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.
Every kid in the United States seems to grow up with at least some knowledge of college basketball. I was no different than most kids, I loved college basketball and from as early as I could hold a ball I wanted to be a part of it. So, when I was heading towards the end of my sophomore year of high school and interest started being shown by a few schools I couldn't have been happier. I thought maybe I could go to a D-III program and play my way through school in order to at least experience being a part of that next level of competition.
As I headed into what would ultimately be the most exciting summer of my life, I had no idea just how insane my life would become over the next 15 months or just how many important and life changing decisions I would make. By summers end I was not just getting looks from local D-III programs; I was receiving mail and calls from some of the biggest names in college basketball and perhaps in all of sports.
I think the first few weeks of the real recruiting process taught me a lot about life. I realized that all that glitters isn't necessarily gold and that your gut is way more intelligent than your brain. I found myself getting caught up in the madness of calls from UNC and UCLA and if I had been talked to by Kentucky I would have had the trifecta of basketball royalty. I also found myself talking with a ton of so called mid-majors, the schools that may not headline Sports Center daily but that tend to be most exciting come March.
With the help of my parents, friends, coaches and anyone else who was willing to listen or give advice I quickly pushed aside the powerhouse programs. I had to be real with myself. I wasn't going to play at those schools and more than likely I would red-shirt, sit for two years then maybe see the court if I hadn't been recruited over. At the mid-majors I had a spot right away and saw myself as an integral part of what these programs could become over my four years and beyond.
Once I had narrowed down my search I decided on a conference. I made my last three schools, the University of Dayton, Saint Joseph's University and the University of Richmond. All three of these schools were in the Atlantic 10 and athletically offered what I wanted. I unofficially visited each school during my junior year in accordance with NCAA rules which don't allow for official visits until senior year. Each school was great at displaying its positives and really great at hiding its negatives. Still undecided I headed into my senior year hoping that a choice would be clear and ultimately the correct one would be made.
My first official visit was all that I needed to make my choice. I walked onto the University of Richmond campus and something felt right. I know it sounds ridiculous and cliché but I felt at home. I had a small sense of this in my other visits to the campus but I had always brushed it off as just being excited. I didn't feel as if I was forcing myself in to a role at Richmond, rather that the slot for me was there and I could just fit right in. That night I committed to the University of Richmond and had a new home.
I was asked throughout my years at Richmond if I ever regretted my choice of school. People would point out that Dayton was winning conference championships and Saint Joseph's was going undefeated and achieving top five national rankings. I could always and will always be able to look at them and honestly say that I have no regrets. Even though we may not have won as many games at Richmond as I could have elsewhere it doesn't matter. College was so much more than wins and losses. College was an adventure and an opportunity to explore who I was and really begin to forge my life.
Make the choice for you. No one else will have to live with the decision you make like you will. The school you choose and program you become a part of will become a part of you, make sure that it represents the type of person you are and the type of person you want to become.
Listen. There are a lot of people who may want to give you advice and the vast majority of them are willing to do so because they really do care about you. Take the opportunity to listen to others ideas and perspectives and use them not as a replacement for your own but as a supplement.
Trust yourself. When you are going through the recruiting process you are at an age where the world isn't ready to trust you very often. Take that opportunity to trust yourself, if something feels right it likely is. Remember, your gut is far more intelligent than your brain.
When I first picked up a lacrosse stick in the 4th grade, I had no idea how many doors it would open. My parents, on the other hand, knew exactly what they were doing when they signed me up for my first lacrosse clinic. Every year they heard of more and more girls going to college on lacrosse scholarships and wanted to get in on the action. Luckily for them, I fell in love with the sport.
Summer camps and winter clinics dominated my free time. Not only was I getting better at lacrosse, I was being seen and taught by coaches from some of the most dominant lacrosse schools in the country. By my sophomore year in high school, letters began arriving from coaches. I sent countless emails and letters to every D-I and D-III program I had even the slightest interest in. My junior year was a whirlwind of questionnaires and emails, but during the summer before my senior year I had narrowed my list down to three schools.
