Academia has proven to be a contributing factor in the recruiting process for some student-athletes at Dixie State University.
For some college athletes, going professional in their chosen sport is a possibility, but for most, their careers come to a close upon graduation. With this understanding, DSU student-athletes enter their collegiate life knowing their destiny lies outside the perimeter markings of their individual sports. Offered degrees and future occupations then become the “X” for which they search.
“Academics has always been the biggest factor for me,” said swimmer Kayla Greer, a freshman integrated studies major from St. George. “I know I am not going to swim forever.”
Yet, playing a collegiate sport becomes a vessel for many to be able to make it to college and for some, it helps contribute to the overall cost of attendance. But, we can’t forget sports are played out of a love for the game.
The recruiting process begins well-before one sets foot on any campuses. By the time any player becomes eligible for official recruitment, coaches have already gathered stats and film. Student-athletes’ cellphones then become bombarded with the persuasive verbiage of college-coaching staffs.
As athletes become more desirable, universities then host the athletes as an attempt to woo them into a commitment, said Megan Spencer, a senior exercise science major from Springville and former DSU soccer player. She said this was her experience when she visited Idaho State University, Utah Valley University and DSU.
“They had [me] stay with the freshman,” Spencer said about her trip to ISU. “The freshman girls took [me] out, and we went disco skating and dumb fun stuff. [I] actually went to the end of the year banquet dinner. [I] went to breakfast with the coach, and that is where she told [me] the perks of coming there.”
Yet, no matter the pitches made, the student-athletes then have to decide for themselves where they want to go and what schools meet their individual needs.
Austin Montgomery, a sophomore double major in biology and software development from Gainesville, Georgia, said for him it came down to a few key factors. He wanted to be in a place where the weather reminded him of home. He said he wanted to join a team that had good chemistry with players and coaches. He then said he wanted to be in a university that would provide him with the academic rigors to get him into medical school.
“The only thing I had heard about [DSU growing up] was that it was a party school,” Montgomery said.
But after a year of playing at the University of Utah, Montgomery began looking again. With the thoughts of finding a wife, getting a good education, and wanting to stay in state, he said he considered coming to DSU.
“The one thing I was concerned about was academics,” Montgomery said. “[DSU] doesn’t have the best academic reputation, [but] I don’t think that is actually deserved. I think it is a lot better than most people think. [The university] put me in contact with the teachers that I would have and those teachers showed me a path to medical school.”
Montgomery, Greer and Spencer each emphasized the importance of putting oneself out there and getting to know the coaches, even prior to attending the school. Greer said she wanted no curveballs. She wanted to have coaches who were honest, supportive and upfront.
Spencer agreed with Greer by emphasizing the importance to start young and be in constant contact with coaches. She wanted to get the most out of her time at university.
“For me, I never wanted to go pro or anything,” Spencer said. “I just wanted to get into college and to play soccer and play as much as I could.”