How to Increase Your Chances of Gaining Acceptance to College as an Athlete
(So you can participate in D1 or other level sports) by Julia Parzecki
- Be respectful towards coaches, referees, and other fencers
- Express your emotions in an appropriate way
– Eg. Don’t throw your equipment or curse if you lose a bout
- Stay out of trouble in the athletic community
– Eg. Don’t get involved with the police; don’t sleep with everyone
- Introduce yourself to college coaches and say hello whenever you see them
– Know information about the school
– Know about the academic opportunities
– Know about the school traditions
– Be prepared for interviews; know what questions you’re going to ask (the more questions you have, the better)
– Bring a notebook to take notes
- Try your best at every tournament; try to get good results
– Don’t be discouraged if you don’t do well – just move on and try again
- Keep your parents under control: they should keep their emotions contained and be kind to everyone
- Keep your academics and athletics balanced; don’t let one take over the other
- Push yourself when you train, but not to the point of injury
- Be serious when you train so you are taken seriously by others
- Because fencing will already be on your application, try to think of a different topic to write your essay about
– Ex: a life changing moment, a family tradition (what is it, how did it start, and why is it important), a time in your life where you had to make a difficult decision, your nationality, etc…
As a student-athlete for nine years, I’ve always supported my teammates on and off the strip. Now that I am moving on to my dream school, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, many younger fencers often ask, “How did you do it?” or “What did you ask the college coaches?” or how I managed to meet my goal in such a competitive arena. The process is much more complex than just sending in an application and waiting for a response. Your high school guidance counselor and college counselor may be helpful in the process, however, in the end, you are the only one that can get yourself into college.
If you wish to be a part of the fencing team in college, you must keep in mind that college coaches are looking at more than just your academics and fencing results. Although both are vital in getting accepted, your attitude and reputation must be up to par. Remember to always be respectful towards coaches, referees, and other fencers. It can be very easy to get angry with a referee that is continuously making the wrong calls, but keep your cool. If you disagree with your referee’s call, simply ask for an explanation and tell him/her why you believe it was your touch*. If the referee continues to make incorrect calls after this, your coach will handle it. Fencing can be a very emotional sport but express your emotions in an appropriate way. If you lose a bout and are angry/upset, do not curse loudly and do not throw your equipment on the ground. It’s bad for the equipment, it may harm others, and it may even get you a red or black card. Social life outside of the convention center can be very lively and fun, but stay out of trouble; do not do anything that could get the cops involved and do not sleep around with other fencers because a myriad of people will find out within the next few days.
When junior year rolls around, begin to introduce yourself to college coaches and say hello to them whenever you cross paths. If you are too nervous to speak to them face to face, send them an email explaining who you are, why you are interested in their school, and ask how you can get on their radar.
The summer before your senior year is when interviews between fencers and college coaches begin. To prepare for the interviews, make sure you familiarize yourself with the school, the academic opportunities, traditions, and know what questions you are going to ask. The more questions you ask, the more interested you will seem. After meeting with several college coaches, you may forget some important information that the coaches told you or the information may get mixed up, so bring a notebook to take notes if you’d like. When speaking to a college coach, remember to maintain eye contact and have good posture; you want to be taken seriously. During an interview, try to throw in a few jokes (when the timing is appropriate) to show the coach that you are a lighthearted person and to make the conversation stand out from others that the coach has had.
Be sure to try your best at every tournament that you participate in. The better your results, the more points you will get; this may help you in future tournaments. However, don’t be discouraged if you don’t perform as well as you’d hoped for. Simply move on and try again. Be mindful to exercise good sportsmanship and treat your opponents and referees with respect. Your actions on the strip become your reputation off the strip. Although maintaining your own reputation is important, so is your parents’ if they attend competitions, such as North American Cups, with you. If your parents are emotionally invested in the sport, remind them to keep calm, not lash out at coaches or referees, and be kind. If a parent has a bad reputation, college coaches may not be as eager to speak with you or potentially help you with the admissions process.
If you want to improve your fencing and prepare yourself for the college level, push yourself at practice, but not to the point of injury. Fence those who you may not usually fence or may be too scared to fence. If you wish to be taken seriously as an athlete, ask your coach for help and don’t slack off at practice. Doing conditioning and stretching on your own outside of practice will help improve your stamina and prevent you from getting injured.
If you wish to fence at a D1 school, keep your academics and athletics balanced. Being a student-athlete is hard work. It requires dedication and sacrifice. You may not get to sleep as much as you’d like or go out with friends that often, but it’s all worth it in the end. Being a college student-athlete has many perks. You receive free athletic clothing and equipment, free tickets to your school’s sporting events (this depends on which school you attend), and you have a team that becomes like family.
*explain to the referee why you believe the point was yours
Julia is a first year student athlete at UNC Chapel Hill