I was offered official visits at Duke, James Madison University, Cornell and the University of Richmond. I declined the official visit to Cornell (too cold!), and packed my bags for my big trip South. James Madison was my first visit and one I made primarily to please my father who had fallen in love with the school and was convinced that I would too. He was wrong. I meshed well with the team and with the coaching staff, but something didnt feel right. Plus, I secretly knew I was going to commit to Duke and be a Blue Devil and a Cameron Crazy and live it up in Durham for four amazing years. Wrong again. After building it up for four years, my visit to Duke was a complete disappointment and I felt confused and frustrated at the end of my visit. I was running out of schools! Why had I turned down Cornell? Richmond had been my last choice, and I begrudgingly left my high school friends for one last weekend to visit the school. Even though the campus had just been decimated by a hurricane, it was beautiful. The team was amazing and the students were unbelievably nice. Everything just felt right. I gave my verbal commitment before leaving the campus.
Do not turn down a school just cause. I am still kicking myself for turning down Northwestern University three time defending National Champions - simply because I had never heard of them and they were from Illinois (everyone knows the only good teams are on the East Coast!).
I highly recommend taking all of your official visits. If I had had it my way, I would have committed to Duke before even taking an official visit and it would have been the biggest mistake of my life.
Lastly, go into each visit with an open mind and be polite to the people who are hosting you. Being courteous and respectful will get you far in life, and in the recruiting process.
Have fun, and good luck! Its a crazy time, but its definitely worth it in the end.
When I was in eighth grade I decided that I wanted to get a basketball scholarship to college. At that point, I had read about high school girls from my city that had received full basketball scholarships, so I assumed it wasn't a difficult process. I started watching a lot more women's basketball games. I went to UC Santa Barbara games, and watched the big college teams play on TV, like UConn, Duke, Tennessee. I watched players like Sue Bird, Chamique Holdsclaw and Diana Taurasi play. I then found out that if you weren't a top 10 player in the nation, college coaches weren't begging you, it was a much more involved process than I had imagined.
In my sophomore year of high school, with the help of my AAU coach, I started making lists of my target schools. First, I decided what areas (cities/regions) I was interested in. Then I looked into the conferences and schools in those areas. I was sure to be very realistic about the conferences and schools that I looked into. I knew that if I sent game tapes to Tennessee, Duke, or Stanford, I wasn't going to get any responses so I wasn't going to waste time and money doing that. I also took the time to look at teams' rosters. As a point guard, I liked to read about each teams' point guard. Then I sent out letters, my basketball schedules and a game tape to those targeted schools. Some schools showed interest after watching game film and others never responded, but I continued this process throughout my junior year.
The summer before my senior year in high school, I spent traveling to NCAA sanctioned tournaments with my AAU basketball team. There were college coaches from all divisions and all areas of the United States present at these tournaments. To my surprise, several D-I college coaches expressed interest in me. Most of those schools were at the lower end of their conferences, but I didn't care.
In the fall of my senior year, I started narrowing down my targeted schools. The NCAA allows prospective student-athletes to take five official visits to college campuses. They also allow "home visits" in which a college coach is allowed to visit the recruit's home. I had about four different coaches visit my home. This was great because it gave my family an opportunity to meet those coaches and ask questions also. In addition, I scheduled five official visits and had planned on taking all of those visits.
My first visit was to the University of Richmond in Virginia. I had the opportunity to tour the athletic facilities, play pick-up basketball with the team, and socialize with the coaches and players for a weekend. I enjoyed everything the school had to offer. My next visit was to the University of Pacific in Northern California. It was the same itinerary as my last visit and I enjoyed everything the school had to offer.
After taking my second visit, I realized early that the University of Richmond was the "right fit" for me. It's tough to say what I especially liked about the school, the team or the coaching staff, but this is where I wanted to go. I canceled my three remaining official visits and a year later started my freshman year at the University of Richmond, where I spent four great years as a student-athlete.
Always maintain a very good relationship with any and all coaches that you talk to, even if you don't choose to play for that coach, you never know when you may want to contact him/her again.