By David Willis Staff Writer
The Andover Townsman
---- — One was among the top swimming recruits in the country, one was dedicated to diving in the Ivy League, and the third was considering following in her accomplished sister’s footsteps.
They may have been considering different schools, but Andover seniors Maggie D’Innocenzo, Deborah Daly and Ashlee Korsberg were all quick to agree on one fact.
The college recruiting process is not easy.
“I wasn’t as much excited as I was relieved for it to be over,” said D’Innocenzo with a laugh. “It is such a long process of flying around and no sleep. Coaches calling all the time. It’s tough.”
It may have been a challenge, but all three made their decisions late last week, with D’Innocenzo committing to swim for USC, Daly deciding to dive for Princeton and Korsberg committing to swim at Harvard.
“It is so great to make the decision,” said Daly. “All of September and most of October I was so stressed out. It was a hard choice, but I feel like I made the right decision.”
D’Innocenzo, ranked the No. 32 recruit in the country by collegeswimming.com, did not flip a coin to made her challenging college decision. But a little luck didn’t hurt.
“(Last) Thursday night I sat down with my mom and we had narrowed the choices down to USC and Texas and I saw stuck,” she said. “I made a list of pros and cons, and it came out to a 9-9 tie and the (scholarship) money was basically even.
“My mother said to me, ‘As a joke, lets flip a coin. Heads for Texas, tails for USC.’ We flipped and it landed on heads, and I was kind of excited. Later I was talking to my father and he said we should flip a coin as a joke, not knowing I had already done it with my mom. It was heads for USC and tails for Texas and it came up heads. Then I started to realize USC was where I wanted to go. There was a sign there.”
D’Innocenzo is the second member of her family to be a top college swimming recruit, following her brother Nick who is currently a senior swimmer at the University of Texas, a school that also strongly pursued Maggie.
“It was a very hard choice because Texas is very close to my heart and I felt very at home there,” said Maggie. “I’ve been there to watch Nick swim and everyone felt like they were family. But I wanted to leave my comfort zone and experience something new.”
When she visited USC in early October, it was a very special experience.
“They took us on a tour of the campus and it was just so cool,” she said. “The facilities were great, the girls were really friendly and you can’t beat California weather.
“Then we were eating lunch at some small place on campus, and who walks in but (USC quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist) Matt Barkley. I was all googly-eyed. I asked him for a picture and sent it to everyone. We also went to L.A. Live (entertainment complex) in downtown. It was so cool, other than all the Lakers fans.”
While she was thrilled by the glitz of Hollywood, D’Innocenzo also noted more practical reasons for her decision.
“The swimming is terrific at USC,” she said. “They have finished third at NCAAs as a team each of the last three years behind the University of California, which just signed (Olympic gold medalist) Missy Franklin, and Georgia. It’s a great team with great coaching and they have done a lot to improve their facilities. I can’t wait to live in LA.”
Following a tradition
For Korsberg, Harvard had long been a target.
“Harvard was always my favorite,” said Korsberg. “It is such a great college with great swimming. It was still a tough decision, but I knew I wanted to go to Harvard.”
Korsberg, who won four individual or relay events at Division 1 States last spring, had a tremendous resource while making her decision in her sister, 2011 Harvard swimming co-captain Kristi Korsberg.
“She had such a great college experience at Harvard that it helped some,” said Ashlee. “I used to always go to her meets and my club team practices there sometimes. In the end, I loved everything about Harvard. When I went on my recruiting trip, I knew I could see myself there for the next four years.”
While Ashlee is following the footsteps of her older sister, she will not be joined at Harvard by twin sister and fellow Golden Warriors standout Alexa, who is still making her school decision.
“It will be hard to be away from my sister because we have always been together for 17 years,” said Ashlee. “But we will be fine. It will be good for us to do separate things for a few years.”
Daly had long heard that rain during a college visit was a bad sign.
“They say when you go on a college visit and it’s raining you won’t like the school,” she said. “It was pouring and disgusting outside the day I visited Princeton, but I loved it. It was beautiful and I knew I wanted to go there.”
For Daly, who won the diving at Division 1 States last season, the Ivy League was always the goal.
“I wasn’t sitting there and saying I only wanted to go Ivy,” said Daly, who scored a 31 on her ACTs. “But they had everything I wanted. I wanted a small school with top academics and Division 1 diving. I looked at Yale, Dartmouth, Columbia and Brown, but I loved Princeton.
“The diving there is great. They have had a diver place first or second at Ivys each of the last few years, and they regularly take divers to NCAAs.”