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?
Playing field hockey on the D-1 level was always a lifelong dream of mine since before I can remember. Obviously at such a young age, college athletics seemed to be in the distant future, but even so I knew that it was definitely a passion that I wanted to pursue. Throughout middle school, field hockey and other sports seemed to be a mere after school activity where I could get together with friends, socialize and have fun while playing sports. As I participated in numerous camps, clinics, travel and indoor teams, my athletic career became more serious and I started to focus my attention on my success in field hockey.
I remember the summer before my freshmen year of high school like it was yesterday. While majority of my friends were traveling, enjoying their summer break as most kids do, my summer was a bit different. I was determined to not only make the high school team, but I wanted to make the varsity team as a freshmen. With endless encouragement from my parents and family members, I spent that summer preparing myself mentally and physically for the dreaded field hockey pre-season. So I trained every day with older girls who I knew on the high school team as well as with my father who has been a huge factor in my success in achieving my goals as a student athlete. When I opened the letter after three weeks of tryouts in the grueling August heat, I was ecstatic when I read Congratulations Tara, you are a member of Villa Maria Academy Varsity Field Hockey Team. All my hard work and determination had paid off. This was the moment in my life where I really knew I wanted to play D-1 sports; I knew that I wanted to have this feeling of accomplishment again. I made the decision that I was going to train and work my hardest for the next four years so I could play field hockey at a D-1 University.
My junior and senior year I looked into potential colleges both near and far away from home. I was pretty certain that I wanted a school similar in size to my high school, but I wasnt sure how far away from home I wanted to travel. I remember sitting around the kitchen table with my mom and one friend of mine listing reasons why I did not want to leave home. My mom encouraged me to not limit my options to schools in the area because part of the college experience is going away to new places and experiencing new things. So I took her advice and visited schools all up and down the east coast, both near and far.
I looked into schools with good academic reputations, but I knew that the team and coach would play a huge factor in my final decision. I attended a National Field Hockey tournament during high school in California and Florida where college coaches from all over the country came to recruit and scout for their respected programs. I had played in this tournament since freshmen year of high school and therefore had a lot of contact with a wide variety of coaches in all different levels of competition. This gave me an advantage in my recruiting process.
After receiving an overload of information from coaches at all different types schools, I narrowed my list to five or six potential colleges that I knew I was interested in. The list included Drexel University, James Madison University, St Josephs University, University of Richmond and Providence College. After taking official visits to all of these schools and meeting the team and speaking with the coaches, I had a pretty good feeling of where I saw myself.
I had wonderful visits on all my officials. After each one I would come home and write down all my likes and dislikes from the weekend. I would list things for example like my feeling about the team, my first impression of the coach, the location of the school, and other outside activities and opportunities the school offered in case field hockey did not work out.
After four visits, I was almost certain that I wanted to attend James Madison University. I liked the team and the coaches, and it seemed to have everything that I was looking for, despite the fact that the size of the university was completely opposite to what I was used to. However, I thought I could handle it. I had one official left to the University of Richmond in late December of that year.
As soon as I walked onto the campus for my visit, I was amazed at how beautiful it was and I immediately had a great impression and feeling about the school. As soon as I met the girls who I was staying with on my official, all my initial nerves were calmed and I felt that I could fit in right away. They made me feel very comfortable, they were very informative answering all and any of the questions that I had, and they seemed to be everything I was looking for. The head coach had a reputation of being very tough, but the combination of the assistant coaches and her seemed like a great balance. After spending the weekend with the team and meeting majority of the team, I was so excited because I really felt like I could see myself as a part of the team. Before leaving the visit, I had a meeting with the head coach which really sold me. I left the meeting with a feeling of comfort and relief which signaled to me that this could be it!
After coming home from the University of Richmond I was almost certain that thats where I saw myself fitting in the best. I took two weeks to make sure I thought through the choice I was about to make regarding the next four years of my life. After some long hard thought and after asking myself over and over again can you see yourself as a Spider or a Duke, I had a feeling of reassurance and knew that University of Richmond was the best place for me. It had everything that I was looking for, I loved the team and the reputation of the school sold itself. I also knew that if for some reason field hockey did not work out, I would be happy at the school regardless.
