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How to Use Sports to Impress the Ivies

With March Madness starting up, I thought now would be a great time to discuss sports and how even if you do not expect to be a recruited athlete you can and should use sports to demonstrate your leadership, commitment, and uniqueness. In high school, I played tennis. I definitely wasn’t one of the best players. I barely made it on the team, and I hated running (still sort of do…). I was on the team all four years, though. And even though I played on the JV team, I made a varsity letter every year because our JV team played againstimageat least one varsity team every season. So on my resume I was able to list four years of varsity letters in tennis, which while not the most unique sport is a little unusual in the Midwest.




Like me, you should shoot for playing the same sport all four years. Elite colleges want to see that you commit yourself to a sport or musical instrument, something that takes a fair amount of time and focus to master. This gives them the indication that you will commit to your studies and your goals. If you’re a junior, don’t worry too much that you’re behind. Three or four years is ideal to demonstrate commitment, but you can still demonstrate leadership and uniqueness with a sport even if you only have two seasons left.




You do not need to be the best player to be the team captain! This is a common misconception that can hold you back if you let it. You need to be the most dedicated and pitch in when needed. Think of what you can do to put in that extra effort. Maybe you can organize morning conditioning workouts or take the lead on integrating new players into the team. Ask your coach what would be the most useful. If your team doesn’t have captains or you weren’t able to secure the position, ask your coach if you can list yourself as team manager on your resume. As long as you are providing value to your coach, he or she will be happy to help you.




Sports are a great way to set you apart from the crowd. For example, an Asian student who plays violin is pretty ubiquitous, but an Asian-American girl who is a two-sport varsity athlete is more unusual. Maybe there’s a sport you really enjoy that isn’t available at your school. Look into creating a club sport for it. That shows not only uniqueness but also initiative. Another perk for playing unusual sports is that they are typically less competitive, so you can more easily excel in them. Pick a sport that most people of your demographic do not play. If you really love a sport that isn’t unusual for your demographic, don’t worry. You can still demonstrate commitment and leadership with the sport.


Action Steps

  1. Talk to your coach today about how you can assist the team and secure that team captain or team manager position.
  2. Commit and lead the team. Put in the extra effort. It’s worth it!
  3. Leave a comment about how you are leading your team.

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