After strapping on their gear and discussing some last-minute strategies with their coach, a talented student athlete walks out to the field ready to face their opponent. They begin to sweat, not because of sweltering heat or physical exertion, but because somewhere in the crowd sits a college scout with the student’s future in their hands. Despite the incredible pressure to succeed and the knowledge of the set of eyes watching every movement, the player proceeds.
The stress of the college recruitment process can seem daunting, especially considering the many requirements a student must fulfill. The exact numbers vary from school to school, but each college factors in the student’s core grade point average (GPA) and standardized test scores. The student must also continue to practice their sport in hopes of attracting the attention of college scouts and coaches. The effort to balance and uphold these standards often contributes to nerves.
According to Heritage athletics director Mrs. Stearns, in reference to what coaches look for when recruiting high school student athletes, “They’re looking for what their [the student’s] core GPA is and they’re looking for their test scores. If they are not at the standard of that college, they’re not going to recruit that player no matter how talented they are.”
These conditions remain relevant even after a student is recruited. The recruitment opportunity can be lost for a multitude of reasons, including inadequate academic performance. For example, if the student misses the deadline to commit to a college or acts irresponsibly on their social media, the college can revoke their offer.
There is also the possibility of student athletes not receiving offers by Signing Day. Signing Day is typically when high school senior athletes sign the National Letter of Intent as a legal confirmation of their commitment to the college of their choosing. It is not uncommon for students to be left without a recruitment offer after Signing Day passes.
“For our seniors right now that don’t have a firm offer, they are very stressed. I had a football player here, signing day came and went and he had nothing. He was very stressed, but then University of Miami offered him in June,” Mrs. Stearns recounted. Some students wait the entire school year, well after Signing Day, before knowing which college they will attend.
The entire process and its stipulations can leave athletes stressed and overworked; however, colleges have support systems in place for student athletes that include academic counselors and specific study halls. Despite the strenuous effort and time-consuming activities, athletics and the subsequent recruitments provide scholarship opportunities.
“It was stressful in the sense that 14 year old me was making decisions that were going to affect the next 4 years after high school, but it was also exciting to see all my hard work pay off in the end,” said junior Lilliana Graves, who committed to University of Central Florida in her freshman year for soccer.
This year’s signing day is February 6.