Is College Recruitment Worth It?

Madie Hricik, Staff Writer

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With the winter season just days away from beginning competition, seniors in high school begin to start really start considering their likelihood on playing in college–if they so choose. It’s a big deal for tons of student-athletes and can create more than enough stress on top of college applications, scholarship competitions, and school/life balance. So what really is the benefit of committing to play in college over club or intramural? It’s a whirlwind of choices students have and seemingly little time to really sit and think everything through as they choose.

With the over 1700 students in Broad Run alone, there are hundreds of students who participate a sport during the school year. However, there’s only an average of 20 students class who commit to play a collegiate sport on any division level, making the percentage around 1.17% of a graduating class.  The NCAA reports that approximately six percent of the eight million high school athletes will commit to a college. Unfortunately, committing to a school requires a lot of different agreements set between the coaches and the recruited player. Many times a contract is revoked if the recruitee becomes injured or has a steep drop in grades. In some cases, the coaches find a more interesting player for their team.

The statistics are absolutely intimidating. Many athletes will put themselves out there to find that they just aren’t meant to play at the collegiate level. There is another option, however.  More and more high school athletes are turning towards club and intramural level sports while in college. Even though you don’t need to be recruited to play in club sports, it is still a highly competitive activity, minus the commitment to playing in the NCAA. For many non-travel players, this is a very attractive offer. Many high school student-athletes will want to look at many different college extracurriculars such as Greek Life, music programs and outside research, so club and intramural sports allow for a more flexible schedule.

What happens once a student successfully commits to a college? Most athletes once committed often spend the rest of their high school years continuing to participate in their chosen sport, but at a lesser intense level. Many times a college will prevent a recruit from playing a high school sport to prevent injury. For example, Broad Run senior John Birchmier, who recently committed to wrestle at the Naval Academy, was unable to participate in football his senior year due to the Academy not wanting him to be injured and lose his contract. This is a common practice for many universities to keep their top prospects healthy to play at their best level when the time comes.

Another common tactic is for a college coach to have their recruit take another SAT or ACT, particularly when it becomes time to look at scholarships and their acceptance into the specific school. Some schools most likely will not have released their application results until after the initial signing date, giving the athlete time to bump up their test scores and GPA to increase their chance of getting accepted so that they can play. While this can create more stress for the recruitee, the athletes typically respond well and rise to meet the level needed.

How does recruitment affect everyday life? Honestly, not too much really changes. Unless you’re a top-Olympic athlete, you might make the news but not much else happens after that. For example, USA Women’s National Field Hockey player Erin Matson committed to play at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill last year, and after making a few headlines announcing her commitment, she seemingly had a normal senior year. Of course being recruited and committing gives any parent ultimate bragging rights, and most likely a couple hundred dollars spent on college spirit wear. Most athletes end up going about the rest of their high school career internally counting down the days until summer training with their new team. The infamous ‘senioritis’ will most likely kick almost immediately after saying yes to the coach, and practically exponentially grow as the school year goes on. If a player as verbally committed by the time their high school season comes, they will often use that season as their practice, just having fun and trying different things to make them more competitive.

So does the college recruitment process really stress out a student? Yes, but only for a short period of time. It all comes down to what final decisions the student makes. Either way, the student learns some powerful lessons, such as how to send formal emails, how to approach interviews and assessments, as well as learning many different time management skills. College recruiting is more than just a dream kids have.  Those who really work for it have proven that the work, stress and anticipation are worth it all.