College Sports: A Team Effort
he transition from high school to college sports is no small leap. Just like choosing a college, there are many factors that a student athlete must consider when deciding on a sports program and a coach. In addition, there are policies and procedures that a student must follow in order to be eligible for college athletics.
Keep the student in student athlete
The first thing that every student athlete needs to remember, before they dream of making the big play in college, is that they are attending a college for an education first not to play sports. In our world of multi million dollar athletes, product endorsement, and instant gratification, this notion does not get as much attention as it should, but lets take a hard look at the reality of the situation. Very few of the best high school athletes will receive scholarships to play sports in college, and there are a limited number of scholarships that colleges can offer. Of course there are additional opportunities at the Division I-AA and II levels for partial scholarships but the competition for these awards is also fierce. The good news is that there are many more scholarships available for academics then there are for sports and colleges recruit good students just as sports programs pursue blue chippers. Allow yourself the freedom of being able to select one of many colleges by earning the best grades you can.
Details, details, details
Unofficial visits, official visits, qualifier, non-qualifier, letter of intent, verbal commitment, red shirt, and walk-on are just a small sample of the jargon that accompanies your investigation into college athletics. There is a whole new vocabulary that you will need to become familiar with because of the policies and procedures that govern the recruiting process of student athletes. Some of these policies include a limit on the number of official visits to colleges and when recruiters can speak to students or even send letters.
One major area of importance to the college bound athlete is selecting the correct courses to be eligible for the NCAA clearinghouse. The NCAA clearinghouse form must be completed by all students planning to play division I, I-AA, or II sports. The NCAA reviews your course work and verifies that you are eligible to play sports in college. Also remember that there is a minimum grade point average and standardized test scores that you must achieve in order to be qualified.
Let the buyer beware
Playing sports in college is a major jump regardless of whether you are playing division I, I-AA, II, or III. The time commitment and the complexity of the game are two of the toughest things that freshmen have a challenge adjusting to. The commitment in college sports is year round especially in division I and II programs. There are mandatory study hours, travel time to consider, continuous off season workouts, and more. Asking several current players about the time commitment coach’s style of working with the players may provide you with some good honest insight into the program.
When speaking to college recruiters make sure you ask specific questions regarding your prospects of playing for that team, the coach, and your intended major. Be wary of people who can not provide any positive things to say about their opponents, or who can’t find fault in their own program. No matter how good a college or team may be, no one is perfect. If they are not willing to discuss their shortcomings, then what else are they hiding? Also, be careful of recruiters that promise you a starting position right away or a four year scholarship in writing. Again the NCAA governs many aspects of recruiting and a coach can only commit to a four year award verbally, not in writing.
At the highest level, athletics are just like a full time job that you have to balance with your primary role as a full time student. Remember as a scholarship player you are an investment in that teams success. You were granted a scholarship because you have exceptional athletic ability and were recruited to you to play sports and they will ensure that their investment has the best possibility of maturing into a significant contributor to their success. You have to seriously consider if you are ready to respond to this kind of pressure.
Before you sign any letters of intent to attend a college and play sports you need to find out all the details involved. What happens to your scholarship if you are injured and unable to play, what if the head coach leaves after your first year, what if you are red shirted and don’t want to play in your fifth year. The contract you are signing is serious business and all you wanted to do was play sports college.
Your parents and coaches are there to help guide you through the process but in the end, you have to make the decision. One question a student should be asking themselves is “Would I attend this school if I wasn’t playing a sport.” Also, read the NCAA’s Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete. This resource will be a great place for the serious student to start.
How good am I?
Your coach has been working with you day in and day out probably for the past couple of years. They spend a lot of time watching film, game planning, examining every detail of the sport they coach and you. They are the best person to speak to regarding your athletic ability and what level you will have the best chances of playing in college. Having a discussion with your coach and speaking about your strengths and weaknesses will help you be prepared when speaking to college coaches. It also demonstrates that you are serious and mature about continuing your athletic career after high school.
