Some girls commit to a college before 9th grade

It’s hard to miss a story about eighth-grade girls playing soccer on the front page of the New York Times, here. In a comprehensive story about college soccer recruiting practices for girls, Nathaniel Popper opens up the door to the lives of several eighth-grade girls around the country, some of whom have more than a dozen college recruiters’ numbers programmed into their smartphones.

Although the rules published by the National Collegiate Athletic Association don’t allow college recruiters to call on student athletes until July after their junior year, those rules have more loopholes than the US tax code, it seems. And the NCAA has not expressed any interest in enforcing its own rules or closing the loopholes, mainly because much of the recruiting activity takes place outside official channels as recruiters take advantage of every loophole that suits them.

One loophole, for example, is for recruiters to leave word with club coaches and not talk to the girls in person. Once the club coach delivers the message, which some refuse to do until at least their players’ sophomore year, the girl calls the coach or recruiter herself. The NCAA rules don’t prohibit recruiters from answering the phone, just from making the calls.

Recruiters and college coaches interviewed for the story unanimously thought it was unethical to recruit 13- and 14-year-olds for college soccer teams and that it was bad for the game and for the girls. But every one of them showed up at a big tournament for girls’ soccer players in Sanford, Fla., to check out the commodity of 14-year-olds who can kick a ball around. “It’s detrimental to the whole development of the sport, and to the girls,” Angela Kelly, the women’s soccer coach at the University of Texas, said at the Florida tournament. Why are they there? Because they feel if they don’t do early recruiting, other schools will take all the top talent and they’ll be left with the least sought-after players.

Parents share many of the same sentiments. One Dallas father of a sophomore said he watched girls on other teams get scholarships, because, he said, the coaches on his daughter’s team weren’t doing enough to steer the recruitment process. “Is it a little bit sick? Yeah. You are a little young to do this, but if you don’t, the other kids are going to,” the Times quoted him as saying, explaining why he transferred his daughter to another team that was put in view of college recruiters a little better. And so it is in a world where competition reigns and people pay no attention to what’s best for kids, even their own kids.

One may think this “I don’t want to do it but I have to because everybody else is doing it” attitude is selfish or childish, but even President Barack Obama displayed a side of it in February 2012, when he finally accepted the need for his campaign to accept money from super PACs. “We’re not going to fight this fight with one hand tied behind our back,” Jim Messina, the manager of President Obama’s reelection campaign, said in a February 2012 interview in the Times. “With so much at stake, we can’t allow for two sets of rules. Democrats can’t be unilaterally disarmed,” he said, defending the president’s decision.

One girl, who committed during her high school freshman year to play at the University of Arkansas on a full soccer scholarship, said coaches from several colleges would want to talk to her every week to see how her game was progressing. Even though she reported suffering from little breakdowns during the process, after she accepted Arkansas’s offer, she said she was just relieved. “You are making this big life decision when you are a freshman in high school,” the Times quoted her as saying. “You know what you want in a week, but it’s hard to predict what you’ll want in four years.”

And sometimes, it doesn’t pan out, because as the young athlete said, kids’ interests and abilities change a lot during their high school years.

By the time many of the girls get to college, their coaches find out that even though they were better than every other eighth grader five years earlier, they never matured as a player and can’t play at the college level. In other words, a Title IX scholarship goes to waste on a girl who has to sit on the bench for four years, isn’t happy about her college life as a bench warmer, still has to meet physical presence requirements for the team, and will probably not get much out of her education.

If you are one of these girls or one of the “exceptions” for whom early recruiting did work out, please post your story in a comment to this article or email it to

Emily Granger is female high school Heisman winner

High School Seniors Recognized for Excellence in Athletics, Academics and Community Involvement

Emily Granger (Photo: Brian Schneider)

Emily Granger of Easton, Md., and Andrew Miner of East Greenwich, R.I., on Dec 13 in New York were named national winners of the 20th annual Wendy’s High School Heisman Award, recognizing high school seniors who excel in sports, academics, and community involvement. These students were chosen from more than 48,000 applicants nationwide. The Wendy’s High School Heisman Award, inspired by Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas, celebrates the achievements of exceptional student-athletes and provides a platform for their continued growth and success. Since 1994, more than 450,000 students have been nominated for the award.

