ANDERSON – For high school athletes with a desire to leverage their talents for scholarships, searching for the right college can seem to be an overwhelming undertaking. Balancing the already busy schedule of a teen’s life with the time needed for visiting colleges or attending tournaments and showcases where recruiters often focus their efforts adds to that stress.
For those lacking the financial resources to pour into those efforts, the task can be even more daunting.
Such was the case for Anderson High School tennis star Jamison Geoffreys.
Currently the ninth-ranked player in the state and 27th in the Great Lakes Region, Geoffreys posted a 21-1 record during her high school debut season – which included an individual sectional championship – a year ago and is unbeaten thus far in 2022.
But while she could excel in area tournaments and on the high school courts, her family did not have the means to travel extensively for larger showcase tournaments across the nation.
Six years ago, Jamison’s father, Taylor Geoffreys, suffered an acute aortic aneurysm and, as a result, lost his left leg and part of his right foot. A single father on disability who also cares for adopted son Xavier, a child born prematurely with special needs, Taylor knows how talented his daughter is and worried she would not get the attention from college coaches and recruiters her skills would ordinarily command.
“It was very rewarding. We’re just trying to get her to the next level, ”he said. “There’s the next level, then hopefully the pros, then hopefully she can get me out of the poor house.”
Then the family found Next College Student Athlete, a recruiting platform that offers numerous ways for high school athletes to connect with colleges, particularly in terms of digital options.
“First and foremost, it’s an opportunity for athletes to be able to put all their information in one place to promote themselves to college coaches,” NCSA head tennis recruiting coach Heather Gage said. “It’s kind of like an online resume of sorts. They can post videos – we have a whole team that helps create highlight reels – and they can post their grades and what their interested in. ”
Based on her talents and financial need, Jamison was awarded NCSA’s All In Award, which is given to athletes who have a strong desire to continue their careers in college and demonstrate financial need.
“A lot of kids unfortunately don’t have the resources to be able to do those activities and be seen by coaches,” Gage said. “She’s a phenomenal athlete and a great kid all around. It would be such a shame for her not to have this opportunity because of her surroundings. ”
Through NCSA, Geoffreys was able to widely expand the field of eyes on her abilities. It was not long before she had over 80 coaches following her on the site with over 100 reaching out to her via email through the website’s message center. Her tennis videos received hundreds of views, and she was getting noticed.
Gage said Jeffreys was proactive throughout, a key to ensuring success through the process.
“She was really good about getting after it, which is awesome,” Gage said. “A lot of time you really have to push these teenagers to do the work. With her, she is driven. It was really great to see that. ”
Jeffreys found her future in St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida. It is an NAIA school that is making the move to Division I.
“I’m very excited to experience new things, be with a new team and the weather,” she said. “I’ll be going down there in July for practice and moving in.”
There are additional perks to playing collegiately in Miami. Jeffreys will have the opportunity to hit with professional tennis players who practice in the area as well as to be seen by coaches looking for prospective professional players.
“The opportunity is there. It’s a big, huge opportunity, ”Taylor said. “A smaller school, she’s going to get the same education she’s going to get anywhere else, but the opportunity is there. … There is a lady scouting there looking for boys and girls to play doubles in the pros. … The pro players stay there on campus during the Miami Open. ”
Gage adds St. Thomas – one of multiple scholarship opportunities Geoffreys had available to her – is a perfect fit for the Anderson youngster.
“The opportunity for high-level competition is right there,” she said. “She could have gone to a D1 school – or D2 or whatever division – but the exposure to the caliber of talent she will have – because we don’t know what she’s capable of yet.”
With her college plans now set and an opportunity to fulfill her future hopes and dreams, Geoffreys can now relax and enjoy her senior tennis season. She won’t forget where she came from, and she appreciates all her father did for her growing up, from those first tennis lessons at the age of 2 until now.
“I appreciate it a lot because I know he’s busy, but he takes time out to take me places and do stuff for me for tennis,” she said.
Although limited in many ways, Taylor refuses to say it has been a tough road. But the help from NCSA has been immeasurable.
“It was an extremely valuable tool to have. It took a lot of pressure off of me, ”he said.
Jamison plans to study nursing and physical therapy at St. Thomas.