I hope this gives a little insight into my experience and the process I went through to end up as a Richmond Spider. I have no regrets. The University of Richmond has been my home away from home and I would never change my college experience for anything else. Best of luck in your decision making!
Visit as many schools as you can and take all five of your official visits if the opportunity is there. Even though you may not want to spend your final weekends in high school traveling in the car with your parents to colleges, do it! The more you see, the better idea you will have of what you like and dislike.
Listen to your parents advice because whether or not you want to hear what they have to say, they know you the best and despite our stubbornness to want to make the decision on our own, they will be very helpful in this process.
Do not make your choice on schools because of where your friends or boyfriend may be going or because you know the most people there rather than another school. The college experience is about meeting new people and having new experiences
Do not make a decision based on a coach because coaches come and go. Choose a school that you can be happy and successful at in both your sport, academic and social life. Balance is the most important thing.
My whole life I knew I wanted to go to Notre Dame. I researched other schools but it was only to please my mom; I knew Notre Dame was the place for me. I started my recruiting process by throwing my eggs all into one basket big mistake! One thing I didnt realize that I know now, recruiting is based on having what the team needs. If youre a pitcher and the school already has 3 stud pitchers, start looking at others squads that need pitching in the next few years. In my case, Notre Dame didnt need a catcher so I wasnt a high priority. It didnt work out there.
Pay attention to your gut when youre on visits. I visited Hillsdale College in Southeastern Michigan. It is a small D-2 school with extremely nice facilities. The date was September 11, 2001. I watched the second plane collide into the towers from a computer lab, surrounded by college students, none of whom I knew. Bless their hearts, they tried to make the visit continue, doing their best to sell the school, but there was nothing they could do, I couldnt attend there because it was such a traumatic day.
My next visit was destiny. After my quest for Notre Dame crumbled in the summer before my senior year I sent out letters to any school I had time to research. On all my letters I had copied the schools emblem and put it right in the middle on top, making it look like official business. The coaches loved it! The school I fell in love with was Loyola University Chicago. I was looking for a program that would help me improve but where I could also have an impact in my first year and beyond. I truly loved my future teammates and that is crucial; youll be spending an enormous amount of time with them. The coach was genuine and even though she did tell me she was recruiting another catcher to make me hurry my decision process, I later found out there was no other girl. The school had the program I wanted and the location as well. All in all, there were many ways in which I clicked with this program.
If I had rested my decision only on the head coach, I would have been lost when I found out that the coach took an assistant coaching position at Michigan State University weeks before I was to begin my freshman year. I eventually did transfer to the University of Michigan because too many things started changing at Loyola. I no longer fit there and I needed a place to belong. Its a scary leap, transferring, but it isnt the end of the world. I helped win a National Championship and was an All-American my senior year.
Do your research
Listen to your gut
Have faith that everything will work out in the end
Initially, I had no intentions to swim in college and only swam because it was fun and I enjoyed the competition. However, once I got to high school I realized I might be able to get more out of swimming then fun and competition, so I started to swim year round for a team outside of Richmond. As time went on I outgrew my team and switched to a more competitive team and participated in many more meets. I had goals of swimming in college and needed to get the most out of each team I swam for and each meet I was involved in.
By my junior year of high school I was talking to different friends I had made in the swim community. Theses friends all swam in college and I immediately was interested in their programs. Since I was not a national star I took it upon myself to make contact with as many schools as possible. I emailed schools from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big East Conference, and even the Southeastern Conference. Surprisingly most returned my emails. I had originally set up visits with Virginia Tech, University of Pittsburgh, North Carolina State University, University of South Carolina and University of Alabama. I ended up only taking official visits to University of Pittsburgh and North Carolina State University though. These were my top two schools so I decided signing early was important to me and I did not want to chance giving away a spot on these two schools teams if I did not sign early.
