For nearly as long as I can remember I have been participating in sports. I grew up playing baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, tennis and hockey in various leagues in the St. Louis area and continued doing so after moving to Virginia. In middle school I no longer had time to keep up with all of them and focused on soccer and baseball, my stronger two sports. In high school, playing on the Virginia Olympic Development Team, club team, high school team and traveling for all of them became too much, thus baseball fell by the wayside.
I traveled around the United States and even Europe a few times for various soccer tournaments and showcases so adjusted quickly to seeing the sidelines not only covered with parents, but with numerous recruiters as well. While it was certainly nerve-racking and intimidating at first, it soon gave me extra motivation to perform my best every time I stepped on the pitch. Soon after that I started receiving letters from various D-1, D-2 and D-3 schools up and down the east coast. At first I just collected the letters since I hadn't yet started thinking about college.
When I started looking into schools, I considered colleges completely independent of soccer since I knew that I didn't want to attend a school solely based on that. I listed out my prospects and those that I had also heard from for soccer were then moved to the top of my list. I did not immediately dismiss schools that didn't fit both criteria, but eventually narrowed it down to three which did: University of Richmond, University of Kentucky and University of Notre Dame. That's when the real work started.
I went on visits to each school, touring the campus, meeting with coaches, experiencing the lifestyle, and talking with current students and players. After those visits, I was slightly leaning toward University of Kentucky and University of Richmond, but I still couldn't decide. I then turned to my parents for advice, and although they didn't push me toward one, I soon realized my choice. After all the money, time and travel they had put into my 15 years of soccer, I wanted to give them a chance to see it had paid off. They were my biggest fans and never wanted to miss a game. That was the slight edge that put University of Richmond over the top.
Don't limit your choices to colleges only for your sport.
Consider anything and everything since little things may ultimately help you decide.
Be honest and open with players you stay with and meet. They will often give you honest advice since they have gone through the same process.
Talk with the coaches about academics. You'll get an idea of how they feel about classes and how much they will support you academically.
Consider how you fit in with and like the players and coaches. You will spend an enormous amount of time with them.
It seemed as if all of the top junior tennis players in Southern California were bound for the premier Division I programs. Growing up playing competitively at both the sectional and national levels, I was on track to play for one of those top programs too. And thats exactly when the injuries kicked in.
In my junior year of high school I managed to tear the cartilage in my left wrist and get stress fractures in the tibia's in both of my legs. I was not able to play for six months and my hopes of playing for a PAC-10 team were gone.
Despite my frustration and discouragement, I had to start looking at some less glamorous colleges that I would consider attending. I was getting some letters of interest and did some research of my own. I came to realize that tennis wasnt everything. A good fit academically and socially were also very important to me. Based on scholarship offers, quality of the tennis teams and business schools, I ended up going on recruiting trips to three extremely different colleges in search of the perfect fit.
I went to George Washington University, which had great academics and was a cool city, but the urban campus wasnt for me. Next, was the University of Iowa, which had an awesome tennis team and was party central, but I didnt feel comfortable with the coach. Finally, the University of Portland, which gave me a good vibe and I loved the coach, but it rained a lot and the school was really small. All the schools had their pluses and minuses. How was I going to decide?
I initially wanted to go to George Washington because of its prestigious academics; unfortunately I just could not picture myself going there after the visit. It was not what I was looking for in a college. GW was out!
I had a great time at Iowa! I had friends that were going there, I liked the school spirit, the big football team and wanted to play for their top 25 tennis team. However, if I went there I would probably not play my freshman year, but I didnt care, I welcomed the challenge! After speaking with the girls on the team, none of them seemed to be too fond of the coach, which worried me. I wasnt sure about working hard to improve my game, but not being able to play in matches for a year. On top of that, I wasnt to excited about spending a few hours a day with an overly intense, disliked coach, which made Iowa start looking a little less glamorous. However, I still wanted to go there!
Finally there was Portland. I had never even heard of the school before I was being recruited, so I almost didnt even give it a chance. The coach was a friend of a friend, who came with a good recommendation. They had a pretty decent tennis team, a great business school and the campus looked beautiful. My parents actually pushed for me to check this school out, even though I would not have picked it as one of my top three. Despite being hesitant about playing indoors year round and attending a school with only 3,200 students, I decided to make the trip up there. A couple of the girls on the team picked me up from the airport and I instantly clicked with them. The coach went out of her way to spend time with me and show me around the school and the city. I spent a day attending some classes and really liked the professors, small classes and student interaction. I felt very welcomed by everyone, the coach seemed great, and I felt very engaged in the classes I attended.
