Remarkable Recruits: 3 IBW athletes uncover their college recruiting process


Cate Latimer (she/her), Editor


We’ve all seen them. Come fall, statements and pictures of high school athletes announcing their commitment to colleges begin popping up across the nation. At Ida B. Wells, three prominent recruits have risen to the challenge of collegiate athletics.



Olivia Kozitza, Lacrosse, University of Oregon

Olivia Kozitza, a junior at Ida B. Wells, has already committed to the University of Oregon to play Division 1 lacrosse. “It happened all at once,” she said. After September 1 of an athlete’s junior year, schools are allowed to begin recruiting. “That next morning I started taking phone calls,” she said. “I took an official visit to Oregon and I just decided to commit. It was pretty quick, I was committed within like two weeks.”

As a junior, Kozitza’s commitment is largely set in stone a full year before she has to apply to college. “It’s nice to know that I only have to apply to one school,” Kozitza said, and it was just the school she wanted to attend. “I grew up going to Oregon games and my coaches actually went and played there, so I’ve always kind of had that influence,” she said. “I couldn’t think of what another school would be able to offer me that would make me change my mind.”

Although Kozitza’s process appeared to be smooth, it wasn’t without its difficulties. “I think it’s interesting because, for lacrosse, it’s very east coast-based. Coming from the west coast it almost put you at a little bit of a disadvantage because all the big showcases and most of the schools were all out on the east coast,” she said. With other athletes living closer to these showcases, it was much easier for them to get more exposure. 

For lacrosse recruiting, Kozitza said that “club is everything.” Playing for a club team developed her skills and allowed her to get on recruiters’ radars unlike anything else. “I was able to get a lot more opportunities to go to tournaments and just get looks,” Kozitza said. Her club coaches were also vital to the process as they advocated for her with collegiate teams. “I think especially for lacrosse, all the recruiting process is through club. College coaches don’t really recruit through high school teams.”

Throughout her journey, Kozitza has learned a lot. “Don’t compare your process to other peoples’ because everyones’ process is different,” she said. “Some people commit September 2 and some people commit their senior year. I think just being patient and keeping your options open and just waiting for the right opportunity is super helpful.”


Petra Schuster, Cross Country and Track, UC Berkeley

IBW senior Petra Schuster has been recruited to UC Berkeley for cross country and track, something she once viewed as impossible due to her injuries throughout her high school career. “I had a coach that was friends with the CAL coaches, and the coaches reached out to me around sophomore or junior year. We kind of built a relationship while I was injured, which was really nice. I finally went on an official visit and I committed,” she said. “My whole process was probably around seven to eight months.”

But the decision wasn’t easy. 

“I was actually going to apply to Stanford because my dad and sister went there, but their running program was super exclusive. I just felt a bond with the girls on the CAL team, so I was super excited to have that opportunity.” 

Schuster’s injury was a unique challenge in her recruiting process. “I’m actually on my third stress fracture of the year,” Shuster said, “so I was worried they weren’t going to want me, but it didn’t turn out that way. They had faith the entire time.” 

And their trust was warranted after Schuster’s years of running and competing for both her club and the IBW team. 

“I did Bowerman Youth [Track Club] from sixth grade to eighth grade. They only had it going up to age 14, so after that, I stopped and I was kind of running on the side with another coach during the off-season and then I would go with my own team during in-season track and cross country.” 

When it came to Schuster’s experience, she was thankful for her relationships with coaches that allowed her to be recruited despite injuries. 

“Make those connections early,” she advised aspiring collegiate athletes. “And then stay focused when you’re young because it will pay off and they will look at your successes in the past and probably want you.”

Elle Unflat, Soccer, Cal State East Bay

Elle Unflat officially announced her commitment to Cal State East Bay in September of her senior year at IBW, but she hadn’t always known where she would end up. 

“My recruiting process was kind of all over the place because I didn’t know where I wanted to go originally,” Unflat said. “So I looked at a lot of different places and really explored all of my options before I committed.” 

Unflat participated in ID camps, camps taught by coaches and watched by recruiters, and traveled frequently. “Last summer I was gone basically all of the summer because I was traveling to different schools to do visits.” She played showcases, and if there was interest from coaches, she would set up calls and then visits. “I was narrowing it down to my top three choices,” she said.

COVID didn’t help with the decision.

“I could have started a lot earlier,” Unflat said. “At the start of their junior year, a lot of people typically know where they are going, but that’s just so different from my class because we didn’t have last year at all to really showcase. So, this past season, we were going to so many events and everything, just trying to get college coaches to see us because everything was so backed up.”

Luckily, Unflat found the perfect school for her. “When I first started my recruiting process, I wanted to go to school in California, and one thing my dad always was telling me was ‘make sure you’re going to a school that you’re going to want to go to if soccer gets taken away. Because you never know when you’re going to get hurt,’” she said. “East Bay was one of those schools where I was like, I know I’m going to be happy here. And then obviously I met the coaches and the team and it was just a very inclusive environment.”

Unflat’s recruiting process, while ultimately successful, placed a lot of stress on her as a player and a person. “You don’t always know what the coaches are thinking,” she said. “I was talking with the University of Idaho coaches for a while. They were going to offer me and then they had to call me and tell me, ‘we want you for all these reasons but we need our last ‘23 recruit to be a goalkeeper.’”

“It was just really hard to hear, but that made me reconsider all my other options, and just reflecting, I’m really glad not to be going there. 

When reflecting on her process, Unflat assures aspiring collegiate athletes that it is never too early to start preparing for recruitment. “Make sure you are watching your film and making clips to send coaches because that’s how they get interested first,” she said. “And when you’re meeting coaches, don’t be afraid to be yourself because coaches don’t want robotic players, they want personality and they really want to get to know you—that’s how they’re going to figure out if they’re a good fit for their program.”


As the year continues, there’s more excitement to come as we learn more about the paths IBW students are taking after graduation. From athletics to trade schools, to colleges across the country, the IBW community is eager to see where alumni end up.