I enjoyed both schools and the academic and athletic opportunities they offered, but my decision was easy. I chose North Carolina State University because of the family environment. I really liked the coaching staff and knew I would fit in with the close knit team. It is very important to think about getting along with team when choosing a school since when you pick a school you really do pick a family. I eat, live, and train with my teammates on a daily basis. We dont spend more than a couple hours apart ever in day so its important that you feel comfortable with the team.
I am so glad I chose North Carolina State University. The coaching staff and team have helped me to better myself as an athlete and a student. Ive made my best friends over my time here and I would not trade it for anything. My teammates will always be there for me and I would do the same. Ill always be a part of this team and we will share more together than just competition.
Start the process as early as possible
Do your research about the school from an academic and athletic standpoint
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.
When I decided that I wanted to play lacrosse in college the entire college search process changed. Not only did I need to find a school that fit what I was looking for academically, I also needed to find one that had a lacrosse program I was interested in and that was interested in me. I had not idea what schools would want me to play for them or if any even would, which was completely overwhelming. I found out on July 1st, the day coaches are aloud to call you according to NCAA rules, that I had options.
In starting the college search I looked at everything and eventually decided that I did not want a small school so anything under about 4,000 students was not for me. I knew I wanted a campus that was active and friendly and had the academics that I was interested in.
Luckily I had initial lacrosse interest from a variety of schools and realized I had an opportunity to play at some pretty decent D-1 lacrosse programs. I then started speaking with a lot of schools and taking trips, some official and others unofficial, to get a better idea of what I wanted in a program and school.
Personally, I was not a big fan of speaking to coaches on the phone and the recruiting process stressed me out. It is tough to make a decision when you are not really sure what exactly you want, but you will figure it out. I looked at schools as different as Ohio State University and Brown University, but eventually after my visit to James Madison University I decided I had found the place that fit me. I really enjoyed my four years there and was lucky to have the opportunity to play a sport in college.
I would recommend using all your official visits if you are offered them and taking unofficial ones if you are not. Being able to meet the team and see the school when it is full of students is invaluable in helping you decide.
It wasnt until my sophomore year of high school when I realized I was capable of playing basketball at the Division 1 level. I remember distinctly creating three new goals for my basketball career that year. The first of which was to play basketball at the Division 1 level. Second, I wanted to become a member of the Canadian National Basketball Team. Third, was to continue on after college to play professional basketball. Once I established these three major goals, I needed to make sure I attended the college that would put me in the best possible position to accomplish all three of my goals.
I was fortunate enough to display some of my talents at a few well-known showcase tournaments and I began to be contacted by Division 1 schools. Some programs just sent letters; others phone calls, and some both letters and phone calls. After researching all the schools that had contacted me, which included location, history, academic background, coaching history, athletic departments history and so on, I was able to narrow it down to the four schools for official visits. At the time I thought that I would be visiting the University of Montana, University of Richmond, Boston College, and Notre Dame.
I had been in close contact with all four of these schools and their basketball programs for a number of months before taking my first visit, which was to University of Montana. I took this visit with my entire family because I wanted them to all share this first experience with me. We had a great visit and I loved the school and the surrounding atmosphere. University of Montana was a school that I was familiar with because I had attended a few of their summer basketball camps so I was comfortable with the coaching staff and players. Attending University of Montana would also allow me to stay close to home and the ability to drive home on occasion was appealing to me.
My next visit was to the University of Richmond. The second that I stepped onto the campus I had an extraordinary feeling of comfort and security. I loved the campus and the arena where the basketball team played. After having the opportunity to meet the coaching staff and my potential future teammates, I knew Richmond was the school for me. There was a sense of family and unity within the program, which was important to me, especially since I was going to be so far away from home. I met with the academic adviser on my visit and figured out what field of studies might be of interest to me if I decided to attend the school.
