Palo Alto High School's sports news magazine

Viking Magazine

Palo Alto High School's sports news magazine

Viking Magazine

Palo Alto High School's sports news magazine

Viking Magazine

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Signed & Sealed

Many Paly athletes with commitments to top tier universities signed National Letters of Intent (NLI) on November 8, validating and celebrating their commitments. However, Paly doesn’t host a signing day event to go with that major moment until May.
Photo courtesy of Celeste Bates


The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) permits contact and communication between high school athletes and college coaches beginning June 15 between the athlete’s sophomore and junior years. This applies to all sports except football, basketball, and baseball. For those sports coaches can begin evaluating and scouting the young athletes as early as middle school.

Though making a verbal commitment is still illegal until the regular starting day of June 15, young athletes can be contacted by coaches from a younger age. This helps these athletes know what schools they’re a prospect for, helps them learn more about the school, and builds connections with those schools. 

Paly senior Kiana Feldis committed to Carlton College for soccer. Feldis briefly shares the timeline of her recruiting process

 “I started my recruitment process spring of my sophomore year and committed in August of my senior year,” Feldis said. 

Communication with college coaches during the recruiting process is a two-way street. College coaches will be reaching out to their prospects, and high school athletes can reach out to coaches.

A Paly senior, who wishes to remain anonymous, shares their experience communicating with college coaches varying in terms of initiation.

“I reached out to about thirty schools and heard back from and kept talking with most of them, and then I had schools reaching out to me too through email and Instagram DMs,” they said. “However with my sport usually athletes are only reached out to when they have a personal connection with or know the coach, or if they have a connection to your coaches or club.”

As these young athletes build more relationships with prospective schools and build more interest in these schools’ progress, they may be offered an official or unofficial recruiting trip to the school.



The NCAA permits prospective student-athletes to take up to five official recruiting trips. Outside of official trips, prospective student-athletes may take as many unofficial visits as they would like. An official visit is constituted by the school paying for everything to bring you out to the school for a maximum of forty-eight hours. 

On these visits, schools will typically roll out the red carpet and really try to wow the recruits. Commonly reflected on social media, several sports teams bring recruits out to an exciting sporting event with special perks and give recruits a taste of media day and what it’s like to be a part of the team and school as a whole. It provides a pivotal experience and insight to schools and their collegiate teams that compel students to their college decisions. 

For senior tennis player Erin Li, her visit helped her decide between many different schools. Li has been playing tennis since she was little and knew the sport would take her to the collegiate level. After considering many schools such as Amherst, Bowdoin, and Tufts, Li committed to Swarthmore in October 2023.

Swarthmore tennis commit Erin Li’s commitment photo. Photo courtesy of Erin Li.

“I chose Swarthmore because of its strong academics, nice facilities, and ideal location. I also bonded well with the tennis team during my visit,” Li said. “They were all incredibly welcoming and shared their experiences on the team that inspired me and strengthened my decision to choose Swarthmore.”

Another Paly senior, who wishes to remain anonymous, initially had a very certain vision for what kind of school they wanted to go to.

“Originally, I was dead set on going to an Ivy League or just some top, super prestigious, well-known university,” they said. “I wanted a school that had great academics and great athletics, which narrowed down my options as a lot of the super academic schools don’t have crazy athletic programs, and a lot of the crazy sports schools aren’t known for having the best academics.”

Taking official visits helped them adjust their vision for their future and find the school that was right for them.

 “After taking a visit, I realized this school that wasn’t like a crazy Ivy League was the school for me,” they said. “It was a place where I didn’t want to leave. I loved the team, the atmosphere, and the strong and well-supported athletics while still having good academics.”

Paly senior and golfer Chase Kacher’s visit helped him immediately know where he wanted to spend his next four years.

“I got back from my trip [to Denver] and was like, ‘Shoot, this is the school I’m going to,’” Kacher said. “I got on the phone with the coach soon after I got home from the school, I received the offer, and it took me about ten minutes before I called him back saying I was going to go to Denver.”

University of Denver golf commit Chase Kacher’s commitment photo. Photo courtesy of Chase Kacher.

Decision Making

After seeing all the schools they’re interested in and deciding what college experience they want – considering the balance of athletics, academics, and the social aspect of the college experience – athletes come to a decision on where they want to go. For some student-athletes, the decision is clearer in comparison to others. 

For Paly varsity boys soccer and Silicon Valley Soccer Academy player Anzel Zhen (a fellow Swarthmore commit), deciding his school was difficult, because he wanted to make sure he found a good fit for him. 

“The hardest part of the recruitment process was definitely finding the best school for me,” he said. “I wanted to go to one that fit the criteria that I was looking for.” 

Kacher also recognizes that for some people, finding their perfect school can be more difficult than for others. 

“It can be a very overwhelming process for some people,” he said. “[Finding] what we’re specifically looking for in schools can be a challenge. In [California], there’s usually a trend of people trying to go only for schools with good academics.”

For other students, the decision making process takes longer. Paly’s star football player Ikinasio Tupuo began racking up offers early on, but he did not announce his decision until December of 2023. 