No matter what your coach, mom, dad, aunt, brother or sister may think of your talent the final decision regarding scholarships is left with the college coaches who scouts you. They will make the final determination of what their team needs, what your skills level is, and whether or not you fit into their program.
A team effort
Selecting a college is a difficult decision. Add to that the complications of having to decide where you would like to continue your athletic career and the situation can appear impossible. The good news is that you have the people around you that will help you make these decisions; your parents, coaches, and school counselor. A great way to start this process is by arranging a meeting with all involved. Everyone should be on the same page so that you are aware of your strengths and limitations and that they know your career, educational, and athletic goals. This process can be intimidating for a high school student, but with the support of the people around you the experience can be exciting and rewarding.
A final word
College and professional sports in recent years have not always exemplified the ideals that they claim are the invaluable benefits of athletic competition. Sportsmanship, teamwork, hard work, facing adversity, and modesty have appeared to take a back seat to excessive celebrations, trash talk, criminal headlines, and the “give me the ball mentality.” If you are looking to impress a coach I would suggest the following behaviors.
Say please and thank you, speak clearly, and practice your hand shake and smile when greeting people. Study hard and earn good grades. No knee injury can ever take away your education. Be respectful to your parents, teachers and other adults around you. It’s not only a sign that you respect them but also that you respect yourself.
Be modest and have a team first attitude while treating your opponents with respect by letting your play speak for itself. Do the best you can, no one can expect more.
Student Athlete Links
Campus champs has all the information a student-athlete needs to find a college, apply for admission, and get financial assistance.
National Christian College Athletic Association
Find Division I and II Christian colleges for various men’s and women’s sports.
College Sports Clearinghouse.com
Free data base assists students and coaches with locating one another and matching needs through e-mail. Site also has sporting news and team of the month.
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
National Junior College Athletic Association
Sport In Society
Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society.
Registration for College Athletics
Lebanon High School procedures are as follows:
- Any student planning on participating in college athletics at the Division I or II levels must register with the NCAA Clearinghouse.
- Pick up the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse form in the counseling office or you may also complete the form online. If you apply online please notify your counselor.
- Complete the clearinghouse form and write a check for the fee to the NCAA.
- Mail the original with a check to the NCAA.
- Give copies of your registration form to your counselor. At this time you must also request a transcript be sent to the NCAA. (The transcript will be sent out at the end of your junior year when grades have been posted). (Remember: if you have attended other high schools you must send a photocopy of the form to each high school you have attended).
You also must list on the ACT and SAT registration sheets that you want your scores sent to the NCAA. The code number is 9999.
It is best to turn in registration in the spring of your junior year.
Character Counts & Pursuing Victory with Honor
What is Pursuing Victory With Honor?
“Pursuing Victory With Honor” came about through the Arizona Accord Conference, where major sports and educational leaders met in Scottsdale, Arizona to discuss the ethical and character-building aspects of athletic competition, with the hope that the framework of principles and values set forth would be adopted and practiced widely. The Josephson Institute of Ethics, CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition and the United States Olympic Committee convened the conference on May 12-14, 1999. Invited to attend were 50 major sports leaders including Olympian John Naber, coaching legend John Wooden, NBC commentator Bob Costas, CIF Executive Director Jack Hayes, college and university presidents, collegiate coaches and athletic directors from major universities, Olympic coaches and athletes, representatives of the national sports media and national youth organizations.
The CIF unanimously adopted the principles of “Pursuing Victory With Honor” at its November 5, 1999 Federated Council meeting, consisting of educational leaders representing California’s 1263 high schools. The CIF and CCS recognizes the impact that high school athletics can play in society and is committed to the character-building goals of the program. In fact, the CIF felt so strongly about the 16 principles of the program that these have been made the operating principles of the organization.
Together, the CIF, the Sections and its member schools can change the very nature of high school athletics and bring back the character, sportsmanship, ethics and integrity that high school sports can instill..