Official Visits: Athletes’ first view of Dartmouth
By Blaze Joel, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, September 24, 2012
Even though the school year and fall sports have just begun, early decision time is just around the corner, so recruiting season has hit a fever pitch. Schools across the nation are competing for the top recruits in every sport, and Dartmouth is no exception. Prospective student-athletes in the Class of 2017 have been streaming onto campus over the past few weeks to see what life in Hanover could have in store for them.
For many recruits, official visits are the best chance they have to learn about a school and how they will fit into the environment as both a student and an athlete. More than a normal college visit, an official visit, also known as a recruiting trip, offers the prospective student-athlete a chance to meet other students and recruits and experience all a school has to offer, from residence halls to dining facilities to the social life.
In light of recent recruiting scandals across the NCAA, many schools have been taking extra care to make sure they do not violate NCAA rules when trying to woo the best high school athletes in the nation. At the beginning of each school year, athletes must attend a meeting in which recruiting is discussed, according to Kristel Estrella ’15, who is a member of the track and field team. The rules regarding recruiting visits are explicitly laid out at the meeting.
Recruits are forbidden to drink alcohol while on campus or stay in an off-campus house or a fraternity or sorority, and Dartmouth students are not allowed to use the meal card given to recruits for their time on campus.
Despite the stringent rules and regulations that govern recruiting trips, they are usually an overwhelmingly positive experience for recruits. Recruits frequently mention that one of the most positive aspects of their trip to Hanover is the chance to meet their future teammates and see what life is like for them at the College.
“They give the recruit 48 hours to live in the shoes of a Dartmouth student,” Jill Corcoran ’15, a member of the cross country and track and field teams, said. “Our number one priority is to make them love Dartmouth.”
Estrella and Cohle Fowler ’14, who plays for the football team, also stressed the importance of meeting their respective teams and other potential teammates on their trips as factors in their decision to ultimately attend the school.
“It was great because every meal I had was with recruits and teammates,” Estrella said. “And even walking around campus, I felt like my host knew everyone. I really got the impression that this is a small, close campus.”
A recruit’s time in Hanover can be busy. When they arrive, they are given a schedule of events, none of which are mandatory, that have been set up for them, which includes tours, classes and other social events. Many of the trips occur during weekends in the fall, and there is often a football game included in the schedule.
Estrella said she and her teammates went bowling and saw a movie while she was in Hanover, while Corcoran talked about going apple picking with her fellow recruits and teammates. Corcoran also mentioned that one of her favorite moments was running with the team, which was not only a fun experience for her, but also made her feel less nervous about running in college. Both Estrella and Corcoran said that these events helped them get to know their teammates and see what they are like outside of a school and team environment.
“Our job is to be genuine and tell the recruits how much we love Dartmouth,” Corcoran said. “We also want to make sure they’re comfortable because we were in this position two years ago.”
Fowler said that most football recruits come to campus in the winter, and the team does its best to show its recruits that winter in Hanover isn’t all bad, Fowler said.
“We try to show recruits how fun it can be to live in Hanover,” he said. “Last year, we all went sledding on the golf course.”
Another of the most important parts of an official visit is the opportunity to attend a Dartmouth class, typically on a Monday morning.
“Going to classes with my host is what really made me want to come here,” Estrella said.
For Estrella and Corcoran, recruiting trips determined where they wanted to attend school, and their weekend in Hanover sealed the deal for them.
“I already knew that this school was awesome and that if I got in, I wanted to go here, and that was just based off of its reputation,” Estrella said. “When I got home, I knew that this was 100 percent where I wanted to be.”
Corcoran said she had a similar experience.
“I cancelled the rest of my visits after coming to Dartmouth because I got to know the team and the school so well,” she said. “I could really picture myself going here.”
Although Fowler said he was more or less set on Dartmouth before his visit, his time in Hanover confirmed his previous beliefs about the school.
“I got here and it was just beautiful,” he said. “The campus and the surroundings were great, plus the classes were interesting and there was a focus on the outdoors, which I love. A lot of guys on the team toured multiple Ivy League schools and chose Dartmouth because of the great atmosphere and their trip experience.”