Signing Day

The recruiting process for high school student-athletes hoping to further their athletic career at the collegiate level is often overwhelming. But once all the stress is over and one is officially committed, they are finally recognized with signing day, an event high schools across the nation host in honor of committed athletes signing their National Letter of Intent (NLI). With booths decorated in coordination with the colleges athletes have committed to, friends and family gather in a celebration of these committed athletes’ achievements – years of dedication, hard work, perseverance, growth, and success — in their respective sports at signing day. Furthermore, no commitment is official until a NLI is signed, making signing day an even bigger deal.

Scrolling through social media on November 8, a plethora of posts come out showcasing the signing day festivities, yet some schools hold off on this celebration until later in the school year. Paly has many student athletes who signed on November 8, but they did not sign with the festivities of a signing day. With signing day posts flooding social media on the initial signing day of November 8, Paly students are left wondering why we don’t have an event, but Paly holds off on hosting signing day until the spring (usually in the month of May).

The day high schools hold signing day varies amongst different schools. While a majority of schools host signing day on November 8, other schools will hold signing day in February or later in the Spring. 

Confusion of when schools should be hosting signing day stems from how there are multiple calendared national signing days. National signing day for all high school student-athletes (except football and basketball players) is November 8, as most athletes have verbally committed before that point in their senior year. However, even after November 8, high school seniors are still able to commit, whether it be an arrangement as a walk-on, decommitment and recommitment, or a later college decision, and seniors’ commitment announcements continue to come out with letters of intent being signed shortly after. Although athletes in most sports sign on the first National Signing Day on November 8, football and basketball are different. Early signing day for Division 1 and Division 2 football is December 20, and regular signing day is on February 7. 

Paly senior and football player, Iki Tupou, is one of Paly’s top athletes and commits in the class of 2024, announcing his commitment to Brigham Young University (BYU), in December of 2023. With multiple full-ride scholarships and a total of eleven Division 1 offers, Tupou had more time before having to make a decision and sign with a school.

BYU football commit Iki Tupou’s commitment photo. Photo courtesy of Iki Tupou.

Basketball also has a unique signing day schedule with early signing day being November 8 and regular signing day being April 17. 

High schools will delay hosting signing day until later in the school year to ensure all students pursuing athletics in college are honored, for some students commit after November 8 or wait to announce their commitments until they’ve actually received their college acceptance letter. At Paly, hosting a signing day toward the end of the school year allows the busy spring sports season to settle down before the athletic department has to direct their attention to the event.

Though it’s frustrating for Paly student-athletes to not be recognized at the major time they actually sign and officialize their commitments, Paly students agree that it’s better to hold signing day in the spring in promotion of inclusion for all athletes. One of Paly’s top golfers and Santa Clara University golf commit Alexa Pineda (‘24) committed in June of 2023 and signed on November 8, but still believes it’s better for schools to hold signing day in the spring.

“I think it’s good to have it in the spring because it’s inclusive to all of the sports and all of the divisions,” Pineda said. “Though the majority of people commit for girls golf before November 8, there’s still kids sometimes committing later and getting offers later in the process, and it’s still important to acknowledge them.”

Without Paly holding a signing day event in November, some of Paly’s committed athletes, such as Pineda, held a small event at home with family and friends. Many club teams will also hold an event in November to celebrate their committed seniors.

Santa Clara University golf commit Alexa Pineda has an at home signing day on November 8 in the absence of Paly hosting a fall signing day. Photo courtesy of Alexa Pineda.

The next wave of high school signing day events is typically around the February 7 national signing day. Any schools that don’t host a signing day on the November 8 or Febraury 7 national signing day, like Paly, typically hold signing towards the end of the school year.

Erin Li (‘24) has been playing tennis since she was five years old. Taking her tennis career to the next level, Li committed to Swarthmore mid-October of 2023, but did not sign a letter of intent on November 8 due to rules within Division 3 commitments.

“I believe that it is important for them [walk-on players] to have a signing day as well because they have worked hard to become committed, and they deserve the same amount of recognition,” Li said. 

Fellow Swarthmore commit Anzel Zhen committed in August 2023 after much consideration of his other two offers. Zhen wanted to wait to be able to see all of his options and make the right decision for him. Like many student-athletes who have many offers, they want to have a time period to wait and decide on where they want to go, missing the earlier signing day in November.

Swarthmore soccer commit Anzel Zhen’s commitment photo. Photo courtesy of Anzel Zhen.

No matter what their personal signing day is, student-athletes get a day to celebrate their hard work and achievements. While Paly’s later signing day might not correspond with the national date, it gives athletes who sign later in the year a chance to celebrate their achievements. As per usual, Paly’s signing day will occur this spring; come out and support your fellow Vikings and teammates as they take a huge step toward the next chapter of their future.

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About the Contributors
Luke Joachim, Staff Writer
Alena Lotterer
Alena Lotterer, Staff Writer
Hi! I'm Alena, and I'm a senior at Paly. I'm a springboard/platform diver, and I'm a coach for little kids in swim and dive. I'm also a member of Paly's Student Athletic Leadership Team!
Max Merkel, Staff Writer
Aspen Stitt
Aspen Stitt, Managing Editor
Hi my name is Aspen Stitt and I am a senior at Paly and the Managing Editor of Viking!! I play lacrosse and field hockey and a fun fact about me is that I love to ski in the snow! I can do a backflip on skis and I am also on the ski team. Zach Bryan is my fav and country music is the bomb! My favorite food is Korean corn dogs. Follow me on Instagram and add me on snap linked below ;)

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