The Student News Site of University Prep

The Puma Press

The Student News Site of University Prep

The Puma Press

The Student News Site of University Prep

The Puma Press

Once A Puma, Always A Puma

University Prep student athletes reflect on their college recruitment process
Once+A+Puma%2C+Always+A+Puma

In the United States, over 8 million students participate in a sport in high school, but only 6.5% play at the next level, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Of the 6.5%, are two members of the University Prep community, Seniors Annie Sjolander and Eliza Barton. With hours of work that goes into it, the college recruiting process is not for everyone.
Sjolander played volleyball with UPrep for seven years, and in the early summer of 2023, she committed to play at Kenyon College in Ohio.
“The process is very long and grueling,” Sjolander said. “It starts way earlier than most people’s college searches start.”
For student-athletes, much of the effort towards the college recruiting process falls on them, such as communication with coaches. Barton played soccer on UPrep’s Varsity team for four years and recently committed to playing at Carleton College in Minnesota.

“The communication and work I have had to put in over the past years and especially the last year to make this happen was not what I was expecting,” Barton said.
Similarly to those not pursuing athletics at the next level, student-athletes must visit the campuses, and ensure they like the school not just for its athletics, but also its academics.

“I went and toured colleges early and met with the coaches and teams,” Sjolander said.
Student-athletes must also make sacrifices to get their name out into the recruiting world, such as going tocollege recruitment identification (ID) camps where a collection of student athletes meet coaches from across the country.

“Coaches want to see you play,” Barton said, “So it means traveling and missing school and social events to go to ID camps and tournaments.”
Although the process can be daunting, Barton noted that getting past the fear of rejection was one of the most notable steps to achieving goals.
“It’s easy to be scared and feel nervous because you are putting yourself out there,” Barton said. “But don’t hold yourself back for fear of rejection.”
Sjolander emphasized the importance of being one’s true self during the college recruiting process.

“Be genuine, coaches don’t like when you tell them that they are your top three choices when they are not,” Sjolander said. “Don’t lead the coach on, because you wouldn’t want them to lead you on, and it makes the process a whole lot easier if you are honest and genuine the whole time.”

Eliza Barton

Carleton College, MN

 

Barton could not imagine her life without soccer.

“I love the game and the community it builds,” Barton said. “To stop playing now would make my soccer journey feel incomplete.”

Barton has played on six different teams from elementary school to highschool but has still been able to find the same camaraderie and competitiveness on each team.

“Everyone wants to win,” Barton said. “But at the same time, everyone is building each other up.”

Annie Sjolander 

Kenyon College, OH

 

Sjolander has many incentives to pursue athletics incollege.

“I love the game and didn’t want to stop playing, and I also knew it could get me into a pretty good school that I might not have otherwise gotten into,” Sjolander said. “There are a lot of benefits of being a student-athlete that appeal to me.”

Since joining the UPrep volleyball team in sixth grade, Sjolander has played with many different students and coaches.
“My favorite part is definitely the team aspect,” Sjolander said. “Just building really strong connections with my teammates and my coaches.”

Zack Hampson 

Linfield College, OR

 

Zack Hampson, who graduated from UPrep in 2023,, committed to playing baseball for Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, in May 2023.

“I’ve always loved the game of baseball and competing at a higher level,” Hampson said. “I wanted to continue my baseball career to see how long I could go with it.”
Hampson noted that despite the successfulend result, his process was not easy.

“I got started on the recruiting process really late,” Hampson said. “I didn’t start until my junior year summer.”

As the 2023 season went on, Hampson continued to work for his dreams.

I kept hearing back from coaches that their teams were full in our 2023 class, just because I had started so late, ” Hampson said. “I got a little worried and wondered if it wasn’t gonna happen but then the [Linfield] coach called and told me they had a spot for me there if I wanted it.”

 

 

About the Contributors
Grady Stone, Reporter
Grady Stone is a reporter on the Puma Press staff. This is his first year on staff. His favorite stories to write are sports stories within the UPrep community. He enjoys how journalism allows him to write without too much stress. Outside the classroom, Grady is a baller two sport varsity starting athlete.
Avi Patel, Business Manager and Graphics Editor
Avi Patel is the Business Manager and Graphics Editor for the Puma Press. He is a sophomore and this is his second year on staff. He loves writing news stories and op-eds. His favorite part of journalism is providing the community with reliable and accurate information, and sharing stories that students and faculty would not hear otherwise. Outside of journalism, he enjoys playing squash, hiking, and spending time with his family and friends.