Getting to the Line to Sign

Jade Spurlock, Section Editor

The moment every athlete dreams of is being able to tweet that they have officially committed to a college to continue their athletic journey. Woodbridge is known for having supportive and hard-working coaches that take their job seriously in making sure their players are able to continue using their athletic skill at a higher level. 

However, before these seniors are behind a table with a pen and paper ready to sign, there is a long and gruesome process that comes with it. Many people assume that all there is to signing to a school is being good at the sport he or she plays. However, this is not the case. 

There are many good athletes around the country but how does one cross over that line from being good in high school to playing in college? The commitment process is not easy and does not just end once one has picked a school. From recruitment to getting offers, even all the way to a possible decommitment, an athlete does not feel that sense of satisfaction until they are in a college field. 

Now, where does the process start? 

For some athletes, they know from a young age they love their given sport and want to play it for the rest of their lives. This means spending their weekends and summers at camps and practicing every day, even during the off-season. Some athletes start this routine at a very young age. 

In fact, athletes even plan their choice of high school based on the reputation it has with a given sport. For example, Woodbridge is known for having state winning champions in a variety of sports such as Sophmore, Josh Mancia and or Vikings Girls Varsity basketball team. Woodbridge also currently has at least 11 committed seniors who will be playing sports at the collegiate level. So, if you are a young eighth grader looking to play D1 one day, wouldn’t you make sure you transfer to a school that has an esteemed name behind it?

Let’s say you get into the AP Scholars Program at Woodbridge and you made the team, now what?  Obviously you have put in hard work during games and practices, but out of the millions of student-athletes around the country, how will you stand out to coaches? Every person has their own recruitment process. Most of the time it depends on the sport. For example, soccer players can depend on their school and club coaches to get recruited while football players do not have their own “club” sport to lean on. In addition to using their coaches for help, athletes are responsible for creating their own highlight tape and promoting themselves through social media. Even for the best players, getting offers does not happen over time. Time, energy, and patience go into hoping a college will reach out to a player.

Senior Katelyn Kosar has been on the girls soccer team since she’s been to Woodbridge. “Committing through soccer is different than other sports,” Kosar says, “because, when you’re committing for soccer, you typically go through club sports.” Kosar added, “you get more exposure since you are constantly traveling.”

Hurray! Schools have begun showing interest in you and you even received a few offers. Your work is done, right? Wrong. Getting the offer is nowhere near the end of the journey. Just because a school has offered you does not mean it is set and stone that you will be playing there in the next season. Grades, injuries, or even sometimes just a change in mind from the school are all factors that should be considered when you receive an offer. When getting an offer it is important to wisely but quickly commit to the school you plan on going to. 

Senior, Rafeel Ampong, has spent his last 4 years on the Vikings Football team. He has witnessed and experienced the commitment process first hand and knows how difficult it can be. “First you have to see where you are on a recruiters’ depth chart,” Ampong comments. “Just like on a team, there are starters and backups [and] recruitment is the same way. Basically, you put together what schools have you high on their depth chart and if you would want to go to that school or not.” Ampong continued, “Once you find the school you would want to go to, then you verbally commit. However, you do not want to commit too early or too late. The end of junior year through the beginning of your senior year is when most prospects commit.” To clarify the confusion of verbal and written commitment, Ampong clarified, “The verbal commitment is when you say you want to go to the school, but the signing is when you officially state you will be at the school.”

As you can see the commitment process is not as easy as it appears to be. Sure, athletes do not have to deal with the normal stress of writing college essays for their acceptance, but they go through their own difficulties making sure they get to go to the college of their dreams too. All the hard work pays off when that athlete gets to say they have officially committed and signed and will continue to do what they love. As Antoine Sampah, top recruit for the reigning NCAA National Champions LSU Tigers, states, “It felt really comforting knowing that I didn’t have to think about where I’m going to be living for my college career and knowing how great they have developed over this past year has made me feel special being apart of a program so promising”.