**Recruiting Horror Stories™ are posted every Tuesday to provide athletes’ first-hand experiences of what can go wrong during the recruiting process.
Brittany was a freshman in high school, and she knew she wanted to compete at a Division I school. She had just recently changed club teams, giving her new connections into the college soccer world, the opportunity to compete at higher level tournaments, and setting her up to create success during college.
Getting Looks from Coaches
During one of her first tournaments on her new team, Brittany began to gain interest from a soccer dynasty Division I school in her home state of New Jersey. Looking back, she wishes she would’ve taken a step back and realized how early in the process it was. But, like any young fifteen year old, getting to go on visits, talk to coaches, and commit to play division I soccer was something she had always dreamed of.
Going on a Visit
Brittany decided to go on a visit. The campus was beautiful: everything she would’ve hoped for and then some. The university was far enough away from home to get a fresh start, but close enough that her parents could still come to games. Everything seemed to line up with what she thought she wanted. As the head coach, her parents, and she began talking about logistics, the coach said: “You have one week to let me know your decision.”
Scared about losing her offer and possibly getting no other interest, Brittany accepted a few days later. Looking back, Brittany wishes she had waited and not been rushed into making a decision. But at the time, it seemed like the best decision for her.
Reporting for Freshman Season
Three years later, Brittany reported for her first day on her new college team. Her freshman year went as planned: she adjusted to her new life as a student-athlete. Being a freshman, her playing time expectations were realistic, she knew she had to wait her turn, but her coach kept telling her, “you’re going to play, you’re going to play,” and those minutes never showed up.
During her end of the year meeting, Brittany was very honest with her coach. She told him that she didn’t know if this was the right fit. She didn’t know if she would get the playing time she wanted, but her coach assured her that she would have a starting position the next season.
At the time, Brittany was all ears. She showed up the next year extremely fit and ready to go, but to her surprise, she didn’t even make the travel roster for the first game. It was at this exact moment she realized all the manipulation that had been happening since her first recruiting trip. It was all empty promises. She was coerced into committing early, assured she was going to play, and constantly belittled.
Entering the Transfer Portal
Brittany realized that her only option was to leave. Following that season, she entered the transfer portal. She was getting interest from coaches, but they all ghosted her. She realized that everything was going well throughout her transfer process until coaches would talk to her then head coach. He was still manipulating her. Eventually, Brittany found a new university where she would fit in athletically and that would take her in with open arms. She was finally leaving behind her toxic coach.
Related: Coach Ratings
Advice from Brittany
Brittany advises anyone in her position to seek out mental health help. There is no reason to bottle in how you feel, and it helps to get the perspective of someone who isn’t involved in athletics or the team.
She encourages others to make the decision based on yourself, not your family, friends, or other pressures. At the end of the day, you are the one going through it, not anyone else.
During the recruiting process, she urges athletes to not just look at the aesthetic of the school. But the coaches’ relationships with the players as well, and to find a coach that really wants you to be on their team. There should be no rush. She reminds others that a school and experience shouldn’t take your love for your sport and if it does, you may need to rethink your decision.
Related: Knowing When to Transfer
Got a horror story of your own? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
* Originally published on November 30, 2021, by Andrea Leitner