From the beginning I was a competitive swimmer and I knew that I wanted to swim in college. For swimming, and many sports, your junior year is the most important year. I cannot stress that enough. It is the year that colleges really start to take notice of who are the standout athletes.
Fortunately for me, I swam for a fantastic High School team where college coaches visited our program on a weekly basis. Once July came around coaches started calling and the process became very exciting. These calls were long, but gave me good insight into which schools were really interested. Coaches flew down to see me perform, eat dinner at my house and try to win me over. All of this attention was fantastic; however what it really came down to was what did I want? Where did I want to go to school? Where would I feel most comfortable? What program would take me the furthest? Being selective is very important as you do not want to waste the coach or your time. My advice is to also notice what coach is constantly contacting you, is it the assistant or is it the head coach?
I took my trips to University of Tennessee, Auburn University, University of Florida, Villanova University and Southern Methodist University. My first trip was to University of Tennessee very early on. For anyone going through recruitment make sure that you keep your eyes and mind open and dont let other programs no where you stand. Many programs assumed I was going to choose University of Tennessee, however I ended up deciding to go to Auburn University. I chose Auburn University because of my experience there, the great letter I received days after my visit, the fact that one of my high school teammates was in the program and of course that I new they would be a top program.
On a side note, Villanova University was amazing. I loved the small environment and that it was right outside of Philadelphia. The coach showed me an amazing trip and it was hard to inform him that I chose Auburn. Therefore, I made it a point to be friendly every time I saw him at a competition because you never know what lies in the future. Therefore, you should always be kind and considerate to the programs that you turn down and for me it paid off as a year after being at Auburn University, I decided it wasnt the right fit for me.
Once released, which is a process, I was able to start the school search and visiting process all over again. I looked at Notre Dame University, University of Virginia, Syracuse University and Villanova University. I was now one year older and wiser so to look at the academics first then the program. As it turned out, Villanova University was the perfect fit and I never to this day regret the decision I made to become a Wildcat.
As a high school athlete thinking of being a collegiate athlete you must weigh your pros and cons, think about now but also think about the future and open your mind to new locations and new experience. For me moving from Florida to the North East was an adjustment but one that allowed me to grow as a person as I explored a new cultural experiences. Also, look at the team and ask yourself if you would consider these people as family one day, because that is one college teammates end up being like.
The recruiting process is a blast, trust me, but do bring a journal and take notes. Be yourself, not someone else and listen to your heart and your head.
My experience with the recruiting process for college lacrosse began at an early age. My destiny was written by the high school I chose to attend: St. Mary's of Annapolis. This school had a legacy of producing fantastic, talented women's lacrosse players, and was arguably one of the best programs in the country. I had been playing lacrosse since the early age of seven years old; always played above my year, and always played with girls that were years older than me.
My high school coach was also my club lacrosse coach, Sue Chittim. Chittim, as we lovingly referred to her as, was one of the best coaches in the Anne Arundel Area, and had a lot of history and connections with college coaches. Early on in my sophomore year fall, I began to write letters expressing my interest in different college lacrosse programs. I sent my letters EVERYWHERE! I sent letters to every Ivy League school, to Hopkins, Maryland, Notre Dame, Stanford, basically every college or university across the nation I could ever be interested in to play Division I lacrosse. I included academic information about myself and expressed interest in their lacrosse programs. I immediately began a correspondence with these schools, and invited them to watch me play in tournaments and game throughout the rest of my career.
By the end of my junior year of high school, I began to stand out as one of the best high school lacrosse players in the area. I was named All-County, All-Metro, and All-American. This was the most important recruiting time of my life: Junior year summer. I went to as many tournaments as I could, played lacrosse all through the year, and tried my best to stand out as an all-around talented athlete. This time in my life could have been severely stressful, although I never perceived it to be. To me, I was just playing the sport I loved and having the time of my life with my teammates, who were also my best friends.
On July 1st, I began to receive phone calls from various coaches around the country who had seen me play. I was recruited by Yale University, University of Notre Dame, Penn State University, Dartmouth College, Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Delaware, University of Richmond, Princeton University, and Loyola College, among various other schools. I was also recruited by many D-III schools, but was uninterested in pursuing that venue.
