Robert K. Cato

Letters, texts and phone calls. Promises of championships. Offers of big-money scholarships. Another day in the college sports recruiting wars? No, it’s what local kids as young as 10 are being deluged with—from some of Philadelphia’s most elite private high schools

ON A BALMY mid-February Sunday afternoon, Paul was in high school — sort of. He had decided to attend the Catholic League school, and after his family signed the enrollment contract, he was working out with the team.

“I want to win a state championship,” Paul says. “That’s the main reason I chose the school.”

The Inter-Ac school Paul was considering made a strong pitch and even offered scholarship money — despite the fact that Jack was never asked to fill out forms to see whether he qualified for aid. So much for the Inter-Ac’s oft-repeated “need-based aid” mantra. “They didn’t offer a full ride, or even half, but they were fair,” Jack says.

Now that the process is over, Paul’s finally able to be excited about his next four years. He enjoyed the workout with his future teammates and looks forward to being part of a successful program. He may have turned down a better academic situation at the Inter-Ac school, but he believes he’ll still get a “good education.” More importantly, he’ll be chasing a championship.

“They like to win,” he says, laughing. “They like to win a lot.”