Recruitment: Alaska Athletes Must Be Seen and Remembered

Every athlete knows that college is the next step in raising the level of their game. Athletes have to find their own way into college athletics and the recruitment process can be complicated.

The process can become even more complicated when the athlete is from Alaska.

As Tiffany Jackson, a Dimond senior pursuing a collegiate softball career, says, “The college recruitment process is so difficult it’s crazy. It is a lot harder for an Alaskan player.”

Why is the process so difficult for Alaskans?

Collegiate prospect Emma Ostberg says that with the limited population in certain sports, such as soccer or softball, college coaches do not want to travel all the way here to watch only a few players.

This means that it is up to the athlete to prove themselves to the coach.

As Kelsey Eagle says, “The goal is to be seen and remembered.”

Many athletes start with emails. They send emails out to many different coaches and hope for an answer.

Eagle says that emailing is essential for soccer because coaches cannot contact athletes over the phone before September 1st of their Junior year. That rule is a part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, NCAA, recruiting rules.

NCAA has hundreds of rules that limit collegiate coaches from contacting or reaching out to athletes. The recruitment process and calendar is different for every sport.

Hockey players do not start their process till late in their high school career. For them to be recruited they must first join a Junior league team.

Augie Stevens, a Dimond senior and collegiate hockey prospect, says “It is rare for a high school player to go directly from high school to college.”

Players usually go to Juniors first and from there be scouted by college coaches.

For football players, they start their process junior or senior year. They begin with sharing highlight films with their coaches, who from there send them to colleges for prospect.

For most athletes, the most important aspect of college recruitment is exposure.

Volleyball players travel out of state to participate in camps and compete in tournaments. According to senior Jenna Hickel, since there is only one major club in Alaska it is essential that collegiate volleyball prospects travel to the Lower 48 to compete against higher and more serious competition.

The same goes for soccer. With only a couple of teams in each age group, soccer players must participate in tournaments and camps out of state to be seen by college coaches.

Soccer is very different from football or hockey as the recruitment process is occurring earlier and earlier. Division 1 universities are looking to recruit players in their freshman or sophomore year.

Senior Malia Lyken, was recruited by University of California Davis a Division 1 university in her sophomore year before getting injured and now plans on playing at Northern Arizona University, a different Division 1 school.

Different sports have distinct spoken and unspoken rules when it comes to athletic collegiate recruitment. The rule that crosses all sport lines is that for an Alaskan player to play in college, “You must be seen and remembered.”