“Just like Heisman Trophy winners, Wendy’s High School Heisman winners never settle. They epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance and hard work in everything they do,” said Archie Griffin, the only two-time winner of the Heisman Memorial Trophy to date and a long-time spokesman of Wendy’s High School Heisman. “Congratulations to Emily and Andrew, and all of our 2013 national finalists. Their achievements distinguish them as some of the best scholar-athletes in the nation, and we’re honored to be a part of their success.”

Emily Granger, Saints Peter and Paul High School
Hometown: Easton, Md.

Ms Granger exemplifies a true scholar-athlete at Saints Peter and Paul High School. She has lettered in basketball, lacrosse, and soccer. She was named most valuable player, an All-Conference, All-District, and All-State athlete for lacrosse, and has set three school records while playing on the soccer team. In the classroom, Emily has received awards for exemplary scholastic achievement, team spirit, and outstanding sportsmanship. She is involved in her community through her work with her school’s Key Club.

Ms Granger’s philosophy, according to the High School Heisman website, is “Success is the refusal of failure.” See more information about her on the organization’s website, here.

Ms Granger and Mr Miner will each receive a $10,000 donation to their high school, a crystal Wendy’s High School Heisman trophy and a $500 Wendy’s gift card.

For more information, see the press release, here.

Girls’ soccer champs: Waubonsie Valley, Althoff, Notre Dame

This blog post was created to facilitate search engines. Our official coverage of the girls’ soccer matches is here.

Dateline: NAPERVILLE (North Central College), June 5 …

Class 3A: Waubonsie Valley High School

The Warriors from Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora defeated the Eagles from Carl Sandburg in Orland Park Saturday night, 3-0, to become the 2010 girls’ soccer champions for Class 3A, the school’s third title in four years and their first in Class 3A.

Just before the half, Jessica Price scored for the Warriors off a Vanessa DiBernardo assist. After that, the match was without a goal until Waubonsie Valley’s Hannah Klancik took her only two shots in the game during the final nine minutes, pushing both by goaltender Victoria Kappel to put the game on ice.

The Eagles had five shots on goal during the entire game, none of them getting by goaltender Allison Fox.

Julie Bergstrom’s Warriors advanced only to the regionals last year, with an 18-4 record. But in 2007 and 2008, they went undefeated, taking the state’s 2A championship in both years. She was honored as the National High School Coaching Association’s Coach of the Year for 2009. Ms Bergstrom was also named the Illinois Coach of the Year in 2007 and 2008.

Class 2A: Althoff Catholic High School

The Crusaders from Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville capped a perfect 27-0 season when they defeated the St. Viator Lions from Arlington Heights, 5-3, in the state’s final 2A girls’ soccer game.

The game was tied, 1-1, at halftime, goals having been scored by Althoff’s Megan Pawloski and St. Viator’s Taylor Skala, assisted by Molly McMahon.

But in this afternoon game at North Central College, the first 10 minutes of the second half saw an explosion of scoring: Alexis Jones for Althoff scored first, followed about a minute later by her teammate Kelsey Dingis (assisted by Ms Pawloski). Ms Skala then had a penalty kick opportunity for St. Viator, which she converted, about two minutes after that. Whew.

Scoring was held in abeyance for about 10 minutes. Then Ms Pawloski, who had six shots on goal and two off goal, scored again for Althoff, Ms Dingis returning the favor of the assist. Ms Pawloski went on to score one more unassisted goal at 68:35, making the score 5-2.

Jackie Tumberger then scored for St. Viator with about five minutes remaining in the match, but a comeback was not to be.

Class 1A: Quincy Notre Dame High School

For the first time in the 21-year history of girls’ soccer at Quincy Notre Dame High School, the Lady Raiders became the state champs, defeating the Panthers from Manteno High School, 2-0.

Led by Abby Grawe, Shannon Foley, Jordan Frericks, Brooke Burgess, and Leigh McLaughlin, the Lady Raiders came on strong, bombarding Aryn Newsom, Manteno’s keeper, with 16 shots on goal and nine off goal May 29 at North Central College.

This proved to be too much for Manteno. Quincy Notre Dame’s goals came from Ms Foley, assisted by Alex Reis, in the first half, and from Ms Grawe, assisted by Ms Foley, in the second half.