The college recruitment process is a long and grueling path to a student who is 15 or 16 years old when one decision will affect the rest of their lives. Making an NCAA commitment is a monumental decision that must be made quickly or an opportunity can vanish. It can be a tremendous stress on an athlete, especially their mental psyche.
Isabel Greene (`18) committed to Women’s Soccer for the University of Dayton. She said, “A lot of the spots fill up quickly. If I were to start looking at colleges my senior year, my options would be very limited.” Ella Grbac (`18), who is verbally committed to Northwestern University for Women’s Volleyball shared, “Most athletes have to commit early, if they wait too long, an offer can be pulled.”
This can be very taxing on young people because in the span of a few months, or even a few short weeks, student athletes must decide where they want to spend four years of their life and what they want to do for a career after college.
After getting into contact with a school, a visit is set up to see the campus, watch practice or a game, and meet with the coaching staff. The meeting can entail, “scholarship or financial aid, playing time, what they see in you as a player, why they want you on their team,” Grbac said. Annmarie Fitzgerald (`19), Grbac, and Greene agreed that money and playing time were not vital factors in where they decided to go to school.
Fitzgerald, who is verbally committed to Northeastern University for Women’s Ice Hockey, said, “I chose Northeastern because I fell in love with the school when I visited. I always loved Boston and it’s in a perfect spot. It felt like somewhere I wanted to be all the time and people wanted me to be there too.”
Grbac also cited a great environment when she said, “[Northwestern] seemed like it had a family environment that I wanted to be a part of. I also really like the academics. It has what I want to study, and it’s in a good location near Chicago.”
Greene had visited a few schools the summer before her junior year. She said, “When I went to the University of Dayton, I fell in love with the school and decided that Dayton is where I wanted to go to college.” She added how supportive her family was of her decision and that her mother “couldn’t picture me at another school.”
These students carefully examined their options and chose their dream schools. All three girls said their families mostly influenced their verbal commitments. Fitzgerald added that coming from a big family meant her decision was not just about her, but about everybody.
Fitzgerald said, “They supported me in my choice and every step leading up to it. I wouldn’t be the player I am without my family and what they sacrificed, so it was only right to make sure that they were on board with my decision as much as I was.”
Grbac has a father who played football at the University of Michigan and went on to play professionally. She said, “My family and especially my dad were helpful in making my options clearer, which made my decision to go to Northwestern much easier.”
All three athletes were adamant in saying they are extremely grateful for the support they received from family and friends.