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Eight college recruiting tips with current freshman student-athletes

Photo courtesy of Calli Newberry

By Calli Newberry

I recently talked with several student-athletes who are in their freshman year of college. They spanned a wide range of schools and sports, from NCAA Division I to NAIA and basketball to competitive cheer. 

And since these athletes aren’t that far removed from high school, I thought they’d be the best to offer some advice for younger athletes who are interested in playing college sports or who are already in the middle of the recruiting process. 

So I asked them all the same question: 

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What is one thing you were glad that you did during your recruiting process, or what is something you didn’t do that you now wish you did? 

Some of them mentioned the importance of getting to work and communicating with the team and coaches right away.

“I’d really encourage kids to show interest and try to be as social with them as possible. I was a little shy, and I kind of regret being shy because I really like the guys now. Throw yourself out there and really try to connect with people because it’s really about those relationships with your coach and your teammates that’s going to make you love where you’re at.”

— Jack Pennewell, St. Clair High School, MSU cross country and track and field

“They basically told me to be in the best possible shape you can be coming in here and I feel like I did that…I didn’t want to get here and be like, ‘Oh no.’ I didn’t want to not be prepared so I tried everything I could. I would text the coaches once every couple weeks and ask, ‘What’s something you see a lot of freshmen struggle with?’ or ‘What kind of conditioning drills should I do,’ and they were always very responsive and helped me with that.” 

— Alec Albrecht, Armada High School, Trine University basketball 

And it sounds like the sooner you start the recruiting process, the better, especially because of the lingering effects of COVID that left more athletes with more eligibility. 

“Something I would’ve done differently is starting reaching out to schools and working harder at softball earlier on. I kind of decided [to play in college] a little bit later, maybe more in the middle of my sophomore year…I was playing three sports and I really didn’t have time to focus on just one sport, so I was kind of just doing all three and I was alright at all of them, but until I really realized I wanted to play softball in college, I stopped playing basketball and I was able to focus on [softball] during the winter and really get after it.” 

— Kirsten Smith, Marysville High School, Lourdes University softball

“I wish I would’ve started the recruiting process earlier. I was super late to it. I think I started the summer before my junior year. I was trying to decide if I wanted to play softball or basketball, and I wish I would’ve figured that out sooner.”

— Emma Trombly, Port Huron High, Northwood University basketball

“I definitely committed really early and it was good, but I could’ve waited a little longer to see how it all played out. But I’m also really glad I committed so early because I knew Wayne State was the place for me. With COVID happening, everything got messed up with recruiting so it really helped that I did it so early so I know I’m really happy I did when I did.” 

— Ally Shagena, Port Huron Northern, Wayne State University basketball 

“I wanted to find somewhere to play and I wanted to be committed before my season started because I wanted to be focused on my [high school senior] season…Something I didn’t do was reach out to schools my junior year. I was kind of behind in the recruiting process. I waited until my senior year. It kind of crept up on me and I panicked at the last second. I wish I would’ve reached out to some other schools earlier, but in the end, I think it all worked out and I’m where I’m supposed to be.”

— Zach Meier, Marysville High School, Jackson College baseball

And others said to keep your options open and be OK with change, because sometimes the career you thought you wanted isn’t what’s best, and it’s important to keep the long-term in mind. 

“I applied to a lot of schools and checked out a lot of different programs to see which culture and campus were going to be right for me, so I’m glad I did that because it really left my options open and really led me here. I thought I had a plan of what I was going to do and where I was going to go but then it completely turned around.” 

— Ella Kritzman, Croswell-Lexington High School, Concordia University cheerleading

“It was really hard for me because ever since I was little I was either going to be a vet or a doctor. I had no other thing in my mind…But being a doctor you’re stuck at work all day and I was like, ‘Right now I don’t want to be stuck in my studies constantly worrying about school.’ With the major change and future life change, I have more time to be with family and friends and even just with my track team…I just had to figure out what would better me in the moment and in the long term, as of right now that’s what I’ve decided.”

— Alexa Messina, Yale High School, Oakland University track and field

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