by Hunter Grona| Staff Writer
The process of recruiting is a long and tiring one for players and coaches alike. It’s a decision that’s taken seriously by both, as its results can impact the rest of one’s life. Whether it’s football, baseball, soccer or basketball the process demands great thought- along with some added pressure.
“It is a long process of- mainly- communication, with coaches and visiting campuses and showcasing your skills,” explained senior baseball player Avery Horton.
Horton is right in the middle of his recruiting journey. He hasn’t found the right school for him yet, but he is currently being looked at by the University of Texas at Tyler.
“UT Tyler is the main school I am interested in. I have already talked to the coach, and he will watch me during my senior season of baseball this year,” Horton said.
“Being recruited by a school or schools is exciting, but at the same time stressful. You have so much to think about in your decision; plus, you want other people’s opinion, but ultimately it’s your decision,” senior soccer player Lynsie Shaw said.
Shaw has finished her journey with a recent signing with Stephen F. Austin.
“I gave Sam Houston a good thought, along with Trinity, a couple of division-two schools in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. The school that caught my attention after a while was Stephen F. Austin State University,” Shaw explained, “I got along with the coaches at S.F.A right from the get-go. I was blessed with what they had to offer me, and with a lot of praying I knew that S.F.A was where I needed and wanted to be.”
A high school athlete has many things to consider when weighing schools against one another. These factors can include anything; from quality of education to the campus itself.
“The biggest thing is the academics and quality of education. If a school does not offer the major I want, then it is almost always immediately eliminated. As for advice; they tell me to just be myself, and to be polite to coaches when talking to them,” Horton said.
Emotions, however, can have an equally significant impact on the final choice.
“At the beginning of recruiting I was hoping to play somewhere out of state. But now, as I got older, I made the decision to stay in Texas; close to family,” Shaw said.
During the recruiting process, high school athletes hear a great deal of advice from the adults closest to them.
“I was always told to look at the whole school, not just the soccer part. Write out the pros and cons of the options I had, and just to make sure that whatever decision I made would make me happy,” Shaw said.
Coaches play a role as well, offering up their best advice for their athletes.
“I tell them to keep a level head, try to stay focused on what we are doing here. I know that sometimes it’s hard not to think about what you want to do in the future,” head basketball coach Jay Keller said.
However, the immediate worries of a student are of equal importance to such students.
“[I tell them] not to miss a lot of school, and to keep up their grades. Remember they are committed to this team at this point, they have plenty of time to go on to that other school,” Keller said.
“Recruiting isn’t an easy process,” Horton said. ” You have to have your academic and athletic information always available, because you never know when you will run into an interested coach.”
Despite the inherent inconvenience, the process is usually fun and enjoyable for players, who consider being able to travel around the country one of the bonuses of the experience.
“It is exciting to talk to and meet new people, you also get to travel to many college campuses and showcase your skills to coaches. It’s exciting when coaches contact you and like what you have to offer,” Horton said.
However, recruiting isn’t always a walk in the park. Commitment to a school is life decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly; and many athletes feel that weight on their shoulders. Catching the eyes of these coaches can be difficult, even for talented players.
“I wish that every coach you reach out to would reply, because it is frustrating to make so much effort and not even get the courtesy of a reply,” Horton said.
Avery Horton said the he keeps coaches interested in him by keeping in constant email contact and by updating coaches on games and how he performed.
“It is nerve-racking, the first time,” Horton said of talking with college recruiters. “After that, it’s just like talking to a normal person. That’s how you have to go at it. Otherwise, the coach sees bad communication skills, and most coaches do not like that at all.”
After catching the eyes of recruiters, it’s another task to keep them interested.
“I sent numerous emails to schools that had what I wanted. If coaches knew you were interested in their school, then they are more likely to come watch one of your games,” Shaw said.
Horton and Shaw have encountered much in their recruiting journeys. That said, both have chosen to focus on academics and the quality of the school, while looking to impress all the coaches they can during the season and pursue a brighter future.
“It has opened many doors for me, helping me with communication skills and also showing me the numerous options for college and playing collegiate sports,” Horton said. “It’s always good to have back-ups, and recruiting has done exactly that. I would have never known about all the different schools and types of schools that are out there if it wasn’t for this difficult- but rewarding- process.”