What It’s Like to be a College Walk-On

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By Marc Guerette

One of the hardest achievements to face for athletes when entering the college process is the competitive fight of getting recruited. Some students decide to start the recruiting process in high school, while others take a different approach and try-out as a walk on. I spoke with a Student Athlete about his experience as trying out as a walk-on, and learn more about why he decided to take this approach with regards to playing on a collegiate level sports team.

Many people who played sports in high school and are looking to become a collegiate athlete were among the top players on their high school team. Once they start looking to play in college, however, they realize they are up against many other athletes who were also considered the best on their team. All of a sudden, these students are back at the bottom of the totem pole since they are no longer the best. Instead, they are in competition with athletes who were also the top players of their high school teams and seem average. The stress of making a team is immensely higher for those athletes looking to walk onto a team versus those who are recruited by coaches. I spoke with Bryant University’s Christian Schulz, a first year student, about his experience with trying out as a walk-on.

Schulz, explains his decision to tryout as a walk-on for a Division 1 team instead of taking a guaranteed offer to play for a Division 3 team. He says, “Most athletes would want to shoot for the best, and playing D3 just wasn’t it. I wanted to try out as a walk on for Bryant’s team because playing Division 1 was always a dream of mine and something I have always strived for as an athlete.” He also explained to us that it was not only athletics that played into his decision, but academics as well. He tells us, “I could have had a guaranteed spot on a team of a lower division, but I was also looking at Bryant for its academics as well. I wanted to play at a school where I knew I would get a valuable degree, and those other schools were just not what I was looking for, so I decided to work hard and try out as a walk on at a school where I knew I would also get a good education.” He tells us that he does not regret his decision, and that no athlete should, as they should always strive for the best.

The decision to try out for a team in a more competitive division versus settling for an offer to play on a lower division team is a tough one to make. Athletes have to decide whether they want to stay inside their comfort zone, and complete in a lower level division, or take a risk, and try to play in a higher level division. Those that do take the risk and make the team are rewarded with the satisfaction of playing for a team they are passionate about, and knowing that all their hard work has paid off.

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