Inside The Decision: Denise Spann - Becoming A Michigan State Spartan

Track season is definitely moving by pretty fast as the state meet is less than three weeks away, but one day that's closer than states in the 2nd signing date for track and field. April 15th is right around the corner and for those who didn't sign in November it will be the deciding moment of where they'll be continuing the next four years of their track careers. Signing Day is a big day in general for any athlete and there is a lot that goes behind picking a school, besides coaches, programs, conferences and states. So in the spirit of this upcoming signing day take a look inside my decision into Michigan State.

After my junior year finished, I had only one state meet under my belt, but I was still confident that I would sign to a Division I school that I dreamed of going to. As summer went by, I realized that signing to a college wasn't going to be as easy as I thought it would be. My top school list kept shuffling around as I emailed schools and spoke with coaches. I was kind of getting down on myself because I didn't have visits lined up and coaches blowing up my phone asking me to come to their school. When I got my first visit to UTEP it was definitely a different type of experience. I had to make sure I asked the right questions, pay attention and made sure that I enjoyed myself. UTEP was a very fun school to visit and the girls were really nice and friendly. The only problem was that UTEP had not only a lot of girls on their team, but a lot of quarter runners to the point where the coach could only offer me 30%.

The offer played a big role in my decision because since it was an out of state university my scholarship basically made me an instate student and I still had to come up with almost $10,000 after receiving an academic scholarship. After my visit I started getting a lot more calls from schools like University of Arizona, Georgia State and other schools. When I got the call from Coach Kinard, we bonded instantly and she was really fun to be on the phone with. We talked consistently on the phone for about two weeks before she asked me to come on a visit and when she did I was so excited.

The visit was during the best time of football season because I was able to come up on the Michigan State vs Ohio State game (sadly, we lost). When I was there I really paid attention to how big the campus was and how I thought I would be able to fit in to an environment like that. Also I found similarities when it came to the workout program I'm on now and the one she puts her athletes through. Even though this is her first year as a sprint coach coming from just jumps, I know she knows what she's doing, since her triple jumper went 53 in her first open 400m of last season. The weight room and the rest of the track and field facilities were to die for, I was in awe when I got to see both tracks and how the weight room was so equipped. The girls are also very tight knit and do a lot of things together. Another good thing was that even though it's far away from Florida, I have family in Kalamazoo and Adrian, Michigan which are an hour away each way.

The night before signing day I got the magical call from Coach Kinard offering me my scholarship to Michigan State. She offered a 75% athletic scholarship and the school gave me a 15% academic scholarship which left only $4,000 that other scholarships cover. Since it was the night before the last day to sign in the early period I had to really think the whole situation out and fast. It was definitely a lot to think about and big decision to think about in about two hours. I spoke to my mom about it and then I also remember that if I turn it down and verbally commit that the scholarship might decrease.

The following day I made one of the biggest and best decisions of my track career to make myself a proud Spartan this upcoming fall. Thinking back on signing it was one of the happiest moments in my life, one I've day dreamed about since I was in the 9th grade and I saw Shayla Sanders sign to the University of Florida. A lot of people ask me if I wish I waited, and till this day I say no, because not all thing are guaranteed so that offer could have been taken off the table leaving that pressure on me majority of my season. Also, I can see myself being able to contribute to the team as well as adapting to MSU's program very well.

I'm really happy with the decision I made to become a Spartan and I wouldn't change my mind at all. The Big 10 is a great conference for 400m girls, and Michigan State is definitely becoming a team to fear in the conference as the years go on! I'm glad I'll be able to be a part of the growth of an athletic program that can win and make a statement! GO SPARTANS!

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