I had a great visit to University of Richmond and after returning home; and speaking with my family along with a lot of prayer I knew that I wasnt going to take up the offers on my other two visits. University of Richmond was the school for me. I thanked University of Montana, Boston College and Notre Dame University for their strong interest and continued forward with my vision of attending University of Richmond. I weighed all of the positives and the negatives and realized that University of Richmond would be the best place to help me achieve all of my goals with basketball and at the same time I would be receiving a top-notch education.
After my visit I committed to the University of Richmond. I continued to build a relationship with not only the coach, but also the players. I kept in consistent contact with two players over the remaining months of my senior year of high school and the summer leading into my freshman year of college. The following fall, upon arriving to the University of Richmond I was only a freshman but because of my previous communication I felt like I had been a member of the team and program for much longer.
I feel extremely blessed to have been given the opportunity to attend the University of Richmond and to be a Division 1 athlete. I was able to achieve all three of my goals by playing basketball at the University of Richmond. I was also able to receive a great education and meet some outstanding life long friends.
Seek advice from your family and those close to you who have gone through the decision making process before you
Make a choice that will make you happy! You can always transfer but it is a difficult process. Dont make a decision on your school because you are trying to please someone else. You have to live with it for the next 4-5 years
If you are serious and passionate about your sport, then go to a school that is going to allow you to play and become a better athlete
Make sure that the school you go to allows you to have a life outside of your sport
Make sure that you get along with your teammates! You will be spending more time with these people then you have ever spent with anyone in your life other than maybe your immediate family. You want to be able to enjoy your time around these people and build strong, firm relationships.
I remember my recruiting period as being a total blast. I was behind the ball in getting to know colleges and gathering an idea of whered Id like to go to school. So through recruiting camps, and receiving letters from different colleges, it opened up a whole world of colleges I had never thought of.
My recruiting process began by mailing out letters and resumes to the coaches of the schools I was initially interested in my junior spring. I was pretty certain I wanted to attend a bigger school in an urban atmosphere. After a few weeks of correspondence and speaking with different coaches that summer, I had a sizeable list of schools where both I and the coach there shared a mutual interest. As a recruit youre only allowed five official visits to D-I schools, so I had to make some early choices.
Initially, my list included schools of every size and shape, from Washington College to the Naval Academy. I had a wide range of choices. I quickly narrowed down my choices to three schools, Boston College, Dartmouth College, and Brown University. Though Dartmouth College didnt fit my initial criteria, it was recommended to me by one of my high school coaches whom I had a lot of respect for, so I figured I would at least explore the idea.
My interest in Boston College stemmed from the fact that my older brother had played there. I had already spent a lot of time there and didnt really need to take an official recruiting trip. I had essentially been taking recruiting trips there since I was 14. I knew what the school was about and knew I would really like it there.
The only two official visits I took were to Brown University and Dartmouth College, on consecutive weekends my senior fall, and I couldnt have visited two schools that were more different from each other. I enjoyed my weekend at Brown University. I got along great with the coaching staff, was really impressed by the athletic and academic facilities, and definitely felt like I could have gone there. However, the one catch was that socially, I didnt really click with anyone I met there outside of the lacrosse team. I came away weighing the pros and cons it was a top caliber lacrosse program, but would I enjoy my time there off the lacrosse field?
The following week I traveled to Hanover to visit Dartmouth College small school, remote, and not anywhere near anything resembling a city. I figured there was no chance this school was for me, but I figured, What the heck? At least it will be a weekend away from home. My first impressions were that it was one of the most beautifully classic campuses I had ever seen. It was small, pastoral, with the central green surrounded by the old brick and tin roof buildings, and the clock tower crowning the far end of the green. It also didnt hurt that it was the peak of the fall foliage season.
I met with the coaches after my arrival and got a tour of the athletic facilities. Right off the bat, I knew that the head coach and I would never have a great relationship his style of coaching was very different from the style I best responded to. On top of that, the facilities at Dartmouth College at the time were pretty poor, especially next to those at Brown University and Boston College. My first afternoon there didnt do much to change my initial lack of interest in the school. I then spent the weekend with some guys from the team, and I was immediately struck at how happy everyone was at this school. The more I spoke with people, both athletes and non-athletes; I was amazed how almost no one had a bad thing to say about their experiences there. And the more time I spent in social settings there, the more comfortable I was with the people around me, especially compared to my time at Brown University.
