Polo Star Changes College Commitment

Amanda Young, Staff Writer

After originally committing to the University of Southern California (USC) in the fall, varsity water polo captain Katie Klein has changed her mind and now plans to attend Brown University next year.

Klein verbally committed to USC to play water polo after taking visits to both campuses. “[Signing day] was right after I’d come off of my USC official, and I loved USC, but after thinking about it for a longer time, I thought that Brown would be the best fit for me,” she said.

Ultimately, location and balance were key factors for Klein’s reversal. “Basically, it came down to the best school that I could get into. Not that USC isn’t a great school, but I think that it’s always been a dream of mine to live on the East Coast and play East Coast water polo,” Klein continued. “My sister played at Princeton, and she loved it. It was more of just the good balance between school, water polo, social life, having the ability to have jobs, and not having to have water polo 24/7.”

Klein played water polo all 4 years of her high school career. Head coach Kim Everist considered her to be a “key player” for the Cougars.

“As an aggressive attacker, she was pivotal in many of the successes,” said Everist. “Katie has always been ambitious in the pool. From [the beginning of her high school journey] to the end, Katie was a fun spirit on the team, always keeping things interesting. Katie is more mature here at the end, but has stayed pretty consistent over the years. I think she has become a good teammate and team leader over time and really recognizes the value of ‘team.'”

Everist noted that her role in Klein’s recruitment process was mainly that of an advisor. However, early on, she contacted coaches from each program on Klein’s behalf. Everist said, “Katie and I talked often about her college options,” but added that she had no influence over Klein’s final decision.

Klein was able to terminate her commitment to USC because she wasn’t receiving a large scholarship and because she had never actually submitted an application to the school. “I didn’t have to withdraw anything because [the applications were] not due until January 15, so I hadn’t filled it out yet,” explained Klein. “I basically just had a very long conversation with the USC coach, and he wasn’t too happy.”

According to Klein, athletic commitments are usually irrevocable if a scholarship is in order. “I didn’t sign any legal documents. Getting a scholarship means you’re [committed] to the school, but I wasn’t,” she explained.

College and Career Center advisor Joan Batcheller added that because Klein only verbally committed to USC, it was not a formal contract. “The school can break a verbal commitment, and the athlete can break a verbal commitment,” Batcheller said. “There’s a National Letter of Intent (NLI) that is a big deal. If she’d signed that, then she wouldn’t be able to break it.”

The consequence for breaking an NLI is being suspended from play for a full year.

Tom Duffy, a teacher of Klein’s for English 2, 3 and 4, believes that Klein made the right decision in switching schools.

“[The USC] coach is a legend and their program competes for national championships every year. If USC wants you on their polo team, it means you have serious game,” Duffy said. “However, I think Katie has made the right choice.  At USC, water polo would have been her entire life.  At Brown, water polo will be part of her life. Also, I think Katie will really enjoy the East Coast college experience.”

Klein’s teammate, senior Erin Neustrom, is proud of Klein for choosing Brown. “I know it’s been her dream to go to an Ivy,” said Neustrom. “Either program would have been awesome, but I know that Brown is the place for [Katie].”

Senior Vanessa Vaisnor, a friend, was also thrilled for Katie. “Since we’re super close, I knew that she was talking to both of them. When she committed to USC, that was obviously really sick, but she’s always said that she wanted to go to an East Coast school,” Vaisnor said. “That was her ideal image of college–on the East Coast, with the weather and the academics. I wasn’t really surprised, to be honest.”

“Katie is a very outgoing person. She always brings a lot of light to the team, and I’ve never really met someone who has the ability to go from being really silly to being really focused during the game,” Neustrom said. “She’s just super light-hearted and doesn’t take anything too seriously, but she also knows when to get work done. I think that’ll really help her at Brown.”

Duffy added that Klein has a positive attitude and is determined. He believes that these qualities will help Klein succeed in college and beyond.