University of Richmond 07 - Women's Tennis
School first, sports second. Those have always been my priorities; however, I fully recognized that my sport, tennis, could provide me with a full scholarship to a good college. So I looked at schools that had excellent academics and relatively strong tennis programs. I wanted to compete at a high level so Division 1 was really my only option. Then I had to decide whether I wanted to start at the top from the get-go or work my way up over the four years. Again, I wanted the highest level of competition and so I choose a smaller tennis program that competed with the Big Guns.
The University of Richmond presented a complete package to me. The tennis coach was one of the friendliest coaches I had met prior to my senior year of high school. When it came down to final decisions, it was actually between Penn State University and the University of Richmond; two schools on complete opposite sides of the spectrum. Penn State University huge, north bound, and with a national reputation had one thing in common with the smaller, academically demanding school in Richmond, VA: an awesome coach. It was difficult to decline the Nittany Lions offer but I simply wanted smaller classes and a more personable relationship with my professors. So I became a Richmond Spider and fully enjoyed my four years there.
Of course on my recruiting trips I looked at the library, where I did indeed spend most of my days for my pre-med classes, and the weight room, to see where I would get the biggest my 55 frame would allow. I met counselors and academic advisors, spoke to many students to gauge the overall campus feel, but the most influential people were my future teammates. Be fully aware that you will spend the majority of your days with your fellow teammates. Richmonds team liked each other, unlike other squads, and they really seemed to unite like a family. I wanted to be part of this team.
Create a list of what you want in a school. Try to decide on one major or area of study that youre interested in and talk to the department. You really want to obtain as much information as possible so first determine what you want and then see how well the school matches your interests.
Do you have other interests or desires to participate in other extracurricular activities? If so, see how well the team time is managed and how feasible your future schedule will be. A recruiting trip/overnight stay is the best way to experience life on campus so I strongly encourage doing this.
Study your coachs interactions. What is your initial vibe? Obviously they are trying to sell the school to you but talk to the team and assess their happiness with how the coach runs things. Do they push their players too hard? Too easy? Do they understand when life issues get in the way of your athletic performance? Do they simply view you as an athlete under their ownership or do they respect you and see you as a real person?
If youre stuck between two schools, make your final decision as if you werent an athlete. What if you get injured and you cannot compete? You want to be somewhere you can enjoy yourself if this huge part of your life went missing.
For more information check out the Active Recruiting 101 special section.