University of Oklahoma sophomore volleyball player Suzy Boulavsky, #2 in white, and Texas Tech sophomore volleyball player Karlyn Meyers, #3 in black, ready themselves for the next point in their match October 3, 2009.
The worlds of students and student-athletes sometimes seem to be on opposite sides of the galaxy from each other. However, both have the title of student and it is this term that brings these worlds a little closer together.
A big way in which college athletes and regular students can relate is their search for a college that they want to be at. No matter what the sport, athletes still want to be at a school that they enjoy going to.
“Whenever I decided to come to OU, it was more of a decision based on the school,” said Suzy Boulavsky, sophomore volleyball player at the University of Oklahoma. “I committed when I was a sophomore so I didn't really have an idea of what necessarily to look for but it was just whenever I came to the campus, I felt like it was where I needed to be.”
The traditional way of looking for schools involves applications, campus visits and information on scholarships. The search for a college athlete includes all this, but with many more visits and lots of regulations on the contact between coaches and recruits.
“The first step was to send in videos and a resume to each school, and then I talked to the coaches and went on visits,” said Karlyn Meyers, sophomore volleyball player at Texas Tech University. “Then I talked with my parents and looked at the pros and cons for each school.”
“There are all these stipulations like they can only call you once and then once you sign you can call them whenever,” Boulavsky said. “A lot of times they send out questionnaires about you to find out more about you.”
The biggest part of the search for an athlete is the visit to the school, just like it normally is for the average student. Athletes have to travel all over to visit the schools that they are being recruited by. Meyers and Boulavsky were recruited by schools across the country including Baylor, Texas Tech, Nebraska, Tennessee (Meyers), Northwestern, Miami, Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma (Boulavsky).
“Basically if you have an interest or they have an interest in you, you call them and they will come and watch you more and then you'll set up a visit,” Boulavsky said. “Sometimes they will point blank offer, sometimes they won't. I got lucky because I was offered on the spot.”
Some college athletes, like Meyers, have grown up with the dream of playing their sport at the collegiate level and beyond.
“I don’t think it was ever a decision I made; I just knew that was always what I was going to do,” Meyers said. “Since my mom played in college and I always excelled it was an easy decision. I couldn’t imagine NOT playing at this point.”
Others like Boulavsky discovered they had the ability to play at a higher level the more they played competitively.
I probably decided at the end of my freshman year,” Boulavsky said. “I never really was the type of person that looked far into the future growing up. I guess hearing, ‘Wow Suzy you're pretty good, you have this type of swing, the things a lot of coaches are looking for and you should look into it,’ made me want to pursue it. When people started telling me, ‘Suzy you can really do this,’ I was just like, ‘I'm going to.’"
In spite of the general similarities between students and student-athletes, Meyers and Boulavsky agree that the majority of people have the misconception that athletes have it easy in college.
“I just wish that people would understand that it's a job,” Boulavsky said. “It's not fun. What we do isn't fun anymore. It's what is paying us through college.”
“It is hard being a student-athlete because we have to juggle school, volleyball, and then if you find time, a social life,” Meyers said.