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September 6, 2021

Recruiting Horror Stories: Facebook Almost Cost me my Athletic Scholarship

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When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, my friend Madi would excitedly respond with, “the first girl to play for the Yankees.” Madi began playing competitive softball when she was in the 5th grade. Every afternoon, you would see her walking out of school with her large bat bag draped over her shoulders and a broad smile on her face. That was because she was headed to either a late-night practice or a game. 

As we entered the tumultuous high school years, Madi’s love of the sport did not dwindle. She spent every waking moment thinking about her future softball career; school dances were missed, sleepovers were forgone, and at the end of the year, parties were sacrificed. She never minded missing these “milestones” of high school because her sport came first. She knew that she had to prioritize her work, both academically and athletically, to make her dream come true. Aside from her incredible prowess on the field, Madi was also a straight-A student. Even with all of this preparation, she still found herself face-to-face with a Recruiting Horror Story™.

Reaching Out to College Coaches

Reaching out to college coaches started when she was in 8th grade. Having a large Microsoft Excel document with valuable information on each coach like their name, email address, hometown, accolades, experience as players, etc was the only way for her. The second tab was filled with important information on each school, such as size, majors offered, graduation rate, academic support opportunities, etc. Just the sight of this list was not only impressive but also overwhelming. Madi loved showing us her lists, and as her teammates, we were excited for her. 

One day during practice, Madi’s father pulled out an enormous video camera. His daughter was up to bat, and her father recorded as we all backed up into the outfield. We were attempting to prepare for Madi’s last home run. When we asked Madi what was going on, she exclaimed, “We just started filming my skills video, and I’m so excited!” This was a thrilling reminder that she was one step closer to achieving her dream. 

Related: HUDL | A Great Resource for Athletes Who Need to Make a Highlight Video

School Visits

Over the coming months, this superstar visited a ton of schools, both officially and unofficially. As mere freshmen in high school, we stood dumbfounded as she rattled off facts about the various schools. By sophomore year of high school, Madi started getting scouted by a crazy amount of universities. 

By the time we were seniors, Madi had received a plethora of scholarship offers from a large number of schools. She would always try to ask our opinion on which school she should attend. Some statements that she would fire at us were, “this school has a great softball program, but the coach is known to be hard on her players, but this school has never won a National Championship, but the coach and her players have a great relationship and team dynamic; what do you guys think?” As much as we wanted to help her, we knew that this was her decision. 

Related: How to Prepare for Your College Visits

Picking Her Dream School

After much deliberation, Madi ended up picking her dream school. She was over the moon. All that was left for her to do was sign her National Letter of Intent. The process was finally over, so she spent the next two weeks enjoying her friends and high school. She went to parties, sleepovers and enjoyed just being a typical teenager. 

In the past, Madi was extremely diligent about what she posted on her social media platforms. Everything was checked and then checked again before things were posted.  

Related: Social Factors You Need to Consider when Picking a College

One Facebook Post

Madi was attending a house party, and out of the blue one of her friends started snapping a couple of pictures, the images were of her holding a red solo cup. Without thinking of the possible adverse outcomes, her friend uploaded the images to Facebook and tagged all of us in them. The very next morning, Madi was contacted by her future college coach. Although she tried to explain that there was diet coke in the cup, she knew what her coach was thinking. She was then given a stern talking to about the ramifications of posting “suggestive photos.” The coach emphasized the importance of maintaining a “clean” appearance on all platforms of social media. She knew that she could have lost not only her scholarship but also the opportunity to play for her dream school. 

This was a warning, but needless to say Madi was utterly freaked out by the incident. In the blink of an eye, her dream could have vanished. The next day, Madi not only asked her friend to delete the picture but also made us all sign written agreements that stated that we would have to “ask her permission to post any images of her on any form of social media, including but not limited to, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.” We all understood and agreed to sign the agreement without any hesitation. 

Madi shares her experience with future collegiate athletes. She states, “I want all high school athletes to understand how one simple mistake can ruin their dream.”

Related: Keeping Your Social Media Clean as a College Recruit