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Recruitment During the Pandemic: Hopkins Athletes Continue to Attract the Attention of Coaches and Sign Letters of Intent

Anika Madan ’24 Campus Correspondent
According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), approximately eight million students participate in high school athletics, out of which more than 480,000 students compete as NCAA athletes.
The most important steps of the college athletic recruitment process are getting in contact with coaches, visiting campus, hosting visits from coaches, receiving scholarship offers, and signing the National Letter of Intent. The Hopkins senior
athletes that committed this year are Cooper Bucklan, Nicholas Wilkinson, Katherine Park, Riley Lipman, Drew Williams, Brooke Lane, Gonzalo de la Mora, Ethan Woolbert, and Cristin Earley.

Bucklan, who has been playing lacrosse since he was three, will be attending Swarthmore College. He was introduced to the coach there at a showcase in the fall. He said, “My dad and Coach Bartush here at Hopkins have been by my side at all times.” This support system helped him greatly throughout the application process. He noted that the most difficult part for him was “maintaining solid grades in the classroom while training and practicing consistently.”

Wilkinson has played squash since he was seven years old. He will be attending Bowdoin College. He began the process in the September of his junior year and committed in July. He said, “It’s difficult mentally when coaches show a lot of interest in you and then they don’t make you an offer.” He suggested, “We need to understand that these coaches are trying to keep as many kids interested in their programs as possible.”

Park will attend Brown University for soccer, which she has been playing since first grade. She stated, “Although many [coaches] were helpful, my club team coach, Jack, was the most because he handled a lot of the communication between the Brown coaches.” Unfortunately, she tore her ACL, which was the “most difficult part of the process.” Her recovery took about one year long and she added that she has “to work really hard to make up for lost time and prepare for the college season.”

Lipman has been playing soccer since she was four years old. She will be attending Vassar College and began the recruitment process between sixth and seventh grade. She describes how it was challenging “travelling to dozens of showcases with [her] ECNL [Elite Clubs National Team] to places like Florida, Arizona, Texas, and Washington because the process as a whole was stressful.

Williams began to play tennis competitively when she was twelve years old. She committed to Bates College, after meeting the coaches at a college showcase. Williams explained, “Because she [her mom] knows me better than myself, she helped me find a good fit both academically and athletically.” This balance between school and sports was the most difficult to sort out, so her mom was “unbelievably helpful” with this.

Lane will be attending Macalester College for water polo, which she has been playing for five years. She calls attention to the fact that there are many little tedious things to be done for the process, so her mom was helpful in keeping track of them, along with managing emails and phone calls. Lane described how Covid was the biggest obstacle because there were “so many restrictions on how a coach could communicate with a prospective athlete.” Lane also pointed out a problem affecting all
seniors: “I was unable to go to any in-person visits, so I had to decide whether I liked a school without having seen it in person.” Finally, “all competition and practices were cancelled, so it made it impossible for coaches to see me play.”

De la Mora has played squash since he was eight years old and began competing two years later. He will be playing at Columbia University. His old club coach, Lynn Leong, who is the associate head pro at Yale University, was “super helpful” because she gave him “unbiased advice.” De la Mora said, “The actual recruitment process wasn’t that difficult because most of the work that goes into getting recruited is done by being ranked high in the years leading up to your recruitment year.”

Woolbert has been a swimmer since he was eight years old. He committed to Washington University for swimming. He said, “Being comfortable with rejection from coaches when they said they were not interested was the most challenging aspect of my process.”

Earley is a swimmer and has been one for fourteen years. She will be swimming at the University of Delaware, which she began looking at during the summer after her sophomore year. Her friends were informative because they had gone through the process themselves, so their input was valuable. Because of Covid, she was unable to visit schools. She said, “It was difficult to make a decision without seeing and interacting with the team, but [she] was still able to talk to swimmers and meet some of them.”

The college recruitment process was different this year, due to Covid restrictions. However, Hopkins student-athletes will continue to contribute on the field and court and in the pool for an array of colleges in the 2021-2022 school year.
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