As juniors begin and seniors conclude the recruitment process, many feelings arise

Callie Hawkins

Beginning in the fall and continuing around this time of year, junior athletes across the nation are beginning to look at where they want to continue their career in college and begin the recruitment process. Simultaneously, seniors who have chosen this path are signing their college commitments and breezing through their final stretch of high school.

The recruitment process can be brutal, fun, hard and filled with ups and downs. Students are pressured by this addition to their academic workload and are pushed to find a healthy medium —a balance between school responsibilities, sports, family and their social life. The outcome for most who choose to athletically commit is exciting and relieving, but they must go through a long process to get there.

“While it was sometimes stressful and frustrating, I personally found the recruiting process really fun,” senior and University of Pennsylvania baseball commit Davis Baker said. “I got to visit a lot of unique places and colleges and play the sport I love along the way.”

Students usually communicate with the schools they are interested in and schedule a visit. Athletes play in camps, get to know the coaches and figure out which school is the right fit for them academically, geographically and athletically at these camps. But many times, these visits, along with commitments to club sports, interfere with a student’s school schedule and cause additional stress to get work done on time.

While it was sometimes stressful and frustrating, I personally found the recruiting process really fun. I got to visit a lot of unique places and colleges and play the sport I love along the way.

Davis Baker, senior baseball player

“Balancing school and this process is definitely tough because of the traveling and commitment it takes every weekend,” junior and lacrosse player Camryn Kowalewski said. “Emailing and communicating with my teachers has been a big part of me balancing as well as just taking advantage of the free time I’m giving to get work done.”

While these student athletes do have less free time, once the process is finished and the student has committed to a college they don’t have to go through a stressful college application process  like the majority of their peers. 

“Once I committed I was pretty much stress free,” senior and Washington and Lee tennis commit Rider Yeaman said. “It has for sure made me more relaxed about school and grades. But [playing] tennis is still stressful because you want to live up to the coaches standards and be prepared to play when you get there freshman year, so there is kind of some added pressure knowing you have to work hard and not let down your future team.”

Although the pressure of academics might lessen subsequent to officially committing to the school of one’s choice, in order to keep their side of the deal, the athletes must continue to perform well academically and practice and improve in their sport in order to be ready for the intensity of collegiate level sports.

“I think if you’re going to go play in college you have to be 100 percent committed to your club and school teams before you go,” Men’s Lacrosse Program Director Jay Sothoron said. “It’s not easy, and it’s a job, so you better love it in high school. You better be so passionate about it that you wouldn’t mind waking up at six everyday to go practice and lift, etc.”

Sothoron also assists any student athletes that wish to commit. As a previous Division I, II and III lacrosse coach, he is experienced in collegiate level sports. He advises and guides students in the process by suggesting camps, helping with school selection and communicating with the college coaches. While advising athletes, he notices the struggles the students have balancing all of their responsibilities.

“At our school, the good and the bad with it is, [the students] are asked to do so many things, with academics, clubs, sports, community service,” Sothoron said. “So yes, I think the stress that comes with recruitment is a product of the commitment to the sport here, but I also think the pressure of feeling the need to do so many things to put them on your college resumé, that’s a lot of pressure.”

And that’s where the help of the college guidance counselor’s come in. The counselor’s are a vital resource in every student’s college application process, but they are especially helpful with want-to-be college athletes.

“We’re always available for questions, even if a student had a question as early as freshman year,”Associate Director of College Guidance Elizabeth Clark said. “When all of the students are assigned to one of the three of [the counselors] in the spring of sophomore year, if a student athlete is already being recruited and has some questions about visits, or wants to talk, about the academic side and where they would fall for particular schools and things like that, we are always available for them to come and meet with us. We just want to make sure they are feeling comfortable throughout their process and get any questions that they may have answered.”

Although there are many resources that the school provides as assistance for these students to use, the process is primarily driven by the students themselves.

“The recruitment process is ultimately up to you, it’s your responsibility to send emails, go to camps and talk to coaches,” Kowalewski said. “But, when I need the extra help or push from my coaches or teammates it’s always there.”

As a junior, Kowalewski has completed the initial steps of the process and hopes to wrap it up soon, but she is taking her time to find the right school for her.

For students going through this  process Clark suggests to “take it all in stride.”

“You know, try not to let the process overwhelm you, but rather motivate you to do your absolute best that you can, but check in with yourself often, because it is hard, and utilize your resources and support systems throughout the process, because it’s not something you can do alone,” Clark said.

As Kowalewski sifts through her offers and talks with different schools, there are many aspects of the school that need to work well to find the school that is the best fit for her.

With three offers already on the table for Yeaman, it took him a while before he found the school he wanted to go to. “

After I visited W&L and the coach offered me [a spot], I immediately knew it was the right school and fit for me, and I didn’t hesitate to take the offer and commit over the other schools,” Yeaman said.

And the relief and joy of choosing the best fit for Kowalewski will come along with the weight coming off of her shoulders when she decides, along with other students who will choose how their future unfolds with the college and team of their choice.

One of the “happiest moments of [his] life,” was when Baker committed to the college of his choice.  “I felt like the last 12 years of learning just how to play the sport, the last 6 years of adding size and athleticism, the countless swings at a stationary baseball on a tee, and all the effort in general finally paid off,” Baker said. “I have had a set of goals for the sport since middle school, which were one: make varsity, two: make a specific club team, and three: commit somewhere, and it felt like a huge weight was lifted off my back to have finally completed the last goal.”

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