Student-athletes face challenges in the college recruiting process

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Avery Wong

High school student-athletes face different challenges than other students when choosing a path to college.

Competition is fierce for the thousands of high school athletes who have hopes of being scouted for college sports. Just under 8 million high school students participate in athletics, and from that, only 495,000 continue to play at National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) schools.  

Student-athletes often grow up wanting to use their passion for sports to get into a college of their choice. According to the NCAA, over 540,000 boys play high school basketball, while only around 18,000 continue to college athletic divisions. Unfortunately, the odds of continuing to the professional leagues are even slimmer. 

Despite these unlikely probabilities, student-athletes work hard to continue the process of college sports admissions.  

According to the Next College Student Athlete (NCSA), college sports coaches first gather information of potential players by using sites like Rivals and recommendations from high school coaches. Then, invitation letters and questionnaires are sent to the athletes, leading them to the next step. College coaches deeply analyze the potential players and rank them, and, in the last step, coaches give out recruitment letters, and athletes sign the contract. 

“They look for freshmen who have varsity or elite club film, were ranked as a top-tier recruit at a tournament or showcase or received prestigious awards, such as All-State. In most cases, we advise that athletes start the recruiting process before their junior year,” NCSA said. 

Furthermore, the passion for sports of most high school athletes came long before the thought of being scouted for college.

I have been playing club lacrosse since the time I was five years old. Lacrosse isn’t the only sport I play, but it is definitely where I have invested most of my time and effort,” said freshman James Mauck. “I don’t hope to make it to the pros, but I want to go to college for sports because it seems like a great way to do what I love.”

These young aspiring athletes typically make their decisions about going to college for sports early in life. While they all share the common dedication to their desired sport, each applicant is unique to the reasons they want to continue in the athletic industry.

Sydney Niles is a sophomore swimmer at Carlmont, just beginning the work towards becoming a collegiate athlete.

“I am interested in going to college for sports because of the team atmosphere surrounding college swimming and also to get a scholarship to help with the finances,” Niles said.

Probability of getting recruited by colleges for each sport. (Yura Park)

High school student-athletes, as well as regular students, have much to consider about the process of applying to college. Depending on the location of the targeted college, most high schoolers take the ACT or SAT, even those applying for sports. In addition to filling out regular college applications, student-athletes carry the stress of organizing a sports portfolio and competing to be scouted for a spot in a college sports team.  

“The first step is to send an email,” said Harish Kurup, the Carlmont girls golf coach. “But, even if you send out 100 emails, only a few will respond.”

While many people dream of the fame and fortune that come out of playing sports later in life, the realities of competing in the sports industry can be discouraging. However, for student-athletes ready to overcome the challenges, the dedication outweighs the uncertainty and hardships.

I hope to accomplish building my character by challenging myself and getting the experience of being on a team with close relationships,” Niles said. “I also hope to accomplish having good health and fitness to benefit my health in the future.”