Is Early Recruitment a Good Idea?

Ana Dzunova, Writer

All around the country today, there are eighth graders being put in positions to choose where they want to spend their college years. Even though the NCAA prohibits this from happening, coaches still make the athletes verbally sign as soon as possible so they can move onto another athlete. Drawing on my personal experience, 20 out of 24 players on the PDA North soccer team verbally committed before their junior year. Coaches attempt to sign an athlete early because they want to get their hands on him or her before another college does. Some may argue that this an amazing opportunity to get great scholarship money and to get the stressful college process over with early. However, most of these children cannot even decide what to wear to school let alone make an important decision that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

Early recruitment can cause a child’s mentality to change towards the sport. Instead of enjoying the sport, they’re focusing on working hard to “impress college coaches”. Rather than looking forward to winning the showcase with their teammates, they’re too busy worrying about not playing well in front of a college coach. It not only affects the players, but also the coaches. Coaches don’t play the best player; instead they play the uncommitted player. Nick Heinemann, a PDA soccer coach, agreed and explained his input: “During showcases, I have to stop myself from playing starters the entire game; I have to give opportunities to uncommitted players who told me their college coach came to watch them.”

Young teenagers are indecisive. In USA Today’s High School Sports, the author discusses the positives and negatives of early recruitment. The author states, “Before you sign your NLI, make sure the school is a good fit for you academically, athletically and socially.” Before committing, an athlete is supposed to visit the college and ask current students if they are pleased with their decision. Most importantly, they are to check if the university has their interested major. But, many teenagers change their minds everyday. One day they want to major in business; the next day they want to major in medicine. If the athlete commits to the college and then finds out it doesn’t have the major they are interested in, they are stuck. Trinity Garay, an old teammate of mine, offers her advice: “Athletes need to make sure that their university has an abundance of majors they’re looking at before making their decision because they’ll regret it in the end.”

Early recruitment decreases the chances of an injured player to get recruited by top schools. In a New York Times article, the author states, “At universities with elite teams like North Carolina and Texas, the rosters are almost entirely filled by the time official recruiting begins.” If a player has a serious injury, it is going to be very hard to stay in contact with coaches. Maggie Kipner, a club soccer player, tore her ACL during her sophomore year and due to this, she was never able to be recruited: “Is it upsetting? Yeah. I always saw myself playing soccer at college. But by the time I came back, all the spots were taken.”

Athletes should enjoy their years playing the sport they love because one day, it’ll all be over. They shouldn’t spend time worrying about having one bad game in front of their dream college, but rather focus on improving their game and having fun. Because instead of recruiting being forced and pressured, it will come naturally with time and patience.