The excitement of September 1st has come and gone, and many players are sitting with schools and trying to evaluate each one to find the best fit. There are so many aspects of a college decision to think about like location, cost, school ranking, majors, division, etc. However, my advice to many of my players is all things on a level playing field, the PEOPLE are your best decision maker for college.
People are the ones that make or break your college experience more than anything else. Across the board, you’ll hear student-athletes say the best part about playing college athletics is their team. Not all teams are the same though. Ultimately, your team is who you spend the most time with, and if this is an environment that brings you down instead of up it can drastically change how you perceive your experiences.
How do you get to know what a team is like? What things can you look for?
One big one is during the recruiting process, try to see if you can watch a practice or two. From this, you’ll be able to see how the players interact with each other and how the coaches interact with the players. You’ll get a better feel for coaching styles and the general culture of practices. Another tell of culture is watching games, looking at how the team interacts during good and bad times, along with the coaches.
Another tip is to walk around campus, attend a class, talk to students and professors. The only way to understand a school’s culture and the people in them is through interaction. Every interaction will paint a clearer picture of what the people are like at the school and how you’ll fit in.
What I know is that hands down what I remember most from college are the moments with my teammates. Even during the hard times, when I was dead tired, and my teammates literally pulled me through lines or when it was my third time trying to pass the run test and they’d wake up early or come early to practice to run it with me. When I got extremely overwhelmed with the new academic load, my professors and peers along with my teammates were there to help and support me. I had a place where I felt confident enough to expose my truth when I came out, and instantly felt support from my teammates and coaches alike. I loved being surrounded by people who were constantly chasing to be the best at their sport, academics, and life. Without that culture, without my teammates, my coaches, I wouldn’t be where I am today. As I live with one of my Stanford teammates and pack my bags to head back to the Bay Area with another, I can’t help but feel grateful for these people and the other teammates I had throughout my four years.
As you think about your four years of college, what kind of people do you want to be surrounded by? Answer this and you’ll likely find your best fit!