Who knows what you were you doing in the eighth grade, but these days 14-year-olds are locking in four year college scholarships. Colleges and universities are receiving more dollars for women's sports, but coaches say they don't have enough talent to fill the spaces — so they're literally searching the school yards.
Take 15-year-old soccer player Haley Berg, for example. She had to choose between full rides at University of Colorado, Texas A&M and the University of Texas before she even started high school.
“When I started in seventh grade, I didn’t think they would talk to me that early,” Haley, now 15, said after a tournament late last month in Central Florida, where Texas coaches showed up to watch her juke past defenders, blond ponytail bouncing behind.
“Even the coaches told me, ‘Wow, we’re recruiting an eighth grader,’ ” she said.
Ultimately, this atmosphere is the byproduct of Title IX, a federal law dictating that colleges must spend as much money on women's sports as they do for men's. What does that mean for your average soccer mom? Saturday tournaments really aren't just for fun anymore, it's literally game time for free college degrees. But that very competition worries some parents and coaches; they feel the pressure will drain the fun from the game and cause unnecessary stress before these kids are mature enough to handle it. But if the college coaches don't play ball by recruiting young athletes, they fear the best talent will have already committed elsewhere. What's a girl to do?
Image via bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock.