Team comradery is a major influence on any athlete’s experience. If you’ve ever played team sports before, then you know this to be true. In fact, for a large portion of athletes, the appeal of playing alongside their friends was the reason they started playing sports as a kid in the first place. The thrill of winning is intensified when done alongside teammates you care about.
The High School Experience Prepares Athletes to be Recruited
Comradery is a consistently appreciated factor throughout most athletes’ lives, and a typical breeding ground for this appreciation is found within the confines of the high school sports dynamic. In high school, athletes are typically playing alongside kids that they grew up with, kids they have known for years, or, at the least, kids that they’re in class with every day. These relationships often translate onto the field in the form of chemistry, hustle or passion.
High school athletes compete in front of their friends, family and college recruiters, and the environment this creates ensures the high school athletic experience is rarely rivaled. Many recruits look back on their time spent in high school fondly, and no matter where your athletic career takes you, your experiences shape you as both an athlete and a person.
The Recruiting Experience Shows Athletes the Difference between High School and College
The NCAA is simply a separate entity. Typically, freshmen arrive on campus with a sense of loyalty to their high schools, but a desire to establish a new sense of belonging. Though they never forget the high school glory days, the comradery that the NCAA instills is simply different. It may be better than high school, it may be worse, but it won’t be the same.
The very act of going through the recruiting process, of being identified as one of the top players in a program, going to a new school, and being re-exposed to new levels of talent ultimately ensures rapid growth from a high school recruit. The fact is that transitioning between high school and college is an adjustment, personally, academically, and athletically. The process of recruiting automatically creates a sense of unification between those who go through it together and ultimately select the same college.
The degree to which the recruiting process opens a recruits eyes can depend heavily on where the athlete went to high school, what sport they play, who they meet in college, what college they go to, and the level of talent in their individual recruiting class. However, the dynamic that an athlete experiences in college simply won’t be the same as that from high school. While This ultimately ensures player growth and personal development, it also solidifies a level of chemistry that is overwhelming between teammates.
College Recruiting Classes become Families
In high school, you go home at the end of the day, in college you go back to your dorm. In highschool, you have your parents and family, in college your teammates become your family. You may or may not have class with them, but you have the same schedule, and undoubtedly will spend a majority of your time with them. Give it about two years, and you will know everyone inside and out. You will know their families, their middle name, their fears, their goals, their fitness. Give it four years and you’ll know them about as well as you know your own family.
This isn’t to say that you’ll be best friends with all of your teammates. In fact, you probably won’t. But you will find pockets of people you feel you have known forever, and these people will undoubtedly become life long connections.
This often translates into the athletic experience. In high school, we established that the dynamic of playing in front of friends and family in your hometown is unique. However in college, you end up playing alongside people you live with, people you spend every day with, and when you’re far from home, this nurtures an entirely different sense of comradery. This experience can be compared to playing alongside your own family.
Depending on what school you play for, the crowd may or may not be an influence on the overall intensity of the gameplay. Some schools have a large, loud fan base, and this can add to the sense of belonging and comradery that a student athlete experiences both on the field and in the classroom. In addition, larger schools will often have larger, more competitive rosters, so there’s no guarantee that you will be competing alongside your friends, as roster turnover can be higher. Regardless of fan base and school size, the core level of dependency and chemistry that is created after recruits live, learn, and compete alongside one another for four years is unparalleled.