After campus visits, phone calls and over 200 letters sent to her house from other schools, Career senior Tanaya Atkinson said Temple just felt right after one official visit.
However, finding the right college wasn’t that easy. According to some of the area’s best players, including Atkinson, Foran senior Teneya McLaughlin and Cheshire senior Missy Bailey, the entire process can be overwhelming.
This season, 14 players across the state have signed to Division I or II schools. The 2012-13 Register Area MVP will land with the Owls, but Atkinson said getting recruited can become a chore unto itself.
“You’ve got to do homework, you’ve got to get back to the calls that you missed, you’ve got to write back to coaches, visit coaches,” the Career guard/forward said. “You’ve got to stay on your business.”
Foran’s McLaughlin, who will play at Assumption, figured that out early, too. Although she was not recruited by Division I schools, she was looking locally at the University of New Haven and Post University. McLaughlin, who was named to the Register’s All-Area team and the All-Southern Connecticut Conference Hammonasset Division Team last season, said following up on those phone calls was a daunting task.
“Just about every day I talked to a coach for two hours, at least,” she said about her junior season.
And McLaughlin said the visits can be nerve-wracking. However, the topic of discussion with coaches is usually a familiar one.
“It was really stressful because you don’t want to say anything wrong when you go,” she said. “It was easy because we were just talking about basketball and I’ve been playing basketball forever.”
McLaughlin eventually settled on Assumption, which offered her a four-year scholarship.
Atkinson, who averaged 20.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season, was a Division I prospect from the onset. McLaughlin didn’t get recruited heavily until her junior season, and knew Division II or III would be her destination. However, for Bailey, who settled on Franklin Pierce, the choice was not as clear.
“It was stressful at first because schools weren’t really talking to me,” she said. “I was getting nervous. I didn’t know what to do.”
Bailey, also a Register All-Area pick, said she chose Franklin Pierce because they offered a scholarship on the spot. Cheshire coach Sarah Mik said Bailey could’ve held out for potential looks from Division I schools, but this is what’s best for her point guard.
“(Bailey) wants to play,” the coach said. “There could’ve been some D-I schools out there, but I think she wants to come in there and make an impact as a freshman.”
Career coach Steve Bethke said helping to alleviate the stress of picking a school, like Mik did, is all part of a coach’s job.
“I have never tried to tell (a player) to go to (a certain school),” he said. “What I try to do is open doors and say these are schools they should probably look at.”
And Foran coach Scott Nails said life after basketball plays a major part in him helping his players pick a college.
He said far too often players pick schools without even knowing if the college has the subject they want to major in.
“You want to go to the school where the degree is going to carry the most weight,” Nails said. “One day you’re going to have to put the ball down.”
But for now, Atkinson, McLaughlin and Bailey are eager to pick the ball up and play at the next level.