Bulldog for life

Chronicle Staff

He disembarked the plane, rubbing his tired eyes. The morning sun shone brightly and the lack of sleep was catching up to him. But that was insignificant right now. He couldn’t focus on that. Jordan Abergel ’07 had his chance to sell himself, to broadcast to everyone who cared why he was the right guy. The only problem: he was competing with seven other hyper-qualified candidates.

On Sept. 1 of their junior year of high school, athletes are allowed to contact college coaches.

Abergel had visited schools and narrowed down his choices to a select few. His consensus number one was Yale University.

After players show interest, coahes begin to siphon the starry-eyed from the legitimate candidates. They review scores and grades as well as athletic ability. They try to get a feel for the student and how his talent stacks up to the rest of the applicants. The droves of eight to 10 and those are brought to the school for an all-expense paid, official visit. Abergel was one of the 10.

The athletes are brought in two groups, with the more likely candidates brought on the first weekend. One either goes from Thursday-Saturday or Friday-Sunday.

It was Friday of the first weekend, and Abergel strode through the terminal. He slept sporadically during the flight due to the nerves. They were gone now and he became singular in his train of thought. He reached the baggage claim and waited.

“Everyone got their bags,l and I was left there, alone,” Abergel said. “I had lots of stuff to worry about, and that was the last thing I wanted to happen. It really just heightened my nerves because the trip wasn’t starting off as smoothly as I wanted.”

Realizing his bag was lost, Abergel made his way over to where the coach was standing. Another recruit from South Carolina was standing with him. Without his bag and with his competition staring him right in the eyes, Abergel walked out of the Hartford Airport and was whisked off to campus.

Abergel met with the coach and Josh Lederman ’05, with whom he was rooming for the weekend, at a restaurant for lunch. The lunch was just an informal “get-to-know-you” session with the coach, the two recruits and the two players they were staying with.

The team was training in the gym and was set to practice from 3-5 p.m. Abergel visited the locker rooms and sat and watched the team play.

This is a time for the recruits to observe. It is a time when players get to see how the team practices and the style the coach employs.

“It was a little awkward with the other kids there,” Abergel confessed. “But I wasn’t thinking about that. Only two or three kids were getting chosen, and I needed to impress the coach and the other players.”

After practice, the recruits don’t see the coach until the next day. Abergel went back with Lederman to his room to get ready for the night.

“The players want to show the recruits a good time,” Abergel said. “We get to meet tons of people and see what the social life is like. We went to a party called Jammie Jam on Friday night which was like a huge pajama party.”

The recruits continue their fly on the wall experience on Saturday. Abergel was in a better mood because his bags arrived early that morning.

“The players were running on Saturday,” Abergel said. “They had to run a mile under six minutes and four 400 meter runs under a minute and ten seconds a piece. It was kind of fun to watch the players run but it really showed how intense of a commitment this is.”

Later in the day, Abergel went with the team to a fund-raiser at a local country club. The tournament was in a pro-am set up, where each player on the tennis team was paired with a member of the club. During the fundraiser, Abergel got a chance to talk to the coach one on one.

“I pretty much told him this was my first choice and that I wanted to come here,” Abergel said. “It was a time where I could say stuff that I didn’t want to say in front of the other recruits.”

That night the team held a goodnight dinner. The entire team got together with the coach and all the recruits as a culmination to the weekend. seven a.m. Sunday morning, Abergel got in a car bound for the airport.

Three weeks after Abergel’s official visit, he received an email from the coach. The coach told Abergel that he had been one of the three recruits on his list, and he would be honored if he still wanted to attend.

“There is still a chance that I may not be accepted, but no one who has received this letter in the past has been turned down,” Abergel said. “The guy I was with at Yale ended up committing to Harvard, and the three recruits chosen were all from the first weekend. I really got along with the players, and I think that put me over the edge. The whole experience was really awesome.”