“Before I found out you could get full-rides from sports and that I would be successful in football, I was just planning on going to community college because I didn’t feel like it was worth being in that much debt,” said Berkeley High School senior and Stanford football commit Jackson Harris. People play sports to feel a rush of physical exertion, to have a competitive outlet, and to hone their leadership skills, among other things. However, most people’s athletic careers are recreational and span only the years of their youth, but some people are more passionate, dedicated, and look for ways to extend this career into their college years. The search for a good fitting college is already difficult, and the added factor of athletics can drastically change the process in unanticipated ways.
As athletics enters the college decision equation, prospective student-athletes must examine and weigh their priorities. Optimizing for athletics doesn’t always translate to optimizing for academics. “I had other offers from PAC12 teams, and Utah would’ve been my decision if I wanted to do solely football and didn’t care about academics, but Stanford really is the dream,” Harris added.
Maxwell Jamison started playing baseball at age four, and playing competitively at age eight.
“I saw that baseball in college was a huge commitment and it would take a lot of work and time to get where I would want to go. As I got to know myself better, I realized that wasn’t for me,” he said. “My parents always taught me that knowledge is power and is the path to a good career, and at the end of the day baseball is just a game,” he elaborated. Despite playing baseball every day through high school, Jamison chose to make academics his main priority for his higher education experience.
EJ Cord, another BHS baseball player who’s played competitively for 11 years, wanted to play in college from the moment he learned that was a possibility for him in middle school. He pursued his dream through college ID camps and showcases, since high school baseball isn’t where athletes are typically recruited from. He is committed to play at William Jessup University, and found that in searching for a school through the baseball channel, he considered a set of criteria different from many of his peers.
“My decision had to do with the coaching staff, program values, what major I wanted, and how that lined up. It came down to how well a program would help me and how well I could help them,” he said.
BHS senior and varsity soccer player Amelie Haji received multiple offers, both athletic and academic. In the days before her decision, she said, “Whether I choose to accept an offer for soccer or go without playing at a collegiate level, soccer will continue to be a part of me.” There are many opportunities for athletes to play in college without being recruited.
“I am confident that I can find a soccer community wherever I end up going.” Haji said.
For many of these athletes, their sport will forever be a foundational part of them, whatever their future may hold.