The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Senior athletes commit to play for colleges

For many recruited athletes, the toughest challenge is not on the field or the court, but outside of their chosen sport – in the rigorous recruitment process itself. In this environment of coaches, high expectations and evaluations, athletes can be presented with the opportunity to rise to the top, but few ever reach the pinnacle in this path fraught with obstacles. Seniors Sophia Hyver, Kelsey Kawaguchi and Alex Liua are three such athletes who have overcome said obstacles and already verbally committed to colleges for sports.

Sophia Hyver

Almost a year after formally beginning her recruitment process, senior Sophia Hyver committed to play Division II soccer next year at University of California at San Diego (UCSD). Sophia spent a week of her summer at UCSD participating in a camp held by the coaches.

“I decided to commit the day I got recruited because that was my number one school,” Sophia said. “It has exactly what I want to go into which is medicine and the coach is someone who I know I’d be able to get along with for four years.”

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Sophia also noted that her decision was influenced by her desire to have a less stressful senior year by deciding her school early on, as well as the knowledge that a close friend of hers, Audrey Mays ‘13, will be at the same school.

Sophia ultimately decided to focus on UCSD while competing in a college showcase tournament there. Both Assistant Coach Kristy Jones, and Head Coach Brian McManus expressed interest in her and requested that they be notified of Sophia’s future games. Towards the end of the week, Sophia played on the all-star team that consisted of 20 of the 230 girls at the camp.

“I played all but 10 minutes, which was surprising because it’s supposed to be for fun but they had specific players play a lot more than others,” Sophia said.

McManus endearingly referred to Sophia as Dr. Hyver and asked her how she was enjoying the school.

“I told him it was my number one school and then [Jones] high fived me, hugged me and then said, ‘Now I can sleep tonight,’” Sophia said. “They’re still sending papers, but I just sign them, send them back and I’m done.”

Other schools that talked to Sophia were University of California at Berkeley (UCB), University of Southern California (USC), Sonoma State University and California State University, East Bay but Sophia veered away from UCB and USC due to the intensity of playing on a Division I team.

Kelsey Kawaguchi

Senior Kelsey Kawaguchi is going to represent Los Altos High School next year at UC Irvine after committing for women’s golf. Kelsey was recruited this past summer and made the decision in late August, but the process itself started more than two years prior. In addition to communication with the Irvine coach, Kelsey made an unofficial visit in early August and played in several tournaments under the coach’s watchful eye.

“The coach emailed me and asked to see a video of my swing and a list of tournaments I was playing in,” Kelsey said. “She came out to watch me at the U.S. Women’s Am Qualifier…It was enjoyable getting to have college coaches come and watch me at tournaments, but it was also stressful at the same time.”

The women’s golf program at UC Irvine is Division I, which as an athlete requires an entirely different level of dedication. For Kelsey, such a commitment is second nature—currently she travels for weekend tournaments throughout the year. Nonetheless, Division I sports demand an entirely new mindset and work ethic, something which Kelsey has already prepared for.

“College golf will require 20-30 hours of practice each week and traveling to tournaments will take a heavy toll in terms of missing school,” Kelsey said. “I plan on being more structured and disciplined in my schoolwork and golf practice as I anticipate that [golf] will be a lot tougher to balance.”

Despite adding what equates to another job on top of her schoolwork, Kelsey is enthusiastic about the opportunity to golf at the collegiate level, and at a school which she loves. She will visit officially in October.

“[Irvine] has everything I am looking for…” Kelsey said. “My favorite part about golf is being able to meet new people and just being in my own zone out on the course.”

Alex Liua

As a junior last year, Senior Alex Liu verbally committed to playing NCAA Division I soccer at Stanford University. The process was a relatively drawn-out affair, with around six months elapsing between Alex’s initial communications with Stanford and his final commitment.

For Alex, this process began with initial interest on the part of the coaches and eventually culminated with verbal commitment mid-way through his junior year. Between these two endpoints however, was a slew of correspondence between Alex and Stanford’s coaches, as well as their evaluation of his abilities as a player.

“Once they contact you, it is important to build a relationship with the coaches,” Alex said. “Then they will usually request your game schedule so they can see you play multiple times, until they have reached a consensus on your worth as a player.”

Alex began soccer early on, playing on club and school teams throughout his elementary and middle school years. As a freshman at Los Altos, Alex secured a varsity position, but did not play during the years that followed, deciding to dedicate himself towards club teams, including Santa Clara Sporting and his current team, the San Jose Earthquakes Academy, a development team on which he plays as a forward.

With a spot on Stanford’s team, Alex is looking to make an impression from early on and contribute towards the team’s existing success, while continuing to develop as a player.

“The tradition at Stanford is unique and something that I am excited to be a part of,” Alex said. “Stanford is a team that can compete at the highest of levels. I’m fortunate to be a part of it.”


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