We’ve all heard the term “feeder school” before.
While it’s no secret that select feeder schools often send many top students to elite, private universities, it may surprise some that many athletes come from the same high schools.
There are numerous possible explanations for such a phenomenon. Perhaps a coach or an assistant has ties with a certain school. Maybe players from top high-school programs gravitate to similarly accomplished collegiate programs.
But possibly the biggest factor is proximity. At first glance, a great portion Penn’s overall student body — and athletes — comes from Philadelphia, New Jersey or New York.
Freshmen Max Kurtzman, Penn’s starting goalie in soccer, and the lacrosse duo of Joe McCallion and Chris Hupfeldt all went to the Haverford School — a prestigious, all-boys private school.
“[Joe and I] committed to Penn at different times but it was definitely nice and relieving to know that we would have friends coming into Penn,” Kurtzman said.
“Max and I were best friends in high school … and Chris was also one of my best friends,” McCallion said.
McCallion is one of the Quakers’ two face-off aces and was captain of both the lacrosse and football teams at Haverford, leading the lacrosse team to a national No. 1 ranking.
One simple reason Haverford athletes choose Penn is familiarity with the area. For McCallion, it was a “huge factor.”
“Joe and I both went to high school about 10 miles from here,” Kurtzman said. “It’s really nice for us to be able to be at school close to home.”
Additionally, the success of a certain high-school program typically pushes its students toward equally competitive collegiate ones.
Haverford, for example, is easily one of the best — if not the best — lacrosse programs in the country.
“Certain schools — like Haverford — I don’t want to say are athletic powerhouses but in a certain sense they are,” McCallion said. “So a lot of athletes come from high schools like that.”
But what makes a school like Penn attractive to student-athletes from such programs?
The first answer they usually give: attending an Ivy school while having the opportunity to be a part of nationally recognized teams.
“I think the combination of great academics and great athletics at Penn make it very easy for student athletes to come here and transition into the school,” Kurtzman said.
There are other cases of athletes from the same high school, but who play different sports, attending. Forward Duke Lacroix, a rising soccer star, and Oscar Mattson, a squash player and younger brother of squash captain Thomas Mattson, are both freshmen from Lawrenceville School, which is six miles outside of Princeton. Terence Smith, a sophomore rower, also went there.
And again, the similarity to Haverford is striking. The school boasts a strong academic program, renowned athletic program — the squash team, for example, is routinely in the conversation for a national title, having won three straight from 2004 to 2006 — and is located nearby Penn’s campus.
Christian Brothers Academy, or CBA, located in Middletown, N.J., is another example, having sent Jimmy Tully (track) and Christian Bersani (football) to Penn last year. CBA has a reputation for its dominance in New Jersey track, and is also very close to Penn.
Overall, there seems to be a pretty good explanation for a high school sending multiple athletes to a particular college, even in different sports. Proximity and a solid athletic program make it easier on the athletes and the coaches.
It’s highly doubtful a public school in the midwest, for example, would send multiple student-athletes to Penn in one year.
But, in recruiting from schools with very similar athletic profiles, Penn is guaranteed a pipeline of talent.