Gifted Players Accept Early Offers to Play College Soccer


Photo submitted by Roy Hutchison

Rachel Henry, Editor-in-Chief

Juniors Julianna Bonner and Jenna Hutchison have committed nearly a year earlier than the average high schooler to play collegiate soccer. As active, talented, starting members of the  girls varsity soccer team since their freshman years, these players represent a growing number of athletes who are accepting offers to college before their senior years.

Early offers to play college sports are becoming increasingly popular according to “ The New York Times,” as colleges scout students as early as middle school.

But the players have a lot to consider before they make their choices.

Jenna Hutchison, starting goalkeeper, is currently committed to George Mason University. “You are not given a lot of room to turn complacent and stop working for it. [The teams]fill up their rosters quick, so you have to get on their radar before you miss your chance with that school.”

Along with the pressure of committing early, earning a spot on their future teams can be difficult.

Verbal commitment doesn’t give them an “automatic in” for the college that they choose. Verbal commitment still requires the player to apply and get into the college, though they may have a better chance of acceptance. This commitment can also be ended on either side of the deal at any time, due to various reasons.

Junior Lily Dunbar was verbally committed to UMBC to play for their team in college, but in November of 2017, the UMBC coaching staff was replaced. The coaches were dismissed, along with her commitment to the team.

“I definitely was not expecting it,” said Dunbar. “The coach had a contract with the school until 2018, but when the team played poorly UMBC bought out the contract and replaced the coaching staff.”

While setbacks with these are possible due to loose contracts, Dunbar plans to “keep her options open” and make her decision from there.

With all of these possible hindrances, finding the perfect college isn’t always the easiest task. For Hutchison, it took a lot of planning and searching.

“I had spreadsheets, I was tracking schools that had my majors, and looking at the highest levels of schools,” she said.

Bonner explains she had a similar course of action to find the best school possible.

“It’s about finding a college that fits with your academics, and fits with your playing skills.,” said Julianna Bonner, starting Striker for the Cats, committed to Lehigh University.

“The process that I took to become committed was slow and thoughtful for the recruiting process,” said Bonner. “I️ took my time, considered the offers I️ had, visited multiple schools, and made it clear that I️ wanted to commit my junior year.”

Though these students are already preparing for college experiences, the girls agree that having experience on a high school varsity team has helped them develop the skills needed for college level.

“I think being a starter since freshman year really helps me and relates tremendously to the college aspect,” said Bonner. “You get that team camaraderie, and the sense of playing with seniors who have experience. ”

In the end, a lot of work goes into choosing the “best” school. For Dunbar, who is still looking at offers and colleges, “It’s about not freaking out, talking to coaches and family, considering your options, and trusting that you’ll eventually end up in the spot that’s right for you.”