Hassan Halevy had never heard of a postgraduate year until one presented itself as the best option for his son’s soccer career.
Alex Halevy scored 43 goals as a senior forward at Garces and was named the California Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year as the Rams took home the section title in 2021.
But because the pandemic hit right after his junior year, then shortened his senior season, Halevy couldn’t seem to catch the eye of top colleges.
“He was getting some attention from D-I schools, but he really wanted to expand that, I guess,” said his father. “He wanted more opportunities.”
The allure of a post-graduate year, which Hassan Halevy said was suggested by a Division III coach they met on the recruiting trail, was simple. Athletes who spend an extra high school season at a top prep school get a chance to face other top prospects, work with well-connected coaches, pick up course credits and then enter college a year older and wiser.
For Alex, South Kent School in Connecticut, where head coach Owen Finberg sent 11 players to Division I schools in 2021, quickly emerged as a top choice.
“It took me and my parents a lot of convincing,” Alex Halevy said. “We went on a visit and we heard a lot of things about the coach, the connections he had.”
Halevy bought in and, by the end of the year, South Kent had picked up New England prep school and national championships and sent 11 more alumni to the Division I ranks. Halevy was the first among them to commit. He’s joining the DePaul Blue Demons in Chicago this fall.
“I think DePaul’s an up-and-coming team that needs a player like him,” said Halevy’s former Garces teammate Fletcher Bank, “a freshman to come in and help them win games in the Big East.”
The end result was ideal, but Halevy found the East Coast boarding school experience quite demanding initially. He had to contend being away from home for the first time — ”laundry, getting food for yourself, cleaning up after yourself."
“At first, I was super excited to go,” he said, “and I realized the first week I got there I just wanted to go home. And it was like that for a few weeks after that until soccer season started getting ready and stuff. It definitely affected my play. I didn’t feel as confident when I was over in Connecticut.”
Halevy had to contend with a new post-graduate schedule: three hours of class split between morning and afternoon, with weightlifting or training in between, and playing soccer whenever he had free time, too. All the while, he was surrounded by many of the top players in his age group.
“You’ve got some national team players that are on their team,” said Hassan Halevy, who is also co-head coach at Garces. “All the kids that (are) D-I ambitious, their touch, their fitness, their style of play, all of it translates well to the next level.”
The Cardinals were consequently showered with attention from colleges. Halevy said he scored four goals for South Kent on the year, but even in August was already talking to a host of new schools, D-I and otherwise. DePaul emerged as a favorite due to its Chicago location and spot in the high-powered Big East.
Hassan Halevy went to 17 schools during the recruiting process, and DePaul was the one he didn’t visit, but ultimately became his son’s top choice.
“That’s telling me he must have had a lot more fun when I wasn’t there,” he said.
He’s had fun since his arrival on campus in July, too, living with four other freshmen, getting to know his new teammates while participating in captains’ practices and lifts.
“The players here at DePaul, you can’t tell who’s a freshman,” Halevy said. “They all hang out with everybody, they took me under their wing right away, they invite me to everything.”
Earning minutes as a freshman is challenging, but Bank — who saw Halevy boost the confidence of whole teams at Garces with his goalscoring output — thinks his friend could make an impact right away if given the chance.
“I could see him scoring goals this year as a freshman,” Bank said, “and being a guy that contributes heavily to their team.”
Transitioning to college brings all sorts of challenges for young athletes; thankfully for Halevy, he’s already faced them once.