Back to School (Recruiting)
Youngsters who are involved in sports, we hope, are involved for the right reasons: Learning teamwork, staying active, honing social skills. A few are athletically gifted enough that they can look forward to a career at the next level, be it high school, college or beyond. Whether you work with youngsters in camps, in AAU-type organizations or at school, the process of playing with one eye on a scholarship is a stressful one.
First, the facts, courtesy the NCAA: Eight million kids are participating in high school sports. Only 480,000 of them (about 6 percent) will eventually compete in collegiate athletics at an NCAA program. And only 56 percent of those athletes will receive “some level” of scholarship assistance, and that amount averages less than $11,000 per student-athlete.
And remember, many scholarships are “partial” scholarships, especially when you are dealing with the so-called Olympic sports of track and field, soccer and the like. Even baseball often hands out fractional aid packages (unless you’re a left handed fire-throwing pitcher).
Some families sign up with recruiting services to get exposure in front of college coaches for their young athlete; others make their own videos and send to coaches across the country. Still others make sure the athlete participates in as many “showcase” events as possible to hopefully catch a coach’s eye.
Is there a guarantee any of this will work? Of course not. A football player who has his heart set on an SEC school may not get a sniff there, but doesn’t want to go anywhere else. A student-athlete can sign a letter of intent to a school, only to have the coach leave before classes start. Injury is always a threat in the back of everyone’s mind. As we get closer to letter of intent day for many of the fall sports, including college football, it’s a good reminder that kids who participate in sports are not only preparing for the next level in athletics—they’re preparing for the next step in life.