Record Number of Athletes Commit to Schools Across the Country

Senior+Travis+Vokolek+talks+to+KOLR+10+about+his+committment+to+Rutgers+University.+%E2%80%9CI+use+to+freak+out+about+what+I+was+going+to+say+but+at+this+point%2C+there%E2%80%99s+been+so+many+of+them+that+I%E2%80%99ve+gotten+use+to+it%2C%E2%80%9D+Vokolek+said.+%0APhoto+Courtesy+of+Riley+McCullough
Senior Travis Vokolek talks to KOLR 10 about his committment to Rutgers University. “I use to freak out about what I was going to say but at this point, there’s been so many of them that I’ve gotten use to it,” Vokolek said. 
Photo Courtesy of Riley McCullough

Senior Travis Vokolek talks to KOLR 10 about his committment to Rutgers University. “I use to freak out about what I was going to say but at this point, there’s been so many of them that I’ve gotten use to it,” Vokolek said. Photo Courtesy of Riley McCullough

Senior Travis Vokolek talks to KOLR 10 about his committment to Rutgers University. “I use to freak out about what I was going to say but at this point, there’s been so many of them that I’ve gotten use to it,” Vokolek said. Photo Courtesy of Riley McCullough

Heather West, News Editor

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23 senior athletes have committed to play a sport at the college level in over seven different states. The process these athletes go through is called recruitment. Merriam-Webster defines recruitment as the process of adding new individuals to a population. Senior basketball player and Navy signee Cameron Davis says simply communicating with coaches on any level is active recruiting.

“Lots of people think recruiting is signified by offers,” Davis said. “Recruitment can be defined whenever college coaches begin contacting you.”

Athletes are recruited at different times in their high school careers. For senior football player Travis Vokolek, the process was a fun but stressful time.

“I’m a late bloomer in the recruiting process. I wasn’t heavily recruited as a junior,” Vokolek said. He explains how in the last week before signing day, a lot  happened for him. After a lengthy process and 11 offers, Vokolek committed to Rutgers University.

“When I committed to Rutgers it took so much weight off my shoulders and it was such a relief. Now I am focused on finishing my senior year strong and enjoying it,” Vokolek said.

Senior basketball player Jared Ridder was heavily recruited before his senior year, making his recruitment process longer than Vokolek’s. With 15 offers before his final commitment to Xavier University, Ridder explained how he knew he wanted to attend Xavier after he visited and talked to different coaches, players and academic advisors. However, Ridder says his journey through recruitment wasn’t much different.

“I don’t think the process changes at all but you get more time to take more visits and get a feel for where you want to go,” Ridder said.

Differing from Vokolek and Ridder, senior basketball player Jordan Sanders had a difficult time deciding what school would work best for her academic and athletic needs.

“Making a decision was very hard for me. Having previously decommitted from another school and now being presented with so many good options to choose from, I didn’t want to make the wrong decision.” Sanders said.

After Sanders decommitted from Illinois State, she joined a new traveling basketball team that opened up new opportunities and allowed her to play against more challenging competitors.

“Getting the chance to play in front of [a variety of different coaches] helped me get interest from different schools, which led to scholarship offers and lots of visits to schools from all over,” Sanders said.

She narrowed down her list and committed to University of California Irvine this past summer.

Unlike Sanders, senior swimmer Krystal Caylor found the recruitment process to be one of the easiest decisions she’s ever made.

“I got an offer I couldn’t shoot down and I already know the swim coach because he was a previous coach of mine,” Caylor said.

Caylor is a University of Indianapolis signee and explains how her recruitment process differs from other sports.

“There truly is a large sea of fish to catch and every coach out there wants to get the best catch,” Caylor said. “It isn’t just about how fast you swim, it’s about how hard you work to be that fast.”

Similar to Caylor, baseball players go through a different recruitment process due to the fact that the game of baseball is inconsistent.

“There isn’t as much flash to the sport like basketball or football where a player can make a highlight reel and get an offer before a coach even sees them in person,” senior baseball player Michael Barnes said.

Barnes is a Fort Scott CC signee which is a community college in Kansas. Attending community college is the same route as attending a junior college (juco) for baseball players.

“[I think] baseball players choose the juco route because you can be drafted during either year of your time,” Barnes said.

However, there is another side to choosing a junior or community college.

“The part I kinda fall under is to have two more years to get stronger and better [as a player] and then possibly get drafted or finish up my two other years at a D1 school,” Barnes said.

With five senior signees, the girls soccer team is coming into the season with a 21-4-2 record and has the most signees in 10 years. Among the five, seniors Skylr Houzenga and Jessica Weedin are both heading to Southwest Baptist University.

“I chose SBU because the coaches were very welcoming and the team made me feel like I was already a part of the team,” Houzenga said. She is excited to have Weedin join her.

“Having Jessica with me next year is going to help me get through my first year of college,” Houzenga said.

As of early February, four track runners have committed to three different schools around Missouri.

“I would have never imagined I would have gotten to compete at the college level. I owe [Goddard] everything for getting me to the college level,” senior cross country runner Alex Bossing said.

lex and his twin brother Tyler are both attending William Woods University. The two are running in similar races and are excited to attend college together.

“It wasn’t [an easy choice] because I wasn’t sure if it was the best but knowing Tyler wanted to go helped me feel better about [my decision],” Bossing said.

The recruitment process is different for every athlete. For athletes just beginning the the process, these senior athletes suggest asking plenty of questions, being patient and continuing to work hard.

“It’s an exciting time and will be something [you] look back on forever. Don’t worry about how many offers you have or how many coaches come to see you. All you need is one school, the right school, to believe in you. Once you are ready to make your decision, you will know where to go. It’s a feeling in your heart. Trust it,” Davis said.

 

Senior Krystal Caylor with her brother Zach and their mother at Krystal’s signing. “I loved having the people who support me the most at my signing. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way,” Caylor said.
Photo Courtesy of Riley McCullough

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Record Number of Athletes Commit to Schools Across the Country