Becoming a college athlete is something that many kids dream of. However, it’s a dream that is difficult to achieve.
According to the NCAA, there are over eight million high school athletes in the United States. However, only 480,000 of those athletes go on to play sports in college. This year at City High, a handful of athletes have already announced their plans to go to college to continue their athletic careers. Nate Wieland ‘17 announced in June that he plans to attend Northern Illinois University, a school in the Mid-American Conference, to continue to play football. Alexa Ingram ‘17 announced in August that she plans to go to Drake University in Des Moines to play volleyball. Grace Brown ‘17 is headed to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to play Big Ten soccer, and Shannon Stamp ‘17 has committed to play volleyball at Concordia University of Chicago. Joe Hoff ‘17 will be playing tennis at Creighton University, a Big East school in Omaha, next year. Finally, Mary Arch ‘17 plans to, but has not yet officially signed to run cross country and track at the University of Iowa. One junior, Ashley Joens, a five star basketball recruit — according to ESPN — has already committed to Iowa State.
The process is not easy. Only the top recruits get noticed early, while others have trouble getting noticed, especially by NCAA Division I schools. This is something that baseball player Brett McCleary ‘17 has experienced. Next year, he says he plans to play junior college baseball to give him more time to develop and to try to get more attention from top programs.
“Going in my dream was always to play at the highest level,” McCleary said. “I have spent a ton of time picking out the right showcases and camps and making videos to send to coaches [in order to help with my recruiting process].”
Shannon Stamp ‘17 has had a slightly different experience than McCleary. Stamp, a Concordia University of Chicago volleyball commit, says the toughest part for her was actually deciding which school to choose.
“The beginning was easy for me, you just have to send out as many emails as you can and see who responds and who has interest in you, but when coaches and schools actually start to recruit you it’s kind of shocking at how many choices you end up having that fit your ‘wants,’” Stamp said. “Eventually you narrow it down, and it was a huge decision but I went with my gut and I think that’s what most people do.”
Other athletes at City High have received attention. Seniors Jordain Buckland, Vance Dillon, and Naeem Smith have all obtained offers from William Penn, a small school in Oskaloosa, Iowa to be apart of its football program.
In addition to athletes struggling to get attention from college programs, some athletes find it hard to attract interest from schools outside of the Midwest. The furthest traveller in this year’s recruiting class is Grace Brown, with a 303 mile commute. Mary Arch ‘17 originally pictured herself competing at Dallas Baptist University or Indiana Wesleyan University, but ultimately decided to run collegiately at the University of Iowa. Upon visiting each school she felt that what Iowa brought to the table would be a better fit for her.
In addition to the process, once they get there, student-athletes have to live a life always in the spotlight. In many ways, they represent their schools to the general public in a way that other students can’t. This is something that Steve Roe, Director of Athletic Communications at the University of Iowa, emphasizes.
“In today’s world of social media and such, we constantly remind our student-athletes that the camera is on 24/7, and they have to be aware of that,” Roe said. On the other hand, we have a lot of great examples of student-athletes who are recognized for their academics and community service, so we try to balance both sides,”
Through the struggles of college recruitment, numerous City athletes have excelled at the high school level, and have committed to continue their sport on a bigger stage.
Click on the pictures below to read more about the athletes: