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December 21, 2018

A Transfer Student-Athlete’s Story And Some Red Flags

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Being a transfer student is not an easy process, as a matter of fact it is very grueling because there are so many rules for a student-athlete. I was able to interview an former top high school cross country and track recruit in the nation. She is now a college athlete. Her options did not stop; unfortunately things didn’t go as planned with the option she chose. This athlete shares some red flags to watch out for during the recruiting process that she has experience in, and she shares her story as she has been a two-time recruit!

Kathryn: Looking back on your first recruiting process, was it honest and easy? If yes,how? If no, how?

The recruiting process is far from easy. It was really hard to squish four visits in before the first signing period while simultaneously running my senior cross country season. I ended up taking one less visit than the allotted five. I think my dad did an excellent job of helping me make lists on what I wanted in a school during my sophomore year and allowing me to take unofficial visits so when it came time for officials. I had an idea of where I wanted to visit. It was overall a  pretty honest process. At no point did I feel like I was falsely promised something or “sold” certain features of a program. The coaches I spoke with were interested in me being happy as both a student and an athlete whether that meant with their team or elsewhere. Finding the right fit and culture were emphasized. I will never forget a piece of advice I received from one coach on finding a school where you would be happy at even if you weren’t running.

Kathryn: What were some red flags (athletically or academically speaking) at the school you were at in which you knew it was not the right fit?

I enjoyed the location and atmosphere at my prior university. Although the academics were challenging, I was excelling in the classroom. Athletically, I had a good freshman year. I did not meet all the goals I set for myself but walked away with freshman records and many conferences and regional accolades. A week prior to returning for my second year, our coach decided to take another position. I was happy for him furthering his career, however, for a person who is already very close with her family, this made going back to school challenging. I battled with homesickness my freshman year but had a close-knit team, wonderful roommate, and supportive, funny coach to help me get through it. I was ready to go home at the end of freshman year but had enjoyed the adventure. When I got back to school, it was hard leaving my parents not knowing what to expect. My first cross country race was less than ideal and to top off that disappointment; I injured my foot a week later. I was never an injury prone person in high school and didn’t look into the medical and rehabilitation resources at the school when in high school. When injured I received very little medical care, and the whole process was very slow. Our new coach had been dealt a difficult situation which tore her away from the team during the cross-country season. I do not fault her for she was unaware she would be thrown into a head coaching position before the year began. I became very sad, homesick, and lonely when injured. I ended up going home for some treatment and therapy. However, I could only fly home so often being a full-time athlete. Our team was very small, and because of NCAA eligibility rules, I had to begin competing in indoor much sooner than my fitness was ready to keep our team compliant. Indoor was full of highs and lows. It was during this time I spoke with my family and people who coached me in high school and decided to reach out to another university with the thought of transferring.

Kathryn: After being at your new school, what advice would you give a high school athlete on making sure they find the right fit for them during their recruiting process?

Make sure you pick a school you will be happy at even if you are not running. Consider the future of the coaching staff and ask yourself if you see them staying there for years to come? Look at the leadership on the team and culture the present athletes have built. Also, consider the type/style of training at the program. Do you see this style helping you reach your goals? If you can’t buy into the process, and the coach is stuck in their philosophy, you will not see yourself achieve your goals. Also, consider when you are happiest. For me, I wanted to take a risk and leave my home state for college. However, I discredited how truly close I am to my family. Although I loved the adventure, I felt like something was always missing. You can always run four years at one school and maybe go out of state for grad school or a 5th year. Evaluate yourself and if you are ready to spread your wings and go far, fantastic, but if you are not there is no shame in staying close to home. I learned the best school for me was right in my backyard, and I have never been happier.

Kathryn: Was your second recruiting process better than the first? What made it better or worse?

It was really hard to begin the process. I had to get to my coach and ask permission to speak with other schools. I was terrified. I knew it was the right move for me emotionally, but it was scary thinking about breaking ties with the school I had initially fallen in love with. After I got the release, which was by far the hardest part, it got a lot easier. I wanted to be closer to home, and there was only one school I was looking at. I knew I needed a program that would foster a tight-knit team culture for years to come, as well as, a solid coach I could count on remaining with the program. Our team lost both a coach and team component after my freshman year, and I didn’t want to go through this again. This made the process very simple and only one school I desired to attend. It was hard going through the process without letting anyone know what was going on. I didn’t want to offend my team but needed to do what was best for me. Working quietly and from a distance with the process was hard, as well as, making the final decision to leave. When money and your education is on the line, it hard to finalize any decision.

Did you have any challenges in your recruiting process? If yes, how did you overcome it?

Not really. It was hard not being able to make phone calls during my second recruiting process publicly. Everything had to be kept on the down low, which is extremely challenging when you add the out of state distance into the equation. When I finally transferred some of the school and application process was challenging. I had to pick a new major and make sure I could maximize credits transferring.

Kathryn:What were the top three things you would recommend a high schooler to look for in a school and athletic program?

Coaching stability

A close-knit team with strong leadership

Academic and medical resources/support

Kathryn: Did you have any funny encounters with a coach or current team member when you were a recruit?

If yes, explain it! I am short, and the coaching staff underestimated how short I am at this school everyone road bikes around campus. The assistant coach lent me her bike, but it was still way too big. I only brought skirts on my visit, and when struggling to get on the bike, I successfully flashed the coaches and girls on the team, as well as, cutting my ankle.

There are so many factors to apply to make this decision. Try not to overlook things that may seem unimportant to you, because they all have an impact and can set you up for the right place, right away! We hope after hearing this story; you can adjust considering factors, you may have not even thought about before.