This time of year, it’s not uncommon to stroll through M-A and pass groups of zombie-fied, sweatpants-clad seniors injecting espresso into their veins, collapsing on the green, or sobbing in Ms.Nguyen’s arms. College applications season is here. 

A few seniors stand out from the crowd: brushed hair and clean clothes designate them as already-recruited senior athletes. Thanks to a verbal commitment, they are able to avoid the bulk of applications that their peers suffer. Starting as early as sophomore year, student-athletes begin contacting college coaches, putting together highlight reels, and attending skill camps in order to earn a spot on a collegiate athletic team. Although there are strict rules on communication between college coaches and high school athletes—which vary by sport—most are recruited between the second semester of junior year and the first semester of senior year. 

It’s no surprise that M-A is packed with talented athletes. Over the past 70 years, over 450 seniors have gone on to play sports in college. In the last two classes alone, colleges across the country recruited 43 M-A students. This year is no different: ten seniors already have announced verbal commitments. Here are some of their stories.

Ava Martin: Tennis, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Senior Ava Martin is thrilled to be a badger on the University of Wisconsin at Madison’s Division I tennis team. Although she was massively humble about her tennis talent in our interview, Martin is a five-star recruit and the first PAL player to play in a CCS championship singles match in 14 years.

Photo courtesy of Ava Martin.

Have you always played tennis?

I’ve always played growing up. Ever since I could walk, I was hitting tennis balls with my dad. So yeah, it’s been a while! I started playing at tournaments when I was eight and I play both doubles and singles. I also played varsity at M-A all four years.

What’s your specialty on the court?

I really like my forehand slice and my serve.

Tell me about your recruitment experience.

Basically, it started right after I finished sophomore year of high school. It was difficult because there are only a couple of really big tennis tournaments where coaches are able to come and watch you play and get a sense of your game. Those two tournaments happened in August and December. I ended up doing well at one of those tournaments: that’s how I got recruited! I committed in May of junior year.

Were you always destined to be a Badger or were there any other offers you considered?

I had other offers from Davis, Villanova, and Arizona. I also really liked Cal Poly and Georgetown but I just thought that Wisconsin was the best fit for me academically and tennis-wise.

How did COVID impact you?

Not that much—it more affected the grades above me. It did somewhat impact me because there were fewer spots for schools. On average, each school can only recruit for 2 spots—everyone is fighting for those 2 spots. A lot of seniors were given a 5th year because of COVID, so that means there were fewer spots available for me for my year. But it ended up working out!

Any advice for other student-athletes?

Don’t burn out—which is hard to control! Just make sure that you have a really good balance between social, academic, and sports life. That’s basically the key to success!

Soane Faasolo: Football, University of Washington

Image courtesy of Soane Faasolo.

Senior Soane Faasolo is verbally committed to the University of Washington as a left tackle on their Division I football team—go Huskies!

How did you start playing football?

My first time playing football was in 8th grade. I got introduced to it by my friends. They said they needed a couple of guys to play so I was like, ‘let me just go try it out for the moment.’ Once I did, I fell in love with the game, so I kept playing.

What was the recruitment process like?

I got my first offer late in my junior year—that’s when it started. The recruitment process was very stressful at first. I had to talk to a lot of coaches at the same time. It was kind of difficult: every college would brag about its own program. It was very hard to decide between them. In the recruitment process, the hardest part was during the summer. All the colleges are trying to reach out and make you visit, and trying to show off to you. I verbally committed to UW in June! I will officially commit in December.

Any other colleges you considered?

It was between Cal [UC Berkeley] and UW—those were my final two choices. My coaches and I talked about it. I talked to my parents about it. I talked to Jurrion [Dickey] and Jeremiah [Earby] about it. All my family wanted me to go somewhere else, but at the end of the day, they liked what I chose. No matter what, they will always support me- that’s the thing about my family!

Any advice for hopeful recruits?

For those who are getting recruited, you should talk to your family about it. Just talk to someone! Vent your own ideas and thoughts about the whole recruitment process because it’s gonna be stressful at times.

Amelia Poirier: Lacrosse, Vassar College

Senior Amelia Poirier is ready to Brew with a verbal commitment to play Division III lacrosse as an attack at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Photo courtesy of Amelia Poirer.

Was the lax life always for you?

