Hundreds of student-athletes commit to universities before the final college decision date on May 1st. College coaches sometimes begin the recruiting process even before the student enters high school, with the hopes that their top recruits will sign a National Letter of Intent or an athletic aid agreement early in senior year.
Each year RHS has an impressive number of commits, with over 35 commits for the Class of ‘22. This year RHS students have committed to Boston College, Rutgers University, University of Maryland, Colgate University, Syracuse University, Brown University, Princeton University, and many other colleges. The commitment dates differ for each sport but there is one thing that is the same: the positive impact committing to a school has on high school athletes. I sat down with Dan Caiafa, Alysia Spencer, and Jaylin Locke to get their point of view on committing to their colleges.
RHS Varsity Football quarterback and captain, Dan Caiafa, has committed to Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. Wiedner’s NCAA D3 program ended the 2021 season as third in their conference. Dan told me “After visiting Wiedner, I fell in love with the college … the team had very good chemistry…and they looked like a great group”. Proximity to Ridgewood was key for Dan. “I wanted to be close to my family; I think that was a big part because I definitely wanted to see my mom and dad be able to come to my games.” Also key to his choice was coaching. For Dan, “the coaches, specifically the quarterback coach, really wanted me there so it was basically a no-brainer.”
Alysia Spencer, a star sprinter on the RHS Girls Track Team, has committed to the D1 track program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Alysia has family history with UMass, as it is her mother’s alma mater and the university where her father once coached. For Alysia, UMass was a great fit. The number of students on campus and academics of the school were very appealing, not to mention the very positive impression she had of the coaching staff and the chemistry of the track team.
Jaylin Locke, starting midfielder and defender with RHS Girls Lacrosse is committed to the D1 William & Mary Lacrosse Program. Having highly respected academic and athletic programs, William & Mary met all of Jaylin’s expectations of college. “I just liked it for me. It was the perfect fit for me. I had an idea of the ideal college I wanted to go to, and it was a bigger college, but once I toured the campus and met the coaches and got the feel of being on campus it just felt right, a perfect fit.”
Recruiting is a complex process, to put it simply. In addition to visits from the coaching staff, recruits share their achievements and highlight tapes. They also attend practices with the college teams to develop chemistry. After going through this process, Alysia shared that “making the final decision was the hardest part because each school had certain aspects that I really liked.” Jaylin agreed about the difficulty of deciding, sharing that “It was a very tricky process in choosing which one I liked the most. I had to visit many colleges and talk to many coaches. But, I would say the hardest part is continuing to up my game during the recruiting process. There were a couple of times where it was discouraging and I just felt it wasn’t going to go the way I planned.”
All three of our players agreed that the RHS Athletic Department is an important part in their college recruiting success. The quality of the RHS track program was highlighted by Alysia as a key factor in getting the attention of colleges and provides a highly regarded platform to feature the talent of our student-athletes. Dan gave a special shoutout to Coach Johnson and Coach AJ, as true leaders at critical times, who have supported his long-term development and provided game-time inspiration when he really needed to calm down to lead the team. According to Jaylin, RHS Lacrosse has “always taught me to follow what I want and go for my dreams to the highest extent…. to be consistent and aggressive and finish everything I start to the fullest extent.”
So what do these players advise to aspiring younger potential commits? Dan advises underclassmen to “Always keep going, no matter how you are feeling or how tired you are… if you want to play college somewhere stay dedicated to the sport… hard work will get you places you never imagined.” Alysia encourages young athletes to “Get out in front of it… start putting in work early if you really want to play in college because if you wait too long then you’re going to lose the opportunity.” Attitude was the focus for Jaylin, who advised others to “Keep working towards your dream and be consistent … things obviously are going to be hard…just keep upping your game and stay positive.”
RHS congratulates all of our senior athletes who have committed to colleges. The RHS community looks forward to seeing all of you succeed at the next level, especially for sports!
Elisha de Silva