The athletic college scholarship world is an exceedingly large and complex world, and it is constantly evolving. In the second article in his four-part series, A. Andrew “Andy” Marwede covers why asking the coach is key in the athletic scholarship process.
If your child is one of the 10 or 20 best players in the country in their respective sport in their age group, the advice in this article doesn't necessarily apply to you. These practical suggestions are for the other 99% of high school student athletes who dream of obtaining an athletic scholarship.
My intention here is not to provide an exhaustive resource but rather to provide parents with helpful strategies based on my recent experience transitioning two of my children into Power 5 athletic programs. Parents who have a firm understanding of how the world of college athletic scholarships operates are better able to assist during the process and can even positively affect the financial value a child may receive if he or she is offered a college scholarship.
Ask the Coach
The athletic scholarship experience can be a very muddy/cloudy experience, but asking direct questions early and frequently can bring clarity to the experience for everyone involved: parents, students and coaches.
Ask a coach direct and candid questions. It may seem awkward at first, but all coaches appreciate the candor. It also shows that you respect their time.
Don't get hung up on whether it's your child or you who leads the conversation with a coach. No matter what people might say, it is certainly acceptable for a parent to speak directly to a coach (on the phone or in person) about scholarship and financial issues before a child is 18 years old.
Find out the likelihood of receiving scholarship money when a school has expressed some interest. To determine the chance of receiving scholarship money, you should ask the coach the following question: “Where is my child on your recruiting board by position and overall?”
Some academic majors are incompatible with high-level college sports commitments at certain colleges. For quite a few schools, nursing and architecture were incompatible with the school’s athletic schedules. Ask the coach for information about how that school accommodates certain academic majors within their sports programs.
The Importance of Game Film
Having varsity (or high-level club) game film is key. Schools consider other factors such as personal bests, height, weight, quickness, grades and test scores, but without varsity game film that shows an athlete competing or playing in varsity games, it is unlikely a student will be offered a scholarship.
Late bloomers are at a distinct disadvantage in the recruiting world. For women's soccer, an athlete should have varsity/high-level club game film from sophomore year of high school because that is when most of the top-level Division 1 women's soccer scholarships are offered. For football, most FBS scholarships are offered after the athlete's junior year of play. If a football player were to be injured just prior to that junior season and not have any varsity game film from that year, that athlete would only have varsity game film from the first two or three games of senior year to present for consideration for an athletic scholarship. And, if the athlete doesn’t play particularly well in the first two or three games, the college coaches will likely offer the scholarship to someone else.