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Grounding Goals With Realism: What is College Really About?

By: Misty Boucher

I am a single mother to three daughters, two of which are college bound in the next two years. My middle daughter, who plays lacrosse and field hockey for her high school, just completed her sophomore year. I recently found myself spending endless hours at various sporting showcases. Some of these showcases my daughter was selected for based on her talent and others were “pay to play” events. They usually entail some promise of exposure and possible college recruitment opportunities. Most of these events require a substantial amount of money as many of them require travel. Our most recent event was disappointing for various reasons and left me wondering, “What was this all for?” “What is the end goal?” “Do I want our focus to be on recruitment, as opposed to searching for a school that supports her very specific major?”

Yes, for the most part, she loves participating and being part of a team with like-minded individuals. But, these “exclusive” tournaments and showcases are also expensive, timely, and require extensive travel. Monies that I surely could be saving towards her future, specifically her education. I realized I needed a healthy dose of reality. It was time to do some independent research.

According to NCSA, the largest college recruiting platform, just over 12 percent of high school lacrosse players go on to play women’s college lacrosse and 10 percent of high school field hockey players go on to play women’s college field hockey (NCAA, 2020). The likelihood of her playing in college is slim and finding a college that offers her major and affords her the opportunity to play college-level sports is even slimmer.

This same daughter is also her class president of the student council, maintains a 3.88 GPA, is enrolled in several AP classes, and has a full social life. She has always played sports, but prior to high school, we didn’t put much stock into her playing college-level sports. I am not sure where I lost sight of the importance in raising a well-rounded daughter versus a star athlete, but it was certainly time to adjust expectations.

Here’s the thing, as parents we certainly don’t want to deter our children from working hard towards their goals. But, we should want them to do so with realistic expectations. Of course, if she was recruited to play sports in college, I would be waiting in the wings with pom pom in hand. I just think we need to be reminded of the end goal, which for her, is to be admitted into a college and pursue a degree that excites her. For our family, playing college-level sports needs to be second to this.

As we wrap up lacrosse season and begin thinking about the summer, I’ve decided we need a break from all the craziness. She is planning to participate in some fun, once-a-week sport stuff, but there will be no “exclusive, elite events.” She will be participating in activities she is normally unable to, due to the constraints and commitment required when part of a sports team. She is going to work part-time, complete driver’s ed and hopefully (fingers crossed) acquire her driver’s license. In my opinion, all the things a young high school kid should be excited for!

Estimated Probability of Competing in College Athletes. (2020, April 8). NCAA. Retrieved June 7, 2023


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