• College-Bound Student Athletes

    The 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. Thus, continuing your athletic career in college requires planning across all four years of high school. Below is a comprehensive list of information and procedures that Susquehannock student athletes should know and/or consider if they’re contemplating doing a sport at the collegiate level. 

    Keeping The Student In Student Athlete

    All students that want to play a sport at Susquehannock High School must meet academic eligibility requirements. This is even more so for those students that desire to make the transition to play sports at the NCAA and/or NAIA levels. Therefore, it is important to remember that you are attending high school for an education first, not to play sports. Likewise, colleges are academic institutions held to strict standards and subject to penalties for not adhering to these standards. Therefore, colleges do not want a student athlete who cannot fulfill their part of the arrangement in the classroom regardless of whether they can make the big play or not. This is true in both high school and in college. Especially when there are a limited number of scholarships that schools can offer. 

    There are additional opportunities at the Division I-AA and II levels for partial scholarships but the competition for these awards is also fierce. While academic requirements also come with athletic scholarships, it is important to realize that you will strengthen your chances at getting a scholarship if you perform as well in the classroom as you do on the field/court because there are many more scholarships available for academics. In short, colleges recruit good students just as much as their sports programs pursue the best athletes. Give yourself the best chance at being able to select among different schools by earning the best grades that you can. 

    Planning Is Important!

    One major area of importance to the college bound athlete is selecting the correct courses to be eligible for the NCAA. Thus, you will need to make sure that you are signing up to take NCAA-approved courses each year. The NCAA reviews your course work and verifies whether or not you are eligible to play collegiately based on the number and level of courses you have taken. You can find out if your courses are NCAA-approved by going to this site and typing in SHS’ CEEB Code (391545) and looking at the list that will be displayed.

    The NCAA will conduct this review when you are registered with the Eligibility Center which you can do as early as your sophomore year. Registering with the Eligibility Center is required to play Division I (D-I) or Division II (D-II) sports but it does come with a fee so many students wait until their junior or senior year to register. If you need to review your status on eligibility, you can always meet with your counselor to find out further information concerning the number of core courses you have passed, your core GPA, and the resulting SAT or ACT score you will also need for eligibility purposes. There is a minimum grade point average and standardized test scores that you must achieve in order to be qualified.

    The above planning information relates to the course planning and success. However, it is equally important to plan a few other things while in high school as well. Below is a general timeline of things to consider besides course planning.

    9th Grade

    • Establish a four-year academic plan to meet all requirements for core course needed fore NCAA eligibility.
    • Maintain at least a 2.0 GPA at a minimum while taking academic level courses.
    • Play all sports that you have a strong enough interest in playing at the collegiate level in order to keep your options open.
    • Let your coaches, counselor, and Athletic Director know that you’re interested in trying to play at the collegiate level.
    • Try to attend camps to improve your sills.
    • Engage in weight training and conditioning efforts during the off-season to maintain your shape.
    • Record your athletic information on a resume; use film footage is eligible.

    10th Grade

    • Continue playing diverse sports if possible.
    • Continue to maintain at least a 2.0 GPA at a minimum while taking academic level courses.
    • Continue to engage in weight training and conditioning efforts during the off-season to maintain your shape.
    • If eligible, play in outside leagues and tournaments and participate in college showcases and other college recruitment venues to gain exposure.
    • Research colleges and athletic programs. Investigate and decide at what level you are interested in playing.
    • Record all athletic information on your athletic resume including information such as athletic camps attended, club teams, awards, measurables, statistics, positions played, and your academic information.

    11th Grade

    • Continue playing sports.
    • Continue to maintain at least a 2.0 GPA at a minimum while taking academic level courses.
    • Be sure to follow the Junior Checklist timeline.
    • Send a preliminary introduction letter to college coaches in the summer before the school year. Include an introduction, providing detailed information about your measurables, academic qualifications, personal statistics, awards, and honors. You should mention your desire for college competition, reasons for believing you can participate successfully, and your general reasons for wanting to go to that college.
    • Continue writing coaches with updated information throughout the year.
    • Continues to play in outside leagues and tournaments and participate in college showcases and other college recruitment venues. E-mail college coaches to inform them that you will be participating in a tournament, showcase, and/or camp.
    • Continue to update your information on your athletic resume; at this point be sure to compile recorded footage of yourself.
    • Call the college coach to make an appointment to meet with her/him if you are going to visit and interview at the college.
      • Coaches cannot return your call before July 1st.
    • Make unofficial visits to campuses to help narrow your choices. Let coaches know well in advance when you play to visit.
    • Send your recorded footage and game highlights only upon request from the prospective college coach.
    • Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center if you have not already.
    • Have your scores sent to the NCAA Eligibility Center.
    • Continue to engage in weight training and conditioning efforts during the off-season to maintain your shape.

     12th Grade

    • Continue playing sports.
    • Continue to maintain at least a 2.0 GPA at a minimum while taking academic level courses.
    • Be sure to follow the Senior Checklist timeline.
    • Be sure you are registered for the NCAA Eligibility Center!
    • Set up official and unofficial visits with college coaches.
    • Continue to be in contact with college coaches. Inform them when you will be competing in a tournament or play-off game.
    • Continue to weight train, condition, and play in the off-season.

     

    Understand The Commitment

    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 DI and DII 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 cannot 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 would be granted a scholarship because you have exceptional athletic ability and were recruited 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.