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Signing the Letter

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t is 10 o’clock in the morning and the atrium is filled with friends and family who gather around and cheer as senior, Brandon Haul, signs his National Letter of Intent to play Division 1 baseball at Wagner College in Staten Island, New York. It was at this moment Haul knew that the years of sacrifice had payed off. “I think the proudest moment in my career so far was when I signed my letter of intent, because I knew that all the work I had put in payed off, and I was happy to become a part of Wagner’s program,” he said looking back.

For many high school athletes, experiencinunnamed-3g this same moment is something they have greatly looked forward to. Here at Thornton Academy, the graduating class of 2017 has 7 athletes who have committed to a college for sport thus far, and many more will likely commit as the year goes on. The official NCAA recruiting website states that “About 2 percent of high school athletes are awarded some form of athletics scholarship to compete in college.” Being in this margin makes you an elite athlete.

The journey to becoming a collegiate athlete does not start just in junior or senior year when the college search begins. Haul has been working towards his goals for a long time. He said, “I first realized that I wanted to play college baseball in the 7th grade, because I wanted to be a professional baseball player, and the best way to go about that is to play Division 1. High school is when I really became motivated and started working towards being recruited and getting the ability to play Division 1.”

As most athletes working to pursue their career in college can agree, the recruiting process can be exhausting, and it can require some help. Many athletes often reach out to consultants for help in the journey. Jill Hicks, an advisor for student athletes looking to be recruited, explains that there are five key steps to a successful recruiting process.  “You must start the recruiting process early or before you will actually be ready to get recruited. The recruiting process is very competitive. You must be proactive and stay on the college coaches radar. It is important to target the right level of college.”

Hicks went on to advise,  “Don’t waste your time on schools that are not interested in you. Academics should always come first when searching for a college. It takes a team. The coach, athlete, parent, and sometimes an advisor to help advise in the recruiting process.”

Senior lacrosse player Paige Leblanc also shared the same journey. Paige first realized she wanted to play collegiate level lacrosse during her sophomore year. She was named top player of the year by the Journal Tribune and was a top scorer from the previous year, alongside two graduating players. When asked what she struggled most with during the process she explains, “It’s hard getting coaches to notice you in the first place or even having the confidence to talk to a coach about playing for them. It was also a little strange because
you’re reaching out to a stranger to review your personal talent, but it is exciting at the same time.” What inspired Paige to continue the recruiting process was that she knew she had potential that should not go to waste. This is what drove her to reach out to coaches.

Haul also agreed that there are definitely will be some setbacks and difficult times during the proc
ess. He explained that living in Maine can be quite a negative factor to an athlete’s career. He said, “ I had a couple of coaches from good Division 1 programs tell me that they really liked me, but had another kid in front of me because I don’t play enough games or have enough experience which comes from living in Maine.” With that being said, Brandon did not let his hometown bring him down. He continued to vouch for himself and get the exposure he needed by playing on more teams and in more games. He also reached out to coaches often to update them on his progress, telling us that, “The most important thing is getting coaches to come to your tournament games in the summer time. You need to email them your schedule a lot, in order for them to come watch you play. You also need to play on a team that goes to tournaments all over the country in order to get exposure.”

Both athletes can agree that the important thing to remember when working towards earning a spot on a college team is that the only thing that can truly get you there is hard work.

Hickunnamed-2s explains that, “skills are ultimately what drives the recruiting process. If you are not focused on improving your skills, then you have nothing to show coaches.”

When asked about what advice to give other students just starting the recruiting process, Haul says, “You have to put in the work in order to get recruited. Coaches most likely aren’t going to be knocking on your door, you need to be knocking on theirs. You don’t want to annoy them, but you need to make sure they know who you are if you want to play for them.”

As family gathers around with smiles on their faces friends, classmates, and teachers clap and congratulate senior Paige Leblanc, who signs her letter of intent to play Division 2 Lacrosse at Erskine College in South Carolina. It was at this moment that the years of hard work and sacrifice had paid off. When asked about the process she said, “It is really rewarding because of the potential to get scholarships and being able to take money off of the total college cost. It is very rewarding and a worthwhile experience.”


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