Wednesday, November 9, was National Signing Day, which marks the opening of the signing period for high school athletes across the country. Berkeley High School held a signing ceremony on November 9, where students who committed to colleges for National Collegiate Athletic Association sports signed their National Letters of Intent. These are contracts between a student and a college that binds them to the school that they plan to play for. Four BHS commits were honored and celebrated at the campus library.
While the turnout was sparse, and one of the signees didn’t show up, the three who did had friends and family there supporting them. Their coaches gave speeches, and spoke about how proud they were.
Isabel Bessette, a member of the BHS crew team, will be rowing at Columbia, a Division 1 rowing school, next year, and her whole family came sporting Columbia sweatshirts. Another rower at the signing was Melinda Pullin, the coxswain for BHS girls crew. She is committed to University of California, San Diego and is very excited to continue rowing through college. “I couldn’t really imagine going into college without (crew)…I knew I wanted to have that community,” Pullin said. She loves how competitive the sport is and is excited to compete at such a high level, since UCSD is a Division I school for rowing.
A third athlete being honored was Ruby Hill. She’s committed to Bates College in Maine, which was her top school, to play Division III. Like Pullin, Hill couldn’t imagine “the idea of stopping playing soccer, I hate that idea, so I guess college is the next progression in that,” said Hill. She started making a list of potential colleges she wanted to attend in freshman year, and kept working to get recruited for the rest of high school. “The couple years after (making my list of schools) it was mostly just communications with coaches, and then junior year was a lot of going to ID camps, and visiting colleges,” Hill said.
Alejandro Mendoza, the girls varsity soccer coach, was supporting Hill at the signing event. Since Hill made varsity as a freshman, Mendoza has watched her progression over the span of four years. Mendoza recognized how impressive it is that these athletes have committed to schools, especially this early in the year.
“It’s very challenging to get recruited. It’s almost like a game of chance. So many possibilities, so many different coaches, so many different avenues, and you have to try and find the right one for you,” said Mendoza. As a coach, it’s his job to teach players how to reach out to college coaches and find the right school. “More than anything I help them with taking that step forward, that’s always the hardest because nothing is guaranteed once you cross that line, but expressing willingness to continue is the biggest step.” He thinks that working hard and putting yourself out there is vital for getting recruited as a student athlete.