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Leland Students signing

By Nirupama Shivakumar Dec. 14, 2023

For many athletes, being recruited to play college sports is a dream come true. As a way to pursue their passions both academically and athletically, several students partake in the recruitment process to attend schools that best fit their interests. University athletic programs can be divided into Divisions 1, 2 and 3 based on the school’s level of competitiveness. Division 1 schools are known to have the best college athletes, especially in popular sports like football and basketball.

Celina Liu Photo

Leehi Machulsky ‘24 recently committed to Princeton University for fencing. Machulsky is also on the U.S. National Team and plans to continue her sport in college and beyond. Machulsky aims to participate in the Olympics and may major in economics during her time at Princeton.

“It feels really fulfilling to have signed to Princeton. Although I never fenced just to get into college, I love how my hard work is paying off,” Machulsky said.

Families of prospective collegiate student-athletes start looking into schools as early as the eighth grade according to NCSA. They assess which division level is ideal for their athlete, and consider factors such as the amount of time the student can dedicate to sports and their performance. Families also make sure students are on the right track to become NCAA eligible, which includes earning at least a 2.3 grade-point average in core courses, meeting a sliding-scale standard (for example, an SAT score of 820 requires a 2.5 high school core course GPA) and successfully completing 10 of the 16 total required core courses before the start of their seventh semester in high school.

Students then may initiate contact with college coaches through platforms such as NCSA, MaxPreps, Hudl and more. NCAA Recruiting Calendars, which details when NCAA D1 and D2 college coaches begin actively recruiting players, are often a valuable resource for high-school athletes aiming to get recruited. The overall goal of the NCAA Recruiting Calendars is to shield top athletes from being overwhelmed with communications from college coaches by setting aside certain times during which coaches are not permitted to get in touch with players. According to the NCAA, creating specific time periods in which recruiting may occur helps protect the well-being of prospective student-athletes and ensure competitive equity.

Aside from their role in college admissions, sports are also a way for students to make life-long friendships and memories. They can also be a great way for students to relax from academic stress. Sophia Sick ‘24, for one, enjoyed her time with soccer both club and school wise.

“My best memories are making friends with my club teammates while getting closer to everyone on the high school team. I chose the University of Idaho because they have a great D1 program. Their campus is beautiful and the team is so welcoming, kind and has such high energy. I loved the school and committed last November,” Sick stated.

Celina Liu Photo

Playing collegiate athletics has both short-term and long-term benefits. Student-athletes get top-notch academic assistance, exceptional medical care and access to outstanding coaching, facilities and equipment, according to the NCAA. Furthermore, student-athletes have the opportunity to attend their desired four-year university based on athletic merit, even if their high-school grades would not qualify them. Nonetheless, student-athletes still work hard in school—quality academic performance is important for an athlete to be recruited. Several students begin playing sports at a young age to explore an alternative option for university and feel strongly about pursuing sports for many years to come.

However, getting recruited to a top university is not easy by any means. According to Ev Burns ‘24, who plans to attend UC San Diego in the fall to play D1 water polo, she has faced various obstacles throughout her athletic career.

“My greatest setback would probably be my mindset when I was injured or discouraged. It was hard coming back from an injury and feeling like I had lost so much of my athletic ability, and then training again and again without seeing results for a long time. However, I loved every minute playing with my team during club and high-school season. The little moments between teammates always meant the most and made the biggest impact on me no matter what the outcome of a game or season was,” Burns said.

Athletics can be rewarding in many different ways for several students. It is a gateway to pursuing sports in college as well as a way for high-achieving academic and athletic students to attend top universities. Athletic recruitment will likely remain a popular goal for students who love their sport and want to pursue it in the future.


About the Contributor

Nirupama Shivakumar

staff writer

Niru Shivakumar is a junior at Leland High School and is a staff writer for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys playing sports, hanging out with her friends, and listening to music.

Celina Liu

media team

Celina Liu is a senior at Leland High School and is in the photo/media team for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys watching anime, and petting her cat.

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