Athletes Share Insight into the Recruitment Process


Nikki Suzani, Managing Editor

As college application deadlines roll around, seniors at Gunn are frantically working on their essays, sending their transcripts out and doing everything they can to get into the school of their choice. For recruited athletes, however, they’ve been training for years to guarantee that spot in their top college choice.

Swimmer Jerry Yang is in the process of going on recruiting trips and deciding on schools to spend his next four years at. “I’ve been swimming for a long time; swimming takes up a lot of my day, and I just felt like it would really give me a boost into getting into the college of my choice,” he said. “It’s my best way to contribute to the college.” Yang has been swimming for 11 years, and has dedicated a significant portion of his life in order to be good enough to be recruited.

Soccer player Jimmy Hahn also emphasized the hard work that is required to finally get to the point of being recruited. “I’ve played soccer all my life,” he said. “I put a lot of my free time into soccer.” Hahn is getting recruited by Macalester College, a private liberal arts school in Minnesota, and a Division 3 soccer school.

11 years is a long time to play a sport, and for Yang, it hasn’t all been fun—he’s experienced burn- out and times where he didn’t feel like swimming, but he has always perservered, picking himself back up. “I like swimming a lot, but there’s been a couple years where I’ve kind of felt burned out and I didn’t enjoy it as much,” he said. “Taking breaks definitely helped get back into things.”

Especially at a competitive level, sports can become dangerous and Hahn stresses the necessity for future athletes to always put themselves first. “Be smart about your body,” he said. “If you’re starting to get injured or something is hurting, rest, because a lot of people get injured and just miss the entire recruitment process.”

As for the process itself, it requires initiative to reach out to coaches that athletes believe might accept them. “You need to definitely start early, because with new rule changes, they’ve started recruiting a lot earlier,” Yang said. “If a coach doesn’t respond to you, just keep on sending them emails, updating them and sometimes they aren’t really good at returning emails, so keep on emailing them. Make sure you respond to emails as soon as possible.”

Sometimes, if the team goes to more competitive tournaments, coaches might come to watch the players to decide who they think is good enough for the college team. “You either have to contact them and ask them to come watch you, and go to a camp or they will watch you in a tournament or something, which happened with both of mine, and then they’ll contact you,” Hahn said.

Even after the years he put into the sport, a few coaches still turned Yang down, but he was able to get through it and keep pushing through the process. “A coach has never told me in person that I’m not fast enough, but they have over email,” he said. “That’s kind of the hard part. At that point, you just train harder and look at other schools.” When it comes to juggling both academics and sports, it can be a struggle, especially for Yang, who missed a lot of school to go on recruiting trips. “Recruited athletes have to work twice as hard because they have to maintain their grades and go to practice,” he said. “At this level, you’re training three hours a day and morning practices are devoted to swimming so you have less time to study, which makes academics harder. Another hard part is with recruiting trips, since they want to get you a taste of the swim team and school life, so you’ll be missing a lot of school, meaning you’ll have to make it all up. Last week, I missed five days of school because of recruiting trips, so I had to make that all up.”

At the end of the day, even with the challenges of playing a sport competitively, Yang finds joy in swimming and plans to continue through college for all four years. “Nowadays, swimming is relaxing for me, and everytime I get into the pool it feels good to be in the water, and super relaxing to be there,” he said. “It’s fun when you destroy everyone.”