It’s the dream of every high school athlete.
As they stand before friends, family, teammates and coaches, they prepare themselves to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives.
They are faced with a choice, as hats from all of the colleges and universities that have offered them the chance to be a part of something stand before them.
The chance to play the sport they love while getting an education.
When they reach for the hat and put it on, many know that their hard work has paid off.
But getting to this point is no easy task.
The recruiting process is one unlike any other that a high school athlete will go through. Student athletes get phone calls, letters and even text messages from schools all around the country trying to convince them to come and play for their program.
They promise the athlete everything in the hopes they will decide to wear that jersey for the next four years.
This long and difficult road is still fresh in the minds of Lavoy Allen and Lindsay Kimmel, both freshmen basketball starters.
It took Allen, who is from Pennsbury High School in Fairless Hills, a year and a half before he decided to come to Temple.
Schools first contacted him the summer after his sophomore season. Schools like La Salle, Saint Joseph’s, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Kentucky, and Georgia all showed interest in Allen.
“It was a tough decision,” Allen said. “I finally decided I wanted to stay close to home, but I didn’t know where I wanted to go. But then I chose Temple and I am happy with it. I like the school and I like the city, it’s a great atmosphere.”
Allen chose Temple right before his senior season.
“I didn’t want to stress during the season of still trying to deicide what school to pick,” Allen said, “So I decided to get it out of the way.”
And for Kimmel, a graduate of Harpursville High School in New York, the process was just as tedious. Colleges first showed interest in her when she was just 14 years old.
Kimmel chose Temple in her junior year of high school. The main reason she did was because of coach Dawn Staley.
“I had been comparing everybody to Dawn,” Kimmel said. “I was going back and forth and saying ‘let me look at this school quick’ but its not the same and I knew in the back of my head this is where I wanted to go and I picked it because of coach.”
Both Allen and Kimmel are happy with their choice to come to Temple and are looking forward to the rest of their careers at the university.
While this process is hard on the players, it’s just as hard on the coaches doing the recruiting.
Fran Dunphy and Staley work throughout the year trying to get the best athletes to come and play for the Owls.
Both look at a variety of attributes when it comes to picking players they recruit: athleticism, personality and academics.
“We watch and see kids play and try not to base anything on a one-time look,” Dunphy said. “We watch them two and three and four times before forming any opinions.”
“We look for what stands out,” Staley said. “Once we [are] conversant with them, you see what type of person they are and if they would fit into our program.”
Dunphy and Staley both know how hard it is to sit with a player and their family and try to convince them that Temple is the best choice.
“I think Temple is a phenomenal place,” Dunphy said. “It has great people associated with it and I think it has made wonderful strides in recent years. If you want action, this is a great place to be. If you told me you wanted a pristine and quiet setting, don’t come to Temple then. But if you want a great education and the opportunity to play some terrific basketball and have a great future in front of you, then please join us here at Temple University.”
“We handle it like any other university would. We are in the middle of the city and there are certain precautions you take no matter where you are and no matter where you attend school. If you follow the rules of being safe, I think you will be okay here at Temple,” Staley said.
Dunphy added that the best way for student athletes to handle the pressure is to have good guidance.
“Whether you get that guidance at home or from their high school coaches, they really need someone to support them and help them,” Dunphy said.
Since coming to Temple, Dunphy is recruiting with scholarships, a luxury he did not have when he coached at the University of Pennsylvania for 17 years from 1989 to 2006.
“Scholarships help,” Dunphy said. “But they do not change the way we look at players. We look at winners, regardless of what school we are coaching.”
Despite the fact that this is a grueling and painstaking process, most athletes would love to be able to put a hat on their head and fulfill their dream.
Todd Miller can be reached at email@example.com.