Three Santa Monica High School athletes ‘signed’ to continue their athletic endeavors in college on National Signing Day.

These student-athletes were celebrated with the entire athletic program and the athletes’ families during a brief on-campus ceremony. Brielle Minor chose to continue her basketball endeavors at Cal State Fullerton, Aaron Smollins will play baseball at Rollins College, and Jamie Browning will play volleyball at Springfield College.

Traditionally occurring on the first Wednesday of February, National Signing Day is when high school athletes start to sign National Letters of Intents (NLIs), legally binding the student to their college’s athletic program. Starting in the 1960s, the NLI was developed by college athletic conferences to simplify the signing process. Then, the signing process was much messier, with colleges handing out offers to students well into their senior year, without anything concrete. Now, National Signing Day marks the end of the recruitment process, as well as providing the student with a scholarship for the first year of college. After the first year, the college must let the student know if they will be renewing the scholarship.

For many, this is a monumental moment. Students are reaping the rewards of their efforts devoted to the sport and many students say the day feels very rewarding.

“I’m excited to compete at the highest level. It has always been my dream to play D1 and now that it is actually happening I’m extremely excited for what’s to come,” said Minor. “For me, it just provided an opportunity to be excited for my accomplishments and my future alongside all of my friends and family.”

Getting recruited for a sport is a long and grueling process, with multiple steps over a long period of time.

“I started communicating with colleges early in my junior year. I sent out videos, I emailed, my coaches talked to the colleges I was interested in… At the time I was actually being recruited for softball and basketball so I still wasn’t sure what my decision was gonna be. For me, I made my decision to push for basketball when I got to attend an open gym with the players and coaches at CSUF. I am a super competitive person so getting to see D1 basketball and play firsthand really inspired me to get even better so I could play at that level and compete and be an asset. I ended up getting offered around 4-5 months after that at a practice for my high school team with all my teammates,” said Minor.

There are many deciding factors to consider when choosing a college. Student-athletes can struggle with this decision during the recruitment process, but sports and majors can help narrow down one’s choices.

“I knew CSUF was right for me because I really like the campus and its facilities and the location. I also considered my major which is kinesiology and considering CSUF has a good kinesiology program it wasn’t a hard decision for me,” said Minor. “For me, I didn’t have my heart specifically set on a type of college or place or anything when I started my recruiting. So finding a college that fit me wasn’t too difficult because I was open to any opportunity. What determines the right college for me is the environment and people on campus for the most part.”

Part of the appeal of playing a sport in college is being able to have more freedom with your schedule, unlike in high school.

Minor said, “I think it will definitely be different. With not having set classes for six hours every day and going straight to practice, and morning workouts, and having to be more independent, it will definitely be different but I am excited.”

After playing a sport in college, many people including Minor hope to go pro.

“I think most people want to play Pro and would if they had the opportunity. Even though it may be a bit unrealistic for me I would love to,” said Minor. “In the future, I hope to see more recognition for girls basketball in general.”

Maggie Marks

SMDP Intern