It is a big business for universities, and the competition starts with athletic recruitment. Staples’ strong athletics program has produced many athletes who have colleges competing to bring them to their schools.
Over the past decade Staples has had plenty of elite track recruits, including Sean Gallagher, who is running at the Naval Academy, and Henry Wynne, a freshman at Virginia.
Staples’ next running prodigy is girls’ track phenomenon Hannah DeBalsi ’16. She is already the sixth-ranked girl cross country runner, according to milesplit.com, and the second best sophomore.
Between her running dominance and her superb grades, DeBalsi is finding that colleges have already started to take notice. While they can’t yet contact her directly until her junior year, they have already made themselves known.
“Sometimes they’ll write handwritten notes to me or include information trying to make their track programs look successful,” DeBalsi explained. She also sees scouts at state meets, there to watch her run.
Outstanding athletes often benefit academically from the recruiting process. Staples head football Coach Marcellino Petroccio notes the advantages of playing very good high school football.
“We’ve always used the motto that your football will get you into a better school academically.”
Athletes need to be strategic in the recruitment process, coaches agreed. The Staples football website advises players, “Waiting for coaches to contact you is not a good strategy. Instead, you should create a list of colleges that you might be interested in and market yourself to these schools.”
Petroccio, a seasoned veteran in the recruiting process, says, “It’s a little bit of both us reaching out to schools and schools reaching out to us. If a player really wants to go to a certain school, I will contact the coach, and they will watch his film.”
While Division I recruits aren’t the norm at Staples, the school has sent many players to Division III schools. Last year, six players from Staples were recruited to play football, including Nick Kelly for Amherst and James Frusciante for Princeton. This year, Will Johnson ’14 has been the first football player to commit to Trinity.