Committed to Excellence

Walker Mess ('13) dressed in his Kenyon attire  practices his signature

Scotty Bara

Walker Mess (’13) dressed in his Kenyon attire practices his signature

Jordan Gans, Staff Writer

Palo Alto High School’s dominating athletics lead to many ahtletes committing to college programs.

Many young athletes aspire to commit to the college of their dreams. Being committed is a badge of recognition to many athletes. It shows that they are good enough to play college sports and also allows the individual to relinquish the stress and uncertainty that occurs, in the recruiting process.
Being committed means publically or privately entering into a mutual agreement that you will attend a certain college, and the college makes the commitment to  admit you as a student-athlete. Although athletes have not officially committed to the colleges, they are verbally tied to that school.For Division one athletes, this pledge is confirmed on National Signing Day, which will take throughout senior year depending on the sport, at which time athletes publically sign a paper that confirms that they will be attending said college. For division three athletes verbally committing is the farthest step that can be taken. In some cases, verbal commitments are not always honored by a coach or player. Verbally committing in no way guarantees entry but can help athletes gain an edge in admissions.
So what does it take to get committed?
Many people believe that athletes have it easy and that they don’t have to work as hard because their athletic ability gets  them into college.
This is a big misconception. Although committed athletes do not have to complete college applications, they have to put in a lot of effort to balance out school work with sports. Athletes not only have the same workload as their peers  but they also devote countless hours  to  athletic practice and competition.  Therefore, they are constantly juggling both school and sports.
Being a high school student is challenging for most, but athletes who enter into the recruiting process are faced with a long and hard road that often begins early in their careers.  Many student-athletes begin the recruiting process in their freshman or sophomore year in high school and need to perform at a very high level both academically and athletically, throughout the entirety of high school. This is because college coaches expect athletes to perform at a constant academic rate. This process usually means having to perform well in school from the start, as transcripts are requested as early as sophomore year by the colleges.  In addition, most athletes must take the standardized entrance exams early and submit these to the schools.  Even if the student’s grades and test scores pass the admissions standards for the school, the student is expected to maintain the same or better grades and test scores, and is often required to take the same rest repeatedly.  One misconception is that sports can “buy” a student entry into a school, but there are few sports that have this leeway. More frequently, a coach can influence the application process for a couple of the top athletes on their list.  Athletes must qualify for the school both academically and athletically.  The athlete must also keep competing in his or her sport and often try out several times in front of the coaches.  The recruiting process is intense and can last for several years.
So why do athletes go through the recruiting  process?  If the end result is a commitment, then the athlete’s hard work has paid off and they may have peace of mind knowing where they will be going to college.
Those who make it out the other side of the recruiting process are rewarded with the knowledge and joy of knowing what college they will be attending earlier in their high school career than the usual application schedule and know that they at least have a spot on a collegiate team. However, verbal commitments are not set in stone and do not guarantee entrance into college.
Some athletes will entertain many potential school options during recruitment, but for some lucky students who know exactly where they want to go, can streamline the process to a school. Although, even when athletes signs a National Letter of Intent (NLI) for division one only, their acceptance into that school isn’t confirmed until emissions amites the athlete. Coaches that really want an athlete can influence the admissions office and get a athlete that may have not gotten into the school accepted.
Walker Mees was one to verbally commit.
“I went to their prospect camp in June and then committed about a month later, I called the coach and told him that where I wanted to go to school,”  Kenyon College men’s lacrosse commit Walker Mees (’13) said.
Every athlete’s journey to a commitment  is a little bit different, but one thing that most athletes experience is that being committed relieves  a lot of the academic stress they felt early in high school.
“Last year around this time, I was an 8/10 on the stress meter and now I’m around a 1/10. Recently I’ve had more “me time” and I’ve been able to just enjoy my adolescence,” California Polytechnic State University women’s soccer commit Jordan Smith (’13) said.
Another benefit of being committed is less anxiety over admissions into colleges.
“There is already a spot for us in the class of 2017,” Marquette University women’s lacrosse commit Julia Farino (’13) said.
This feeling of certainty is what many find to be the best aspect of being committed.
More athletes will get recruited in the future and many more will not. These are the cold facts. The most important thing according to Smith is;
“Don’t be nervous or stress out over impressing coaches, just relax and enjoy the sport you love playing.” Smith said. “After that, everything will fall into place.”
Although many seniors have to worry about the college application process, and some think that committing is unfair, it is usually because  they do not know all of the hard work that the committed players have put in to get where they are.  For all high school students, getting into college is stressful. For committed athletes the only difference is the time line is shortened, and they can avoid the application frenzy.  In the end, athletes and nonathletes share in the dream to go to the college of their  choice.