During the last year of high school, many students productively get college applications done with. With COVID still present, it may be hard for students to choose their colleges because of reduced air travel restricting students from seeing the campus. Nonetheless, high school senior and tennis player Addie Eklund is committed to Colgate University and for this article, I asked her to share her story as a tennis athlete and any tips for students who are applying to colleges as an athlete.
Addie Eklund started tennis as a recreational hobby and she continued because it was fun and kept her healthy while occupying her time in a productive way. She said, “I have learned so much from playing tennis and it has built my character into who I am now.” As of her senior year, she is a member of the tennis varsity team where she won state for two years (2018 and 2019) and individually placed third at state for both years also.
As Eklund is in her senior year, she is applying for Colgate University but the process of it seems to be more difficult during COVID. She said that the usual process of college recruitment with sports was by reaching out to your coaches during the summer of your junior year by discussing what you look forward to for the school and the team. By setting up phone calls, the coaches might travel to watch you play and maybe offer you a visit to their school. However, because of COVID, she said, “I did not get the chance to meet many coaches in person and they never got the chance to see me play. The coaches had to judge their recruits based off of paper stats and I had to do a lot of research about the school, the team, and the tennis program on my own instead of being able to visit.” Even though traveling was reduced, the use of Zoom calls has helped her questions answered by coaches and the team and allowed her to get the feeling of team culture.
Deciding on what college to attend can be tough, so I asked Eklund what were her priorities for choosing a college. She responded: “I really wanted a school that fit me academically and athletically.” She wanted a college that challenged her in the classroom and on the tennis court but also wanted to find a balance in order not to be overwhelmed. One of her priorities was that she hoped to go out of state especially in New York as it was a very cool and exciting state. With this in mind, she committed to Colgate University not only because the tennis coach wanted her and would be valued as a member of the team but fell in love with the campus when she visited: “This was a school that checked all the boxes for me including location, academic rigor, culture, and tennis program, which is why I knew I would be happier there.”
With so many aspiring college athletes getting started with applications, Eklund shares her advice for encouragement. Some athletes may think applications and communication would not take as much time or would procrastinate with a few days left, but Eklund emphasizes to “start the recruiting process as soon as you can.” As an athlete, contacting with college’s coaches is a must in order to build connections. Eklund advises student athletes to “never burn bridges” because as a personal story she said, “I was frequently in touch with a coach at a school I knew I would never go to and then she became the coach at Colgate where she eventually recruited me.” She encourages student athletes to pursue their sport in college because “it adds so much to a college experience including friends, creating a healthy lifestyle, and having fun.”
While completing applications is a priority, athletes also need to find ways to maintain their skills for their sport and be ready for possible sports seasons. Because Eklund wasn’t allowed to train with her team and coaches, she practiced tennis with her dad and sister to improve. Luckily during the summer, she was able to train with her teammates while social distancing, which made her tennis schedule feel more normal. Also to keep herself fit, she does home exercises such as lifting weights and doing squats and sometimes goes out on runs on the 520 bridge! Eklund appreciates and enjoys her time training and competing during her tennis seasons and when COVID canceled tennis season, she said: “Not being able to train together has made me realize how big of a part they were in my life.”
By having a deep compassion and love for tennis keeps Eklund motivated to continue to practice tennis and strive to be a valued player on the team. With many future events that are not set, I asked her if she thinks life will ever go back to normal after this pandemic. She responded: “Yes I feel like my life will go back to normal where I do everything I used to do but now I changed where I have a new appreciation for every moment and a new motivation because of that.”