I spent a weekend at Dartmouth College and came away with essentially the opposite impression of my time at Brown University I wasnt thrilled with the athletic side of the college, but I was enamored by the academic and social structures.
Now came the hard part the decision. Generally, college coaches will require a commitment from you before they will take your name through the admissions process. Both of the staffs at Brown University and Dartmouth College were pretty clear, I wasnt being admitted without committing to play. I was offered an academic scholarship by Boston College, so I knew I was in there. I agonized for a week over my choices, pouring over each colleges information package, plowing through college selection books. I was trying to find a very hard, quantifiable reason why I should choose one over the other.
Each had something I liked, as well as things I didnt like. I loved that Boston College was in a big city with a big time sports program and was offering me a full academic ride, but I felt compelled to get out from under my brothers shadow and blaze my own path. I loved the lacrosse program at Brown University and its campus in Providence. At Dartmouth College, I knew Id love my time there socially and in classes, but was not excited to play in a lacrosse program with those facilities and a coach I had a bad feeling about.
In the end, I made probably the most mature decision Ive ever made. In a moment of unexpected clarity, I simply asked myself, If I get hurt and cannot continue to play lacrosse, where will I be happiest? When I looked at it from this angle, it was such a simple decision for me. Against my initial requirements of a bigger school in a big city, I chose the small, rural college in New Hampshire. For once, I put my academics ahead of my athletics. It was the best decision I ever made. As fate would have it, I ended up sustaining a career ending injury my sophomore year and I loved every single day I spent on that campus for four years.
Be on your best behavior at all times. College coaches are just as concerned about who you are off the field as on. I received a letter from one coach, essentially terminating their interest in me. I later found out it was because they saw me slam my stick on the ground in frustration during a game. There are so many athletes out there these days that coaches are looking for reasons to cross you off their list.
Dont pigeonhole yourself to one type of school. What youre interested in as a sophomore or junior in high school can quickly change as you mature.
Dont choose a school based solely on the sport you play. If suddenly you cant play anymore, you sure dont want to be stuck at a school you cant stand outside of your sport.
If you are really interested in a school, but are not hearing from the coach, dont give up. Coaches love players that are persistent and show a real interest and determination to play for their program.
Lastly, dont play one sport in high school. Collegiate coaches want athletes, not specialists.
Throughout high school, I never had any dreams or visions of playing a college sport. I had always been a pretty good basketball player because of my size, but had never played football until my freshman year. I never imagined that it would be my eventual ticket to a free education and the best experience of my life.
Though I enjoyed basketball the most, I just seemed to be a natural at football, because of my leadership and my never-quit attitude. My team always seemed to thrive on the energy that I brought into each and every game. After my junior year, I all of a sudden started receiving awards and recognition from out of nowhere, which was the first time that the thought crossed my mind of potentially playing at the next level. Though I was definitely not the strongest or fastest player on the field, I never ever quit on any play and kept my intensity and my team's energy up for the entire game. I had a solid work ethic and that is one of the main things that college coaches look for in their recruits.
I was very excited when all of the recruiting letters began pouring in, but it was very overwhelming. I received letters from top programs like Penn State University, all the way down to small D-3 schools. I never wanted to count any schools out however, because things in the recruiting world can change very quickly.
The whole recruiting process was the most stressful time in my life. I lost a lot of sleep at night. I saw the University of Richmond, and new that it was a perfect fit for me. The players, the coaches, the school, everything about it was just right. However, at the time I had a high school girlfriend, and was very close to settling on Towson University, because it was much closer to home. However, I never got the same sense of team, or sense that I belonged at Towson, like I did at Richmond. I realized that Richmond was where I needed to be, and it turned out to be the best decision I have ever made.
