Bob Chimel, a traveling spokesman for the National Collegiate Scholarship Association and former high school coach and football coach at University of Michigan and Notre Dame, says there are three points that are most important for preparation of a scholarship.
1. Great Character First: good citizen in community, service at a homeless shelter.
2. Good academics — recent grades are the most important.
3. Always play hard and give it your all (be around the ball and play at the finish line — have a great motor). Never be a spectator. Play your heart out.
Do everything humanly possible to get information about the scholarship process. If you are competitive, find the level that you can play at … and prepare for scholarship play at that level. Don’t dream about being a walk-on at Division One if you are not able to play at that level. That doesn’t mean you can’t dream and visualize about improving and becoming capable of Division One play or professional play one day. But you must know the difference between improving your athletic capability and targeting and preparing for your athletic scholarship.
Start early. It is never too early to start to prepare for an athletic scholarship. If you start too late, there are some colleges that will pass you by. Colleges can write student athletes as freshmen and sophomores.
20,0000 for 119 Division One football programs — only .8% of students get Division I football scholarships, but there are over 800 available colleges when you consider all colleges available. Student-athletes need to have a Plan B. Pick schools that have what you need academically — a school that you would pick if you were not an athlete.
Your first conduit is your high school coach, but your high school coach is not responsible for getting you a scholarship. Work to get interaction with potential colleges. Practice interacting with coaches so you are not nervous when you are talking to coaches. All-Conference and All-State athletes are not guaranteed Division One scholarships. College coaches look at tapes that have reliable sources attached. Be interactive. You need your student-athlete to have strong, positive interaction with your own coaches and prospective colleges coaches.
Chris Krause, founder and president of NCSA, says his company has a database of about 30,000 college coaches, that helps coached find qualified student athletes. Aspiring student-athletes are also given a game plan to market their talents to college coaches. NCSA’s Fast Track program has a database of 100,000 student-athletes, including a virtual tryout with videos of student-athlete performance. Fast track also lets NCSA know what videos coaches are watching. NCSA only enrolls qualified student-athletes — a feature appreciated by college coaches.
Jack Renkens, founder or Recruiting Realities, speaks for NCSA on recruiting realities. Remember, only point 8 percent (.8%) get Division I scholarships. If you (as a junior) don’t get a phone call by May 1st from a Division One school, you are not a Division One prospect. It doesn’t matter if you have received a lot of mail from Division One schools. If you aren’t getting a phone call, you are not a Division One prospect. Parents make a mistake when they blame coaches.
Human coaches teach, but they don’t have the time and budget to contact college coaches for you. Parents have to market their own student-athletes, but let their student-athletes interact with coaches of prospective schools on their own. Don’t live vicariously through your student athlete. ‘We Get’ calls are the recruiting industry term when Dad calls and says ‘we are visiting a school’ and ‘we think my son is a quarterback’ or ‘a linebacker’ or ‘a shortstop.’
Be supportive of your high school coach at all costs. Don’t forget about your high school coach. You still have to partner with your high school coach, so you must maintain a positive relationship with your high school coach. Just because high school coaches don’t talk to college coaches and scouts like a hired gun for your student-athlete, doesn’t mean they aren’t communicating with college personnel. High school coaches might get calls and requests from college personnel. High school coaches might be friends with college personnel. They might have once worked together or they might have gone to school together years ago. Communication between college and high school coaches is still very much a reality. Their network is a strong network. Don’t focus on being demanding toward the coach. Focus on selling and marketing your student athlete to the coaches at all levels. Avoid any gossip with other parents. All sorts of rumors about coaches are spread by parents. And rumors about your student athlete may have detrimental effect. Listen very carefully at games in the bleachers, but be very careful about what you say and in about what conversations you are participating. Remember other parents and their student-athletes may be competing for the same scholarship dollar. It is an exciting and dynamic environment because you are working together as a team, but some student-athletes may be competing with each other for the same position on a team or for a scholarship at the same college.