PALM HARBOR, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Colleges are making contact with some student athletes as early as eighth grade. The scholarship money can equate to thousands of dollars, and then, if that leads to a professional career, you could be making millions. But there’s lots to know so the athletes aren’t left on the bench. There are strategies that could make the process a win-win for everyone. It’s game on for these high school girls. But the competition starts even before the first serve.
“I’ve been talking to Georgia State, Florida Atlantic University and Grand Canyon,” Renee Mussler, volleyball player at Palm Harbor University High School in Palm Harbor, Florida, said.
“Right now I have probably over 40 colleges I am talking to actively,” Kiana Chew, basketball player at Palm Harbor University High School, said.
Colleges want 15-year-old Abby Strong. But their courtship started when she was 13. “You have come to our attention as a potential LSU volleyball student athlete,” Strong reads off of a stack of college letters. “Dear Abby, hello from the University of Washington. Greetings from Indiana volleyball.”
With the stakes and competition this high, students and parents have to be on their game.
“If you don’t do your homework, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work out for you,” John Angelo, parent, said.
Athletic ability, of course, is key. But so is: researching colleges, taking college-bound academic courses and keeping your grades up.
“If they can offer you an athletic scholarship and an academic scholarship on top of it a lot of times you can get money back in your pocket,” Dexter Rogers, volleyball coach at Palm Harbor University High School, said.
Two-time Olympic gold medal softball player Michele Smith knows the recruiting game first hand, and now is passing along her experience and wisdom. “You have to be almost promoting yourself, writing to coaches saying ‘Hey this is who I am, this is what I can do. I love your program,’” Smith explained. “You can’t just be fishing. Throwing your hook out there and hoping a fish bites on it.”
But she also says don’t commit to a school too early and don’t just go for the school that offers the most money. “My biggest worry about that, is the same coach going to be there?” Smith asked.
Remember in this competition, it’s not just colleges doing the picking. In most cases, NCAA rules ban college coaches from “directly” contacting students before July 1st after their junior year. Parents say high school and club coaches are key allies to connect students with their network of college coaches. But, if you feel that the NCAA recruitment rules have been violated as a student athlete, parent or coach, report it to the NCAA public legislative phone number 317-917-6008.
Contributors to this news report include: Emily Maza Gleason, Field Producer; Amber Sumpter, News Assistant; Travis Bell, Videographer and Brent Sucher, Editor.