With championships in progress or just around the corner, many athletes are preparing to put it on the line. For those athletes finishing up their high school careers, many are looking toward the future. Decisions to attend university and compete for a different team can be a stressful yet exciting time for the young student athlete.
Though the thought of attending post secondary school is grand, the financial requirement to actually attend school is extremely taxing. For this reason, many athletes find themselves hunting for a scholarship in order to fund their journey. The recruitment process is very strict and unfortunately many athletes find themselves without an offer. Even if the athlete is talented, academic requirements must still be met. Although the Sport Coach controls the funding, the institution controls the admission. No grades, no offer, no sports.
I want to take a look at some stats out there to give a better understanding of how scholarships work. Keep in mind that many statistics come from the USA where the recruitment process is a huge business. Although every student athlete wants an offer, not every student athlete understands what it takes to get one. So let’s look at some numbers.
The NCAA posted facts July 2016 regarding high school athletics and college athletics. At the time, there were approximately 7,800,000 high school student athletes across the country with the highest majority coming from football. In the NCAA, there were approximately 480,000 student athletes enrolled in universities. That means the percent of athletes moving from high school to college sports is only 6%. The NCAA released a statement in regards to scholarships and although many student athletes get some sort of financial backing, only 2% of high school students are offered an athletic scholarship.
So you may be asking “How much are they getting?”. The popular sport (football and basketball) scholarship awards approximately $10,400 while the other sports average $8,400. Keep in mind that it is the coach’s discretion that decides whether or not to renew that scholarship year after year.
It is important to remember that you apply to the institution and grades are very important. At the end of the day, you will be playing on a team that represents academics. The requirements listed below were released by the NCAA just prior to August 2016. The student graduate from high school with a minimum 2.0 GPA across 16 core courses. You must get a score of 400 minimum on your SAT or 37 ACT.
So What Do I Do?
Those are the numbers. Just a reminder that these stats come from the NCAA in the United States where the business of recruitment is way bigger than north of the border. The fact of the matter is that awards are rare. I’m not trying to discourage young up and coming athletes but instead make them aware. You must differentiate yourself as both an outstanding player and outstanding student in order to get the attention and funding from big name universities.
Every young athlete reading this is probably stressed out and wondering what to do next. It’s not as complicated as you think. In essence, you must make yourself indispensable as both a student and an athlete. You must become an outstanding competitor and an above average academic. You must do the things others won’t and at times where no one is watching.
I heard a saying the other day. Every student wants an offer but not every student wants to lift weights at 6am, go to class from 9-3pm, attend practice 4-6pm and study from 7-9pm. This really encompasses what it takes to get to the next level. By setting up a routine and setting yourself apart, you become a competitor of the 2% of students hunting an offer. You become indispensable.
Tips for getting started:
1) Don’t wait for your final year to be discovered, start networking with coaches.
2) Make a tape of your best stuff (around 2-3 minutes of content) and upload it on YouTube for coaches to see (you can also email them your link).
3) Consider all division levels, there’s opportunity everywhere.
4) Set a routine every day for training, homework and practices.
5) Be ready to sacrifice social time.
6) Be consistent.
7) Have a good support circle.
7) Most importantly, trust yourself and enjoy the process.
Remember, you must be different than everyone else. You can’t afford to do the minimum work required. This means early mornings and sometimes late nights. While everyone else is out, you may have to stay in. When people leave early, you should stay late. Be the first to arrive and the last to leave. Reach out to coaches and introduce yourself when others are too frightened to do so. Set a year long plan and ensure you make specify targets along the way. In general, give yourself the best chance possible to succeed where others typically fail.
Scholarships are earned, not given. Ensure you earn your worth by doing the things others won’t. The rest will take care of itself. Being a high school student athlete is extremely stressful and many people can forget that. Not only do you have to work hard to get good grades, you must also balance training twice a day to improve your sport craft. Add on social pressures that naturally seem to follow being a teenager and you have quite the hectic lifestyle.
I can appreciate being young and trying to figure it all out but take advantage of your inner circle. It’s tough trying to make adult decisions at the ages of 15, 16 and 17 so confide in those you trust. Lean on them for support when things get rough and know that everything will work out. Stick to your routine, trust yourself and trust those closest to you to help you when you need it. Enjoy the process as tough as that may be. You’ll one day look back at it with pride and know that you were one of the few that gave up so much just for the chance at being apart of the 2 percent.
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Matrixx specializes in adolescent athletic development. He coaches some of the top athlete prospects coming out of high school in the Niagara region. He also works with dedicated members of the community who are passionate about improving personal fitness. Matrixx is also the author of The Iron Guide to Building Muscle.