Decisions, Decisions

At this point in the college application process, many seniors are having nightmares about how many essays they have left to write. A student applying to 12 colleges might still be working on her Common Application as well as her ten supplements. She may still be considering applying to one more school just in case. A few members of the class of 2013, however, may be filling out only one application, because they will commit to a specific school for athletics within the month.

The Fourcast spoke with seniors Lexie, Jackie and Mason who are looking forward to college athletics next year. While many other Hockaday seniors are also communicating with college coaches and considering the possibility of college athletics, these three were the most advanced in their processes. Their roads to get here have been very different but all uncertain and difficult, as is the general nature of the college process.

COMMITTED While senior runner Lexie (right) has committed to University of Texas, senior Jackie (left) remains undecided.

Mason on Injury and a New Atmosphere

Tennis, Texas A&M

Mason missed in total around a month of school her sophomore year of high school. After deciding at the beginning of that year to pursue college tennis, she proceeded to travel around the country for tournaments throughout the year, even continuing into the beginning of her junior year.

Then in mid-October one year ago, she tore her ACL, MCL and meniscus playing in a tournament in Wichita Falls.

Even after a year of adversity, Mason has recovered from her injury and returned to the court and to the view of college coaches.

“I was really nervous that no schools would want me or no schools would talk to me because I had been out so long,” Mason said.

Although her coach had been contacting many schools for her before her injury, it grew harder while she was injured. When Mason returned to the court and began taking over her own college process; however, she gained contact with several coaches from various schools, which gave her the option to choose what she wanted. Deciding on the “bigger athletic route,” Mason considered Vanderbilt, Texas A&M University and Texas Christian University.

“I thought I’d have to settle for a lesser tennis school because of my knee,” Mason said, “but the coaches that I’m talking to had all seen me play before and they know how I play and they’ve seen me play recently, so that really hasn’t been an issue.”

Mason said that the team aspect of college tennis will be an exciting change from her previous, mainly individual, training, aside from her time on Hockaday’s Varsity Team and play with her doubles partner.

Though Mason applied to four schools, in the end, she verbally committed to Texas A&M in late October and will sign her National Letter of Intent, a binding agreement between the university and Mason, between Nov 9 and 16.

Though the process has been rigorous, Mason does not regret it.

“I’ve matured a lot through the process,” Mason said.

Jackie on Changing Plans and Official Visits

Cross Country, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track

Jackie always thought she would play soccer in college—until her plans changed during the summer before her sophomore year. When she stepped off the soccer field at the end of an Elite Clubs National League tournament in Oregon, she suddenly decided she would pursue long-distance running in high school and college instead.

“I just really loved it. There is an exciting aspect to the fact that you can just keep getting better, and there’s really no limits in running,” Jackie said.

Her first taste of running came when she joined the cross country team in her eighth grade year at Good Shepherd Episcopal School. After she decided to focus on running, she switched from club soccer to club running by joining the Dallas Metroplex Striders club track team. She also ran for Hockaday.

During November of her junior year, Jackie began emailing college coaches. Three coaches that were interested in Jackie invited her to unofficial visits, and she was able to talk to others on the phone when she called of her own accord. She kept up with them throughout her junior year until they started calling her on July 1 of this year.

“It’s been really exciting because it’s like, ‘wow! They’re really talking to you and they’re really interested,’” Jackie said.

Then during her senior year she began receiving invitations for official visits from many schools and chose to visit Princeton University, Stanford University, the University of Virginia, and Georgetown University.

“I think official [visits] are just so important, in fact I think it should be a rule for every person just going to college,” Jackie said. “They should just spend a night with someone who has similar interests because you really get to see a day in the life of student X at college X.”

Jackie will not decide which school she will attend until mid-November.

Compared with team sports, runners can develop much more quickly in a short period of time in terms of rankings and times, which are the sport’s main indicators of ability.

In reference to the schools she is considering, Jackie said, “we are splitting hairs if we’re talking about academics, because all [four] are going to get me where I want to be academically.”

For Jackie, athletics comes next in importance, especially the program and the environment of the team and the school. Coaches aren’t as important because they can change.

She has narrowed her choices down to Georgetown University and Stanford University.

Lexie on her Late Start

Track and Field, University of Texas, Austin

While many children dream of playing one sport all their lives, Lexie has changed paths many times. Finally, she is on track to run as a college student athlete next year.

“It had been something that I was considering since sophomore year, but junior year track is when I started to hit the times that could be potentially good enough to run in D1,” Lexie said.

Lexie started out her college search with a region of the country (the south) and a type of school in mind, but from there, she said, it was all about “the program, the coach and the girls.”

Lexie looked for a program that wasn’t all about the running but would instead allow her to grow as a person and enjoy other aspects of the college experience. “No student-athlete,” she admits, “can have the same experiences as the average college student. Athletes must sacrifice time and endure other restrictions, often including rules against pledging to sororities and sometimes even required athlete housing.”

Lexie’s next step was contacting coaches.

In the confusing process of college recruitment, she had two main advisors: Laboris Bean, her Hockaday Cross Country and Track and Field coach, and John Turek, her club cross country and track coach.

Lexie narrowed her search to the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Christian University. Each of the coaches invited her to take official visits in October. Finally, after less than a year of intense communication with college coaches, Lexie has committed to the University of Texas, primarily as a steeplechase runner, a specialty that is more difficult for college coaches to fill. The steeplechase consists of five barriers, similar to hurdles except that they don’t fall over when they are hit, set up around the track. Hood will sign for this and possibly other track races in February.

From the beginning, Lexie said, she has wanted to go to the University of Texas for several reasons. First of all, her older sister attended the university. Also, she found out that the program was somewhat unique.  “The coach really stresses that he wants the girls to have as much of a normal life as they can,” Lexie said, “and he really believes that balance in your life is going to make you the best runner.”