Whatever you do, don't look at the immediate impact of your decision. Odds are that you will get homesick; you will be overwhelmed with work, and the speed of the game, and the pressure from the coaches. Getting through all of these things will shape who you are as a person, and will make you into a much stronger individual. You will be able to handle life's challenges more easily having been a college athlete, and you will have no regrets.
Almost every college program offers some sort of camp in the summer. This is basically a legal way for coaches to see what players can do up close, though they are very limited by NCAA regulations. If there are any schools that you are really interested in, make a great effort to get to their camp. This will let the coaches know that you are interested in them, just as they are interested in you.
You should also make every effort possible to get your name out into the recruiting world. Join recruiting websites, make video tapes, and call coaches. It is okay to brag as much as you possibly can; it will only help you out in the long run. Treat your senior season as an audition, as every game could be your ticket to a free ride. If you make a mistake on the field, don't feel like scouts are going to pack it up and give up on you. Everybody makes mistakes, just make up for it on the next play or in the next game. As I said, there is NO replacement for hustle on the field.
Recruiting trips after the season are one of the most fun times that you are going to have throughout the whole journey. You are only allowed five official visits so be sure to pick schools that you would legitimately want to consider going to.
Some things to consider on your official visit:
School. Odds are you will not go pro. Will you end up with a degree that you will be proud of once you graduate?
Location. Is it too far from home? Too close? This is important, as many freshmen will get homesick and a weekend trip home can be enough to help you make the gradual transition.
Coaches. These are your new parents. Be sure that they are honest and truly care about their players. Don't fall for the old "come here, and you will play right away" line, which is used frequently to lure in recruits. If you are good enough, you will prove that you can play right away on the field, not through promises.
Players. These are your new brothers and will become the closest friends that you will ever make. You will go through the toughest few years of your life with them. Be sure that there is a sense of team among the players. Ask them all the questions that you can, about coaches, school, social life, etc.
I knew pretty early on that I wanted to play soccer in college and potentially pursue a career in the sport after graduation. Unlike most student-athletes looking to play a collegiate sport however, I did not start my school search until my senior year of high school. I knew of the top programs throughout the country because I heard the same names making it to the NCAA tournament year in and year out, but it was not until October of my senior year that I began contacting programs and receiving interest from other schools as well.
Playing for an elite club team in the Washington, DC area, we played in several tournaments known as College Showcase Tournaments. Only the best teams applying are accepted based on previous regular season and tournament records, and several dozen scouts and coaches show up to watch the games over the weekend. Through these tournaments I began talking with several schools that I previously would not have considered, such as University of California San Diego, College of the Holy Cross, Georgetown University, and George Washington University. It was not until later that the University of Richmond came into the mix.
I took official visits to College of the Holy Cross, Georgetown University, and George Washington University; reluctantly, I went to the University of Richmond at the request of my mother. I had a different experience at each school and received different feelings from each schools coaching staff and team, which is why it is very important to visit any place you are seriously considering. Out of my top three choices, I eliminated Georgetown University almost immediately after I returned home because I did not feel it was the right fit for me. I had a great time at George Washington University, but I was very impressed with the coaches and players at the University of Richmond and even though I visited on a blistering cold day in March, I still thought the campus was beautiful.
To the chagrin of the Georgetown University and George Washington University coaches, I signed with the University of Richmond. I remained laid back throughout the whole process, and signed because the University of Richmond had the complete package for me: a Division I school that was both academically and athletically strong, a quality soccer program, and a chance for me to make a major impact in my freshman year.
Of course, everyone wants to win championships, but I wanted to be a major contributing factor towards that, so I said no to several top quality programs that showed interest, such as the University of Virginia and Wake Forest University. I had a very productive four years at the University of Richmond, both on the field and in the classroom, and am very happy with the decision I made to attend. I even got to spend a year living my dream and playing in Europe after graduation.
As long as you know what complete package you are looking for in a school and program, there is no need to stress your final decision. You wont regret it.
Start your school search early! While the right school eventually came knocking for me, I am sure several opportunities were missed by waiting so long. Most athletes tend to have their schools finalized before winter break of their senior year of high school.
