Most of us have seen High School Musical. We’ve witnessed Troy Bolton putting in hours and hours of work, prioritizing basketball over everything else in his life and doing anything he can in order to obtain that college athletic scholarship his parents have dreamed of him getting. Now, his journey is a bit less realistic than today’s process, but the goal is still the same.
Clara Miller and Delaney Griffin, both Franklin High School alumnae of the class of 2019, are freshmen in college this year and also happen to be college athletes. This fall, Miller is attending the University of Redlands in Redlands, CA and Griffin is attending Seattle University in Seattle, WA. While both are currently very happy and are enjoying college thus far, reaching their goal of becoming college athletes and obtaining that happiness was a long and complicated road.
Delaney Griffin realized she could become a college athlete during her freshman year of high school. She had heard from others that being an athlete at a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division one school was a stressful and intense experience and so for most of her high school athletic career, she was looking and leaning more towards NCAA division three schools where she could still be an athlete, just with less pressure. Throughout her high school running career of both track and cross country, she experienced much encouragement from her dad, who was a runner at California Lutheran University, as well as her brother, Connor, who currently runs for Cal. Lutheran University. Additionally, she experienced a push from her coach, Jacob Michaels, who helped Griffin talk to college coaches. Griffin knew what she wanted and made sure that her desires were considered when talking to certain schools. When it came to looking at Seattle U, it was pretty late in the game when it comes to the recruitment process. “The process for cross country and track recruitment is different and more simple than other sports,” says Griffin. “They can just go online and look at your times and if they like them, then they may offer you a visit [at the school] or reach out to you.”
Clara Miller’s journey was significantly different from that of Griffin’s in her initial interest as well as her process to reach the decision to be a college athlete. Miller began with an end goal of playing soccer on the collegiate level and went on multiple tours with her club team to colleges where her club coaches would help the young players learn how to converse with college coaches and become players that colleges would want to recruit. She started this process by talking with one of her club coaches and asking if he could help her reach out to schools for soccer. But he told her that the schools she was looking at wouldn’t want her, so she became more motivated to become better and began training harder during the cross country and track seasons, getting better times but also enjoying running. After narrowing down her original list of colleges to her top schools, she reached out to the University of Redlands about playing soccer for them. Unfortunately, the coach informed her that they did not have any available spots, which was upsetting. A day after she received the sad news about soccer, the Redlands cross country coaches reached out to her, asking if she’d be interested in running. “Yes! I’m excited,” said Miller. “It actually sounds a lot better than soccer.” And just like that, she unofficially walked on to the University of Redlands’ cross country team and was committed. After signing with Redlands, Miller experienced some judgment from people around her when it came to her decision to run instead of play soccer, but she has overcome that and is now really enjoying herself and is happy at Redlands.
Now, to answer the question, what does it take to become a college athlete? Both Miller and Griffin believe it takes dedication and the desire to fulfill the goal. Griffin suggests reaching out to coaches early and updating them on your progress throughout high school. Miller recommends looking for a connection with the school, team or location as that will lead to happiness. Everyone’s journey of becoming a college athlete will look different, which was especially true for Delaney Griffin and Clara Miller, but by learning from their experiences and putting yourself out there, you too could make this your reality.