to a big football school. So, I went to Loyola and it was the best four years of my life. I guess the moral of my story is to always keep an open mind when choosing your college because you never know what college is going to work for you until you meet the team, coaches and college personally. Also, psychic hot lines are for the birds.