College sport recruiting gives student-athletes a different application experience

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Photo courtesy of Parker Hill

Hill signed to play women’s basketball for Princeton University. After three years of hard work, she ended up committing to one of the first schools she talked to in the recruiting process.

By Emily Zhang, Features Editor

College application season usually entails countless hours of writing essays and waiting to hear back from a long list of schools. However, for student-athletes – like seniors Kaylin Yeoh, Mary James and Parker Hill – their application process is slightly different. Through contacting and keeping in touch with coaches, along with weighing different offers, they were all able to receive likely letters and admissions offers much earlier than the average student. 

“I spent 8th grade and the first three years of high school overwhelmed with recruiting calls and an influx of mail. Keeping in contact with many people over multiple years was definitely stressful, but I paid that stress forward in the sense I only had to write one college application,” Hill, who committed to Princeton, said. “Being committed is great as I avoid a lot of the senior struggles of college apps and decisions, but on the flip side I am slightly disconnected from the rest of the 2021s in that I already know where I’m going.”

Yeoh, who has been playing golf competitively since she was ten years old, committed to D3 golf at Carnegie Mellon University over the summer. Her choice to play D3 is the perfect fit because it allows her to focus on academics while still playing competitively. Coupled with more free time and a flexible practice schedule, it will allow her to make the most of her college experience. 

“I’ve always known about CMU, but it actually wasn’t at the top of my radar until later on in the recruitment process,” Yeoh said. “The CMU golf coach, Coach Rodgers, really was a big deciding factor for me in the end. He’s super nice and everything is so flexible with him which is something I really like because it’ll allow me to be more independent and let me manage the amount of practice I need myself.” 

Similarly, James, who has been playing soccer for thirteen years, committed to Ohio Wesleyan University, a D3 school. OWU’s academic reputation and competitive soccer program, as well as the abundance of future opportunities, really drew her to the school. 

“I was first recruited by Coach Becca after CASL, a showcase tournament, during my sophomore year. OWU was one of the first schools interested in me and vice versa. There were other schools who had interest in me but weren’t a good academic fit, and there were schools that I was interested in who recruited me too,” James said. “I chose OWU over other schools because I felt if I wasn’t recruited to play soccer or if I broke a bone and couldn’t play, OWU would be the best fit out of all the schools.”

On the other hand, Hill, who plays basketball for both AAU and WCHS, committed to a D1 school. Everything about Princeton, from being top of the Ivy League for women’s basketball to stellar academics, clicked for Hill. She hopes to either follow in the steps of Princeton alum Bella Alarie by playing professionally after college or maybe heading to law school. 

“Every single factor in choosing a college resonated with me at Princeton: the academics, basketball, location, size, majors, presence of a train on campus with direct access home,” Hill said. “And of course, the orange matching my hair was just another sign Princeton was the school for me.”

No matter what division, Yeoh, James and Hill are all looking forward to playing with their future teammates and working with their coaches. Paired with amazing professors and the ability to take interesting classes, they are all excited to further their academic and sports careers. 

“In general, I’m really excited to meet new people at CMU! I’ve already contacted some of my future teammates and they’re all super nice, and I can’t wait to explore the campus and Pittsburgh friends. And of course, I’m always eager to learn new things and expand my knowledge,” Yeoh said. 

Playing in college also means leveling up one’s skills and working towards aspirations. College is a great opportunity to work towards big goals. 

“I do have a goal to become a captain for the college team, win a division championship and become a starter by my sophomore year,” James said. “I think my new biggest goal for soccer is to become a coach; I have always enjoyed working with kids and getting to teach them something I love would be great.” 

In the end, commitments mean being able to continue a love for the game. The extraordinary opportunity to continue the competitive spirit at a higher level is unmatched. 

“Quite simply, I love the game. Basketball is a big part of my life and I don’t want it to end with high school,” Hill said. “Playing in college fulfills two fantasies – playing the sport I love and attending the university of my dreams.”