I chose to go to the University of Portland and I loved my college experience athletically, academically and socially. Looking back, I am so glad I listened to my parents advice. They had my best interest in mind in trying to help me find a great fit, rather than choosing the college I wanted to attend based on their womens tennis team ranking.
Listen to your gut feeling - I tried to envision myself in a day in the life of a student athlete at each one of the schools.
Academics - Tennis was my passion for the time being, but I wasnt going pro. I needed to find the best academic fit to help me pursue my career ambitions of working in marketing and advertising.
The coach and team You will be spending most of your time with your coach and team. Your coach will become your mentor and your teammates will become your friends. Choose wisely!
I dont know if there is a right or wrong way to go about selecting a college, but I strongly recommend you taking time to think about why you really want to go to a certain school, is it for the glamor or because it is the most well-rounded fit for YOU?
I grew up in a basketball family. My dad played at Boston College and I remember being very young and watching him play in the local mens leagues. He would always let me come out on the court and shoot and dribble around. I knew from the moment I made my first basket that I loved the sport. I think growing up and seeing the love my dad had for the sport and hearing his stories of growing up playing basketball made me want to do the same.
As I progressed through school and dedicated more and more time to basketball I realized that I would be able to follow in my dads footsteps and play in college. The recruiting process for me was very interesting because I am an identical twin and grew up playing with my sister. When we both decided we wanted to play basketball in college we made a pact to play together. We would become a package deal to the collegiate basketball coaches. I think this decision, for the most part, played to our advantage. We were very similarly skilled and coaches loved the fact they could make one recruiting trip to watch two players.
My sister and I spent the last few years of high school playing our hearts out, getting our name out there to as many schools as we could, researching schools in various locations, sending game tapes and resumes, having numerous conversations nightly with coaches and scheduling campus visits. We also made many road trips all over the east coast.
Now at the age of 18 I was supposed to narrow down a huge list of schools and I had no idea how to do so when all I knew was that I wanted to play basketball in college. On top of that, after I spoke with each coach I thought I wanted to go to that school. At one point it became very overwhelming. I remember one night at dinner being close to tears. I just had no idea what to do and coaches were starting to give my sister and me deadlines for a yes or no answer. I thought, I am not going to be able to make up my mind and then I am going to end up playing no where. My dad, having gone through the same thing when he was 18 and being recruited, asked a few simple questions that helped with our decision:
What team do you see yourself practicing with every day for four years?
What coach do you see yourself playing for?
Can you imagine yourself at one of those schools without basketball because things can change and basketball can not be the one and only thing luring you to that school?
From these questions my sister and I narrowed it down to Rowan University. Rowan was close to home (so my parents could come to all the games), with great academics and a huge on-campus sports community. It was a great choice and I got a great education, made some amazing friends and got to play the sport I loved with my sister.
Trust me there is a school out there for you so dont be discouraged. And you will make the right choice!
I played football at the United States Naval Academy. How did I end up there? Well, that is my story, and it starts with my recruiting experience.
I have been blessed with enough ability to always be competitive in the majority of the sports I played. Sprouting up to a ripe 6 2, I played football since 5th grade. In high school, I was able to stand out on the field and have pretty impressive stats. As is the case with most aspiring athletes, I would excel in high school, but my size, speed and strength were a little off the mark and search radar for most of the big time football scouts.
I had initial interest from some good schools early my junior year, so I was at least optimistic with my chances that something would work out and I would get a partial if not full ride to a major D-1 school. Couple this with having the typical high school adolescent big fish in a small school syndrome and you had the recipe for some major disappointment and a rude awakening when none of the big name schools came knocking with offers. I was devastated or at least extremely surprised. I could not believe that no one wanted me to play D-1 football in college. On top of that, James Madison University, which is D-1 AA, asked me if I wanted to walk on!
I am not the sharpest pencil in the box, but I have great parents, who always made me hit the books and get good grades. So with a pretty good GPA and a decent SAT score I was pursued by a lot of the military service academies (West Point, Air Force Academy and Naval Academy). These were all D-1 football programs, so I seriously considered all of them. With my old man being a former alumni and player himself at the USNA (Class of 70), it did not take me too long to accept an admission letter to the Naval Academy.
I decided to go to the Naval Academy because it allowed me to play major D-1 football and play against some of the best teams in the country. Also, I would receive a good education, which would be free. Furthermore, my old man was a career Navy man himself, following in his footsteps seemed like a pretty good plan. Plus, having a job guaranteed for the first five years of leaving college was a huge plus!
I am very proud to have been a student-athlete at the Naval Academy. I have zero regrets and would not have traded my experience for anything.