Committing to the Grind

It is that time of year for the junior athletes. The Allen High School juniors dedicated to their individual sports have been waiting for this moment. While many seniors, and maybe a number of early bird juniors, have been stressing about college applications, admissions essays, and scholarships to get in to the college of their dreams, the junior athletes are worrying about something entirely different… impressing college coaches.


For the junior athletes, impressing the college coaches is their chance to get into the college of their choice. Choosing their college is a process most commonly known as ‘committing’, as they have chosen to commit to that college. Committing is a big deal for high school athletes, and each individual athlete’s process is different.


“So it happened pretty fast. I had a phone call with them [TCU] around March during the spring baseball season,” junior baseball player Jonathan Van Eerden said. “Then I went to a camp there in June, and they came out and saw me pitch one game and they offered me a scholarship. I waited a couple of months, talked to a couple of other schools and then I committed in August.”


There is not a specific time in which athletes have to verbally commit — whether they choose to earlier in the season, or at the very end. 


“For me, I think female soccer players, they usually commit earlier, which is why I committed junior year,” junior soccer player Jillian Anderson said. “And I think for me, I was at the point where I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else. So that’s why I committed when I did.”


As well as the different individual processes for each athlete, each sport also has different rules when it comes to communication with colleges and the verbal commitment itself.


“So for soccer, you can start talking to coaches June 15, after your sophomore year, and then you can start visiting on August 1 of that same year,” Anderson said.


While many sports prohibit coaches from talking to athletes until a certain date or length into said athletes season or year, athletes may initiate the contact to coaches and communicate with them in that form, as opposed to having to wait for a college or coach to contact them first.


“For baseball, the coach is not allowed to talk directly to you until September 1 of your junior year. I was allowed to call the coach and they can answer me, so I was able to communicate with them that way,” Van Eerden said. “And then as far as commitment wise, you can commit at any age, as long as both sides are in agreement.”


Choosing a college and then verbally committing to said college is a big decision. Randomly choosing a college and hoping it works out for the best may end up turning and you may end up regretting it. But just choosing a college based off of one factor alone, it has to feel right while also having all of the aspects of what an individuals dream college is. 

“Right now, there’s a lot of coaches that have contacted me and showed interest and I’m just working on figuring out who fits my style the best and why they’re the best fit for me,” undecided junior basketball player Kaiden Myers said. “I’m very family oriented. So I like being closer to home.”


For athletes, this usually means the college needs to have a good athletic program and in addition to a good team for an athletes’ specific sport. 


“I think I really loved everything about it. I love the mountains, I love that the campus is so close to a city, but it’s not a huge city like Dallas,” Anderson said. “And I think another thing that was really important that I saw was that the community is really a part of the sports and they want the sports to do well. Like a game, it’s full of people in the community that are supporting the team and want them to do well.”


Although verbally committing to a school is a big deal to athlete and most wait until they are absolutely sure and are ready to commit to said college, committing isn’t a one chance only type of process. There are many athletes that choose to commit to a college and then decide that they don’t like it or maybe they want to go somewhere else — this is a process known as decommitting. While it is not talked about a great deal, there are a number of athletes who decommit from a college and then commit to another. While there is no rush to verbally commit to a college, many athletes may feel rushed to commit.


“Well, there’s really no rush to commit. I don’t think that once you find the school that you like, then you have to commit,” Van Eerden said. “There are so many senior athletes that commit even later in their senior season. So just keep your head down and keep working hard and focus on the long run.”


There is no rush to commit to a college, especially in an athletes junior year because whatever college they choose, they will most likely be there for the rest of their college years.


“Be patient and don’t make any like quick decisions because you might regret it,” Myers said. “Basketball or any other sport is a very long journey and it takes a long time to figure out what you want to do and what type of player you really are.”


Verbally committing to a college is a big deal to junior athletes, and because of its large importance, it can seem daunting at the beginning.


“My biggest fear was probably just that it was all new to me,” Van Eerden said. “So just talking with schools and being on the phone with college coaches for the first time was just kind of nerve racking.”


And for most athletes, their individual sport is their future career, what they want to do for the rest of their life, or however long they can, so the prospect of not choosing or getting accepted to a college can be disquieting. 


“My biggest fear probably was not getting recruited, because I really love basketball,” Myers said. “I really wanted to do this for a long time, so not getting recruited would really hurt.”


College is a very different experience compared to high school, with new friends, new classes, and new challenges, especially for athletes who must juggle both their academic work as well as their respective sports.


“Just to smile and be kind to everyone because there’s so many different people and experiences,” Anderson said. “Being at such a big school has taught me that you really have to work hard and advocate for yourself. Find people that will help you be successful.”