Do not be selective in your initial school search. You may find that a dream school you have had for years just isnt the right fit for you. Be sure to have several different options to pursue.
Know what you want before you go after it. I wanted to be an impact freshman, not just to be on a perennial championship team, so that helped me narrow down my list of potentials.
Academics come first, for good reason. Your opportunities will expand with how well you do in the classroom, and you wont have to worry about not being accepted to play for your dream program for academic reasons. Also, if a school cannot offer you an athletic scholarship, you may be able to earn it through academics.
The best piece of advice that I have ever received while being recruited came from my high school lacrosse coach. It is something every athlete needs to ask themselves. But, what if I get hurt and cant play, would I still want to go to this college without being on the team?
At the invincible age of 17, many do not give this question enough consideration. After the endless hours of practice, letter writing, camps, college visits and flipping through more pamphlets of schools that you did not know even existed being injured is normally the last thing on your mind. You are still debating who has the best program, what year will you touch the grass on the field, scholarship potential, and will I get along with the girls on the team. However, deciding on a college is a decision that is going to impact you for the next four years and beyond. Granted no one goes into their decision thinking, if I tear my ACL this is exactly the school I would want to be at. Rather, make sure you are taking it all in. It is so easy to wear blinders as a recruit especially because the coach, team and whatever activities are lined up during your trip are all there to sway you into deciding to come to that school. Buyer be warned, this could all be taken away with a career ending injury. Then you have more free time on your hands then you know what to do with and you are amongst the pool of regular students. So make sure that you like the school, its climate, its student body, extra activities and most importantly, that you leave with the education you came there to earn.
I have experienced college athletics from several different perspectives. The high school senior trying to find the best fit, the collegiate athlete experiencing things first hand, and now I am a college coach. Of course with "hinds sight always being 20/20" I would love to do it all again but in the opposite order. Going into my college experience knowing what I know now would have made some big differences in my story. That is not to say I did not enjoy myself, or have any regrets with the route I chose.
I graduated high school with several options, I could go to a mid-level Division I school and play soccer which was something I always wanted to do, however I was also being recruited at the Division II and III levels for basketball and lacrosse. I knew for a long time that soccer was what I wanted to pursue in college, so that decision wasn't the hard part, although putting down the basketball for good after high school did prove to be difficult. The hard part as it is for most high school seniors was choosing the school that was best for me.
Coming from the Philadelphia area, I wanted to stay relatively close to home. In the beginning I was talking to St. Joe's University, Villanova University, Drexel University, Lasalle University, and University of Delaware. As time went on I added some schools and dropped some others. My final selection came down to University of Delaware and Villanova University, both of which are Division I. Also, some Division II schools including West Chester University, East Stroudsburg University, and Millersville University. I had given some serious thought to two D-III schools in Virginia, but decided it was too far from home for me.
I went on my five official visits and narrowed the selection down even more. I ended up attending Millersville University in Lancaster County. It was a big change from my home town, and I went through a really tough adjustment period my first semester. I was looking at transferring about mid-way through the season when I wasn't starting and wasn't particularly happy with my playing time. However, I decided to give it another shot and stick it out and see what became of it and I was really glad I did. The campus was pretty big, and very nice. The school had about 8,000 students and there were always things to do, and good people to hang out with. While playing Division II lacked a lot of the perks and glamour of playing Division, the level was still remarkably high. I would say with the exception of my first year, I had an amazing experience playing at Millersville University, and it was because of the great teammates I had along the way.
Go on an overnight visit to whatever school you want to go to before you enroll! Whether you are looking to play sports, or just looking for a good education, the most important part of finding the right school for you, is finding a place where you can see yourself for the next 4-5 years of your life. Finding a place where you can fit in and feel at home is very important for your happiness.
Make sure you get a good impression from the coach of your particular school. Unfortunately there are a lot of players out there who do not like their coaches much. Many of them are justified in doing so. If you get a chance to talk to the players about the coach, do so! Learn as much as you can, you will find that a lot of the coaches out there are past their time, or really just don't know much about the game. Finding a school where you can respect the coach is important.