This was a process of mutual selection. The schools that were interested in me had to want me due to my criterion as a player, and respectively, I had to want them due to their criterion as a college. I talked with countless coaches, assistant coaches, and consulted my parents as much as possible. I finally narrowed it down to the following: Penn State University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Richmond and Princeton University. As an athlete, you can only take five official visits to various colleges. I decided four was enough for me.
My first visit to Penn State University was unreal. I got to be on the same football field as Joe Paterno, one of the most admired football coaches of his time. The lacrosse coaches were very nice and welcoming. My mom came with me, and we were both blown away. Penn State University was enormous and despite its size, I was still able to meet with the President of the entire school. Everyone loved being apart of the chaos. It was overwhelming. But, it wasn't truly me.
The next visit I went to was University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution, extremely impressive. Everyone I met was incredibly intelligent. I was blown away by the prestige and the dignity that this institution was known for. The coach was very classy and the team seemed very together and dedicated. To be honest, I was intimidated. I doubted myself, was I really Ivy League material? I had no idea.
My last visit was to the University of Richmond. I was unsure of what to expect. I knew it was small, I knew the South wasn't so up to date on lacrosse culture and I knew they didn't have a boy's lacrosse team, which I wasn't thrilled about.
However, the moment I arrived in Richmond, I knew something was different about this school. I walked onto campus and it just felt right. I loved the close knit feel of the university. I loved the fact that I could walk the entire campus in under 45 minutes. I hung out with the team, and felt the immediate chemistry you feel when you stumble into something truly real, truly unique. I loved the camaraderie between the teammates, from the senior class down to the freshman class as everyone was treated equal on this team. Something clicked in my heart and in my head; I knew I was at home.
I've been at the University of Richmond for four years now. It's the end of my senior year, and I am finally forced to look back on the four years I've spent on my academics, athletics, and interpersonal relationships.
Well, time has certainly flown. The recruiting process made me follow my heart. I've learned that when you follow your instincts, you can't go wrong.
Listen to your parents; accept their advice, but ultimately: decide for yourself. Life will not be over if you choose to go against their wishes. In fact, life is just beginning for you.
Don't discount yourself. If you think you deserve more credit, more recognition, more accountability, then ask for it! What do you have to lose, if you never inquire?
Don't settle for second best. Push yourself, just like you would on the field, until you know you can truly be happy.
Be real. Honestly, if a coach treats you like "all that" when she is recruiting you that doesn't mean you will be when you are on the team. You are going to be at the bottom of the totem pole when you get to college and you are the 'freshmen' and the 'youngest' again. Don't be fooled into thinking you are going to start for college coaches the moment you walk on campus, you'll have to prove yourself to your coaches and teammates.
Don't sweat the small stuff. In the beginning of the recruiting process, you might get ultra frustrated, but it will be fine. There are bumps in the road that is life. Just keep putting the effort in.
I was recruited to numerous schools to play soccer, but the hardest option was picking which one. I have played soccer all my life and knew this was definitely the path I wanted to pursue in college. I had plenty of experience, playing varsity for four years in high school and also playing club ball with one of the most prestigious clubs in the nation.
Even with the honors that I received in high school, I didn't get many coaches knocking down my door to have me. Instead, I attended different showcases to, well, showcase my talents. It is there that recruiters were able to see me play and I would later get to talk to them after the game and determine their interest.
I started to get letters from all types of schools, D-III, D-II, and D-, but I was really looking for a school that would fit my needs both academically and athletically. I was like any other kid out there, confused, and just wanting to find something. All I can say is don't settle for anything. I had offers from West Chester University, Rutgers University, Quinnipiac University, and Delaware University. These were the few, of many schools, where the head coach either called me or came to a couple games to see me play.
I then started to play the field; I wanted to see exactly what the offers were and then weigh it on a scale to see if the shoe fit so to speak. For me, Rutgers and Quinnipiac became the top two schools real quick and I focused from there. Rutgers had an amazing soccer program, but the location wasn't ideal for me. I then visited Quinnipiac; it was a real small school, tucked away in the mountains of Connecticut. The campus was really nice, it was D-I (known more for ice hockey than soccer), and they had the academic program I was looking for. The coach was able to throw some scholarship money my way, and that was it, I decided to attend Quinnipiac.
Don't settle, do your research and really take the time to see schools before making a decision.
Don't sell yourself short - the difference between high school sports and college sports is like the difference between an 8th grade mixer and a senior prom.