Universities in recruiting war for a 13-year-old

How young is too young when it comes to recruiting future college sports players?

In Wisconsin, Saige Damrow, from Howard’s Grove, has been recruited to play volleyball for the University of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

She’s 13. The recruiters started in on her when she was in the seventh grade.

Illinois and the University of Minnesota were in the fight for her college services, which UW joined late the paper says.

“I don’t know how you can say it, but they were almost late to a seventh grader,” said Brett Damrow, Saige’s father and coach with the FC Elite volleyball club and her future coach at Howards Grove High School. “It was amazing the top 20 coaches that were sitting there watching her.”

Saige had apparently been waiting for Wisconsin to show up at her volleyball games. When it did, the fight was over.

“It’s definitely been a dream school since I was little,” said Saige Damrow, who counts Kelli Bates among her favorite Badgers and role models. “I kind of just always knew if I was going to go somewhere and I really wanted an offer it was going to be from Wisconsin.

I just knew it was the school for me, being in my home state and I really want to make Wisconsin people proud.”

This is the sort of thing, though, that the NCAA is trying to end. It’s considering legislation to ban college recruiting until a player is in their junior year in high school.

The coaches can’t stop themselves.

The coach of Wisconsin declared he wouldn’t recruit a seventh-grader. Then he talked to Saige, whose sister played for Minnesota State.

“He said, ‘She was so mature and I wanted her to know that we truly care about her and we wanted her. It’s unfortunate that we had to do it that young, but if we didn’t she might think we don’t value her,’” her dad told the paper.

Is a 13-year-old capable to making a college choice?

“At first it was kind of crazy,” said Damrow, now 13. “I didn’t understand what it meant. I was extremely excited but at the same time I really didn’t know what was going on. Like, I still really don’t have the full grasp of what it’s going to do for me in my future and how amazing it is. To have these big schools looking at me is just an awesome experience.

“But I think that being able to talk to coaches early is kind of important because if you can’t do it till later you really don’t know what you want because you don’t know if you’re going to get an offer from these schools.

“You really want to know if you’re good enough for the college you want because you want to know is this school right for me. Do I really want to go there? Can I see myself going there?”