Choose a good academic fit. At the end of the day most of us probably aren't going pro in our sports. So chose a school that is going to accommodate your academic needs, because the bigger picture is more important in the long run than anything!
Lacrosse for me began in fourth grade. All of my friends had just signed up to play for a Green Hornets team, our local sports organization, and I decided I didnt want to miss out. From then on I began to realize how popular of a sport it was within my area and how big a part it was going to play in the rest of my life.
After I made my high schools junior varsity lacrosse team my freshman year, I began to notice that almost all of the seniors on both the girls and guys varsity teams had been offered the chance to play in college, with many of them being for Division I teams. I wanted to have this same chance.
I started to attend overnight lacrosse camps the summer after my freshman year. Attending the camps was advantageous in several ways; they allowed you to visit different campuses, learn from experienced players and coaches, and gain valuable recruiting visibility. Many of the camps offered today not only have coaches from the school where they are hosted, but they also have coaches from other schools so you are able to meet a variety of different coaches.
The next three summers were filled with camps and tournaments. I was doing everything I could so that I could be seen by any coach that saw potential in me. I had no idea where I wanted to go, all I knew was that I didnt want to go anywhere that was going to be too cold and I wanted to play lacrosse; so needless to say my mind was wide open to any option.
During my sophomore year I put together a player profile, sort of like a resume but for sports. I included my contact information, GPA, SATs, position, awards, and any camps or tournaments I had attended or was planning to attend. I sent these profiles to any college coachs email address I could get my hands on; I just wanted to get my name out there. After a while I began to get a lot of correspondence through the mail. Schools would send their information along with a questionnaire for me to fill out. When July 1st of my senior summer finally approached, I just remember being so nervous to see if any coaches would actually call me. I received a couple of calls and decided to take three of them up on their offers for me to attend official visits.
My first visit was to Penn State University. I remember driving onto the campus and being in awe of how big the school was. The team was nice and I had met the assistant coaches several times at various camps so I felt comfortable and ready to learn more about the school. My next visit was to the University of Richmond. This visit was the weekend directly following my Penn State University visit so I was feeling a little stressed, but that all changed when I pulled up on the campus. My Mom and Dad drove me down for the visit. We got to the school a little early so we were able to drive around and take a look at the campus. Everyone told me that youll know which school is right for you the moment you step on the campus. I thought that was ridiculous and that would never happen, but to my surprise I was wrong. The campus was gorgeous, the coaches made me feel wanted and important, and the team seemed like such a cohesive group. I was sold, but I still had one more visit to take. My last visit was to Loyola College in Maryland. It was a short trip from my house and I ended up going at the same time as two of my friends. The school was very similar to the University of Richmond and I loved the housing situation and their food services, but I decided that it was just a little too close to home and at the time, many girls from my high school already played there and I wanted more of a change.
I left Loyola College on a Sunday night and by Tuesday I had made my decision. I called Sue Murphy; the Head Womens Lacrosse Coach at the University of Richmond and told her I wanted to be a part of her team. She was very excited and helpful; she told me how to handle the other coaches that I was turning down. She said to be very kind and to send them a thank you note in the mail; with coaching changes and all conference nominations you never know who will have a say in your future lacrosse career. As soon as I hung up the phone I felt like a thousand pounds had been lifted off my chest, all my hard work had paid off. It was the beginning of October and my college decisions were already made, when everyone else was stressing I was able to sit back and enjoy the rest of my senior year, it was a great feeling.
Start early. Its never too soon to get your name out there and start communication with different coaches.
Attend Camps and Tournaments. Not only do they give you visibility, but they also give you valuable playing and learning experience.
Attend any Junior Days or Unofficial Visits you can. Take advantage of any chance you get to see a college campus or meet the coach or team.
Attend all of your Official Visits you have committed to. I have heard so many stories of players who almost didnt attend their last official visit which actually ended up being the school they attended.
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.
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