By Rani B. ’21
November 13, 2019 was just another average day at Winsor for most students. For others, however, this was the day when they, student-athletes, could begin to accept and sign scholarships from Division 1 schools. The Class of 2020 boasted several athletes who committed to both Division 3 and Division 1 schools.
Signing day is the first chance for a student-athlete to sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI). An NLI is “a binding contract between the student-athlete and the institution in which they are agreeing to attend and compete for an athletic program.” Before signing an NLI, “you must also sign an athletic aid agreement, in which the institution pledges to provide an athletic scholarship for one year.” The contract states that “you are required to attend the institution you sign with as a full-time student for one academic year” (USA Today). NLIs are only for Division 1 athletes; however, Division 3 athletes can sign a contract that is a “non-binding standardized celebratory form,” though they are not required to sign a contract once they commit to a school.
In 2019, a few seniors emailed Ms. Granese, the Director of Athletics, asking for Winsor to hold a signing day to celebrate the handful of student-athletes who committed to play collegiate athletics. I spoke to Ms. Granese and she said that she “[explained] the reasons why we would not do a signing day [because technically] we do not have any athletes signing a letter of intent.”
After this reporter subsequently followed up with Ms. Granese, she said that there were “lots of conversations including the head of the Upper School, college counseling, Ms. Pelmas, and [herself].” Although many Winsor alumna committed to and went on to compete in collegiate athletics, Ms. Granese noted that there has never been a signing day at Winsor. She also commented that “until the admissions office sends out a letter, an NLI is not binding – there could be complications that lead to a student-athlete not going to a school due to many factors.”
However, one Winsor senior noted that “The fact that Winsor did not allow us to have this time is extremely disappointing, especially since our grade has a lot of committed athletes. With the addition of the LOC to Winsor and the amazing new facilities we have at our disposal, it was really surprising to me that Winsor didn’t [host an event to celebrate our accomplishments].” Another senior commented that “From what we understand, Winsor does not have a signing day because they do not want to make the non-athletes feel bad or anxious about college. However, it was sad that at such an important part of our collegiate athletic careers, our school would not be a part of it.”
While some of our EIL opponents such as NCDS and Dana Hall have signing days, their events are to celebrate athletes signing a scholarship offer, or a letter of intent (Ivy League schools do not offer letters of intent). In contrast, Winsor sends out a letter in the spring recapping momentous events in Winsor athletics, said Ms. Granese.
Although having a signing day at Winsor has many pros and cons, committing to play a sport in college is a huge milestone for student-athletes and I think that Winsor should give them more recognition. One of the seniors who emailed Ms. Granese said that they proposed an optional, non-mandatory event for student-athletes and their families “so that non-committed students could choose whether or not to come.” I think that this idea would help (as the student said) “eliminate some of the administration’s concerns about making other seniors/students anxious about college.”
The road from being a high school student-athlete to a collegiate student-athlete is a long and arduous one (a process that I am going through right now), but in the future, I hope to see Winsor’s student-athletes’ biggest accomplishments celebrated by all.