By Vern Hee
Kaitlin Klem, senior middle defender for the Trojans girls soccer team, signed her letter of intent to play soccer for Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz. She did this in front of a cheering home crowd at the last home basketball game on Thursday night.
Grand Canyon is giving Klem a full academic and sports scholarship so that she can attend its school of nursing. Klem will be graduating this year with a 4.2 GPA, ranked 23 out of 280 students.
GCU is a small Christian college. Klem will be playing for its team, the Antelopes. The team is ranked ninth in the Western region and they are in the Pacific West Conference.
For Klem, the signing of this letter of intent ends a full year of high stress of searching over 200 colleges. Klem and her mother Teresa are both relieved that is all over.
“I really like the school. It is a smaller private school and I really like the coaches. They were all welcoming and they also had nursing,” said Kaitlin.
Kaitlin’s advice for all high school students is to start early in the search of colleges.
“My mom and I put in a lot of hours. Every day I had to come home and spend hours looking and answering mail from colleges. I had to answer even if I was not planning on going there. It was like a parttime job. I started at the end of my junior year, but I should have started earlier. You should start at your freshman year,” she said.
Kaitlin not only wanted to go to college, but she wanted to keep playing soccer, the sport she loves. This meant added work. She said the main work was choosing the right school. In her mind, the place had to be small, have her major, be Christian and have soccer.
If you want to play at the college level you have to catch the eye of the coaches.
For soccer players and most athletes, to go to a college with your sport means you have to go to their summer camps.
These camps are run by the team and more importantly their coaches. The camp is your chance to meet coaches, dazzle them, and to see their style of play.
Kaitlin said she went to several and this is where she really fell in love with GCU.
While at their camp, she was able to train with the team for five days, and see the campus. It was a time to explore and ask a lot of questions.
“I did get to see the university. They contacted me and told me to go to their camp. So over the summer I went. We had training sessions and tours of the campus. At the camp we had three training sessions a day. We also met with the academic counselors.”
As her senior year on the soccer field came to a close with the Trojans, her scholarship prospects rose with GCU and Kaitlin narrowed her focus from five colleges down to three.
She went back to GCU after Kaitlin had told them they were in the top three of her choices. On her trip, she practiced with the team and received a verbal from the coach of an offer of a scholarship.
The coach could not give her the written scholarship offer until February of this year.
Teresa agrees with her daughter. They should have started looking for colleges at the end of Kaitlin’s freshman year.
“We felt rushed getting all this stuff together,” said Teresa. “We were misinformed. We thought because the coaches could not talk to her until her senior year due to NCAA recruiting rules, we needed to wait and that was not true. I will tell parents now, that after their freshman year, that summer before their sophomore year, they need to pick schools and go to these camps and let these coaches see their kid.”
Teresa recommends going to a college camp more than once. This allows you to talk to the coaches and get to know them better.
“When Kaitlin went to the camp there were some girls there the coaches had already seen and were interested in and some girls were on their third time there.”
Looking back on the whole process, Teresa feels her decision to hire a recruiter to help them took off a lot of pressure.
One of the most important things an athlete can do is to make a video of themselves playing in games. The video allows coaches to be at games they can not physically attend. Getting the video to the coaches though is the hard part. Just because you send a video to a college does not mean it gets to the coaches’ eyes.
This is where the recruiter comes in. They know the college coaches. They get the videos to the coaches. This is what Klem paid $3,000 for. It was not cheap, but in the end she said it pays off. The recruiter she used was Student Athlete Showcase out of Las Vegas.
“This recruiter is someone that I would recommend to others. We go and speak to others about him. The company has a 90 percent success rate if the parents do what they tell you to do. The price depends on what year you hire them. They do not make any promises. If the parent is not going to help the student, then it is a waste of your money.”
Teresa said one of the important things the college recruiter helped them with was communication between the school. They taught her how to communicate to the coaches and what to say.