The doors of Princeton University opened for Christopher Paige on a sunny day in Hawaii.
It one took him days to charge through. The Punahou senior committed to the Tigers football program on Thursday, nine days after being recruited by the Ivy League institution.
“I’m super excited to play for a great team and attend a great school. I couldn’t be happier,” the 6-foot-2, 185-pound wide receiver said.
Paige turned down offers and opportunities from seven other programs: Air Force, Army, Penn, Navy, Valparaiso, Northern Colorado and Columbia.
“I contacted all of them before hand to let them know an thank them beforehand. Thank you for believing in me,” he said.
Paige’s interest in Princeton’s computer science program was a key factor. When the school asked him to join their football team, Paige noted that Princeton has the best computer science program in the nation.
The Ivy League does not grant athletic scholarships, per se, but the financial package for student-athletes can be substantial.
“If I could sign right now, I would sign. They just ask when you commit that you commit to the admissions process,” Paige said. “In one of their presentations they made a point that the hyphen between student and athlete is really important to them, and that no other school does as good a job of balancing the two. To me, there’s nothing more important than academics.”
The Ivy League cancelled fall sports, including football, and winter sports this academic year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everything remains up in the air as for spring sports.
Football next fall is a hope.
“I have no idea. They said hopefully they’ll try and fly guys up in March to see the campus if the NCAA lifts all the restrictions,” Paige said. “They said to stay in shape, be the best you can be before you come up.”
In Hawaii, there is hope for football, which was postponed until 2021. The plan, yet to be approved by the Department of Health, would have football in the later half of the spring semester. That would be a conflict for athletes who play other spring sports. In addition to football, Paige is one of the state’s top hurdlers.
“I think the first thing I’ve got to have is have a conversation with our coaches to see what they think is best. Some people have said playing in a season right before you go up to play college football is taxing, or worse case is you get injured and you don’t have a year to recover, and you miss out on a whole bunch of stuff,” he said. “Track is never a bad option, you’re always working on your fast-twitch muscles.”
He is willing to stay in both football, and track and field.
“In a perfect world, I’d be able to do both sports,” Paige said. “I don’t really know. I hope they figure that out. Also, there’s a bunch of football kids who run track. I think one sport is going to have way less kids.”
If the opportunity arises, there could be a family adventure to Princeton, N.J.
“My mom (Traci) and dad (James) talked about planning a trip,” Paige said. “As soon as it settles down.”