Kinda. I started playing lacrosse when I was in the second grade, and it was only because my parents forced me to play a spring sport, but I ended up loving it. I knew I wanted to play in college when I was a freshman and made the varsity team at M-A. I was like, ‘I need to do this in college.’ I was captain junior year and now senior year at M-A. I’m really excited—this year will be super fun!

What was the recruitment process like?

I started trying to get recruited in the summer going into my junior year. Basically, that consisted of me emailing coaches. Then, during the school year, I went to a bunch of play-days and clinics on the east coast because that’s where all the schools I was looking at were. Over this past summer, going into senior year is when it really ramped up. I started doing more phone calls with coaches and meeting in person with them at their schools. In the end, I was between Williams College and Vassar College. Ultimately I committed on July 23rd to Vassar!

Did COVID affect your recruitment at all?

I would’ve tried to get recruited in my sophomore year but because of COVID everything was online and I couldn’t compete with my club team, which was the main source of my recruitment. So, it set me back a little bit, but most of the traveling I had to do was after lockdown ended—it wasn’t that big of a deal.

What would you tell a younger, unrecruited Amelia?

Just trust the process. Don’t get hyper-fixated on one school. Whatever happens, happens—you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be!

Gigi Edwards: Soccer, Tufts University

Photo courtesy of Gigi Edwards.

Senior Gigi Edwards is verbally committed as a goalkeeper to Tufts University’s Division III soccer team. Go Jumbo or go home!

Tell me about your soccer history.

I have been playing since kindergarten—five years old. I played AYSO, then Alpine Strikers, and became a full-time goalie in the middle of 6th grade. Then I moved to the MVLA club, which is the club I currently play for—best club ever! I played varsity at M-A all four years. Now, I’m co-captain with Susie Wagstaff—go Bears! I love supporting my school. It’s the best part of the year.

How did you get recruited?

It started fall semester of my junior year: I went to a presentation that was about the college recruiting process. I had always dreamt of doing it—always! Pretty much every single month I emailed a list of schools with updates on grades or tournaments or games and tracked their responses. You also go to ID camps—which are unique to soccer—where you go visit the school. Or, a bunch of coaches all gather and you play for them and you see if you like them, and they see if they like you. Or they go see tournaments. In particular for me, Tufts is on the east coast, so they don’t really have a reason to come all the way here and watch me play. So I went two summers in a row to a two-day ID camp there. I met the coaches and stayed in touch by email and video.

Did COVID impact the recruitment process?

COVID made it a lot more difficult for coaches to come and see you play. They had to rely on you sending video—highlight reels. Zoom became really important. You couldn’t visit many colleges; you had to strategically choose who to visit. That was a hard decision for me!

Did you get any other offers?

Johns Hopkins and Case Western offered, but the academics didn’t fit me as well. I always knew that Tufts was at the top of my list. Since the very beginning, it was my dream school.

Give us some sage words of already-recruited wisdom!

Honestly, I think it really depends on the sport and the position that you play but overall, the communication that you have between the coaches and the team and you is the most important part. Being able to keep in constant communication, have them remember your name. Stuff like that will keep you in the back of their head. That’s the most important part: make them remember your name!

George Zaharias: Baseball, University of Texas at Austin

Senior George Zaharias is excited to hook ‘em, horns as a pitcher on UT Austin’s Division I baseball team. He was one of the earliest recruits of the class of ‘23, announcing his decision in March 2021—almost a year before others did.

Photo courtesy of George Zaharias.

Tell me about your recruitment process.

It started freshman year, during quarantine. I started playing travel baseball really seriously and started getting connections one by one throughout the summer and it kind of took off from there. I committed to UT Austin as a pitcher in March of sophomore year.

How did you get into baseball?

I first started playing when I was two or three, just in my backyard playing baseball. On M-A’s team, I played JV freshman year and then three years of varsity.

How is senior year without college applications?

It’s very nice not having to worry about all the essays and the applications and all that—it’s really nice!

Any advice for prospective recruits?

Try and get your name out there as much as you can—that’ll help in the long run!

As more commitments trickle in, it’s clear that the class of ‘23 is supremely athletic. Other intended collegiate athletes include:

  • Jurrion Dickey, Football, University of Oregon
  • Anna Ryan, Volleyball, Claremont McKenna College
  • Caroline Pecore, Rowing, Yale University 
  • David Tangilanu, Football, Brigham Young University
  • Kiely Tabaldo, Wrestling, Colorado Mesa University

For future student athletes interested in recruitment, just remember: Trust the process. Talk to someone. Make them remember your name, and don’t burn out!

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