University of Portland '06 - Women's Tennis
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?
Good luck and choose wisely!
For more information check out the Active Recruiting 101 special section.