D-1 Not the Only One | Carley Davis Finds the NAIA

An email from Carley to us about our "D-1 Not the Only One" series

I just read your recent article about Tatum Jelleberg and I just wanted to share my recruitment story with you! I just want to say that I love this series about the recruitment of non-Divison I athletes! I think that this is a great way to help underclassmen understand that they can still compete in college and they shouldn't be discouraged to end their running career after senior year. I also committed to Hastings College in Nebraska to run cross country and track and field this fall! I never thought I would be able to run at the collegiate level because I wasn't the top runner on my team and my times didn't match those at the collegiate level. When a couple of smaller, NAIA schools started to reach out to me, I was thrilled! I've been running for a long time and I have loved competing for years, so being able to continue to run at the collegiate level is so exciting to me. I'm glad that I was given the opportunity to continue to work hard and improve! Thank you for letting me share my story with you guys! 

Carley Davis

You're so welcome, Carley! Congrats to you. The following are Carley's answers to our questions.

Carley Davis

Did you always think about running in college? If yes, what were your aspirations before this season? If no, then what changed that made you wish to compete in college?
I didn't always think I would be able to run I college, but during the summer between my junior and senior years, I had a few NAIA and D3 schools reach out to me and I received a couple of offers.

How did you find out about the schools you got recruited by? Did they find you? Did you reach out to them? What was the process? How important were your school grades in this process?
The first couple of schools reached out to my coach, who then gave them my contact information, but after a couple of months, most of the schools began contacting me based on my results. A lot of the schools that contacted me I have never even heard of, but they all turned out to be excellent schools.

What were you looking for in a college in regards to running?
Academics always come first for me, so I work hard at keeping my grades up! During this process, I found that it is helpful to hold good grades because college coaches like to see that you are capable of keeping up with school as well as the sport!

What advice would you tell underclassmen like you, who are good runners, but aren't the US-ranked athletes like others in AZ, in regards to competing in college and finding the right school for you?
I focused a lot on how well I would fit into the program based on my times. After that, I also wanted to make sure the teams got along well with each other! Team bonding is a big thing for me and I wanted to make sure that I would be comfortable with the people around me and that I would always have support from my teammates! To the underclassmen runners, I just want them to know that there are so many options and opportunities for them to continue running. It may not be a top Division I school, but if you are passionate about the sport and love what you are doing, continue to do so. Do your research and talk to your coaches, they know a lot more than you'd think! My coach helped me so much through this process and I couldn't thank her enough!

Who had the biggest impact on you for wanting to compete in college? What was his/her impact?
I think my coaches and my parents definitely had the biggest on me for wanting me to continue competing. My parents always believed in me and encouraged me to do the things I love doing. My coaches also helped me become the runner and the person I am today, and without that, I don't think I would have ever considered running in college. My teammates also had a huge impact on me! Without their constant love and support, I would no be the athlete I am today!

I had a lot of schools that were interested in me at the beginning of my senior year, so through a lot of research, I narrowed my options down to 4 different schools. From there, I talked on the phone with all of them and narrowed it down to my top two choices. I visited both colleges on recruiting trips, one this past October, the other in February. After both visits, I did a lot more research and finally committed to Hastings College! It was really tough to choose between my top two because I had made such a good connection with both coaches, but ultimately, I am very happy with my decision to attend Hastings.

What, if anything, would you have done differently in this recruiting process?
I wouldn't have done anything differently! I think the way I went about my recruitment process was very organized and thought out, and in the end, I was able to commit to an amazing school!

There is a way to get to your athletic goals without going directly to D-1 (from Stack.com)

There seems to be an unwritten rule that if you're an athlete and want to play at the highest level in college, you have to be at that institution for all four years of your eligibility.

That's simply not true. Many former and present-day professional athletes have debunked that myth. Here are a handful of examples to show there's more than one path to Division I athletics or the pros:

  • Aaron Rodgers: Before playing quarterback for the Cal Bears, his collegiate career started at Butte Community College in California.

Aaron Rodgers highlights at Butte

  • Keyshawn Johnson: Prior to catching passes at USC, the former NFL receiver first attended and played for West Los Angeles College.
  • Jae Crowder: Howard College, a community college in Big Spring, Texas, was where Crowder played before taking his talents to Marquette.
  • Jimmy Butler: Although Butler finished his college basketball career at Marquette, he began at Tyler Junior College in Texas.

Jimmy Butler Interview about going back to Tyler Community College

  • Albert Pujols: He'll go down as one of the best right-handed hitters to ever play Major League Baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals drafted him in the 13th round of the 1999 MLB Draft out of Maple Woods Community College, located in Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Jorge Posada: The former New York Yankees catcher and four-time World Series champion actually got drafted by the Bronx Bombers twice. He played baseball for Calhoun Community College in Decatur, Alabama on both occasions.
(source: https://www.stack.com/a/why-going-d1-isnt-the-end-all-be-all)

Next AZ Feature Athlete - Could it be You?

If you're a senior who is NOT an NCAA D-1 recruit but were recruited to compete at the collegiate level, let us know your story on how you got found by your school.

With the time we all have now at home, we would greatly encourage many of you juniors who aren't the top-level of the track and field talent-pool to start planning now on what schools you may wish to reach out to this spring, summer and early fall. If you love this sport, there is a spot for you somewhere - you just need to find it.

Were you recruited by an NAIA, D-II, D-III, or NJCAA school?

We'd love to hear your story.

Email us: dza@milesplitaz.com