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THE SCHOLARSHIP OFFER! What is the answer to the million dollar question—what can I do to put myself in the best position possible to get a collegiate athletic scholarship? Instead of starting this “how-to” at the very beginning with Step #1, I will start at the end, the moment that you are working so hard to get to! We’re starting at the moment your phone rings, you answer it and the coach at your dream school says, “Hey, are you ready??? We’d love for you to be a part of our family! I was calling to offer you a scholarship… what do you say?”
First and foremost, scholarship offers are EARNED—they are not GIVEN. There is no promise or guarantee that a coach will offer you a scholarship, and it’s definitely a process that will take you on an emotional roller coaster. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry… heck, you may even pee your pants as one recruit did during my time helping coordinate official visits! Before you get too deep in the process I just want you to respect the fact that scholarship offers are EARNED and that you are going to have to prepare yourself to go out there and be in the best position to “earn it!” So here we go…
Nothing is remotely official until a school gives you a written or verbal scholarship offer, preferably a written one! You may be getting a ton of cards, emails and Twitter DMs but a coach must give you an OFFER for you to know that they are 100% interested in you. If they haven’t offered you a scholarship or tried to get you to campus for a visit (Unofficial or Official), they’re not completely sold on you yet. They may be calling you or sending you mail but they’re still just keeping an eye on you… they’ve heard about you somehow and are starting their research on you!
To many high school players, it seems as if teammates and other players in the area are getting new offers every day, that they just fall from the sky for everyone else. Understand that coaches put a LOT of time and research into making the decision to pull the trigger and offer a player a scholarship. In most cases, they’ve scouted your video, watched you in person at multiple games, discussed it as a staff in depth and have been making calls to their sources in your area to find out more about you as a player and student and more importantly, as a person. They have evaluated your strengths, weaknesses, attitude, coachability, where you fit into their style of play and if you can get into school academically.
They ask themselves, “Do we have a shot with any other players who are more talented?” (Hey, you wanted me to be honest, right? That’s what they’re thinking.)
The highest compliment a school can give you is to offer you a scholarship, so be very appreciative of the achievement. This means that they see something in you that they believe in- believe me, they’ve done their homework! By the end of the process, you just need ONE coaching staff to believe in you, not 50! So when that moment happens, appreciate it!
It’s also important to understand that even if you’ve made a national or statewide Top 100 recruiting list, that doesn’t mean that every college and university will automatically offer you a scholarship. Coaches will be extra diligent in their research, no matter how many ranking lists you are on. The only ranking that they care about is their OWN evaluation of your play, not what every internet blogger thinks!
Most head coaches want someone on their staff to see you play in person before extending the scholarship offer, and they usually prefer to see you play in person for themselves as well. If the head coach isn’t able to get there to see you play, they often send a second assistant coach out to cross-check the first coaches’ evaluations and what your highlights and game film showed. The coaching staff will discuss your abilities and attitude with your prep coaches, coaches who you regularly play against, family and their trusted sources in your area to determine if you are truly the real deal before they extend the offer!
It’s important that you never put an expiration date on your dream of getting a scholarship or the chance to play college sports. Too often, players get frustrated early in the process and don’t go FIND their opportunities. Life happens for those people who go out and MAKE it happen! Always have faith in yourself, work hard every single day and stay positive while working towards that big chance! I’ve worked with several coaches who offered players a scholarship just days or hours before Signing Day. Rosters and commitments from other players are fluid – understand it’s an unpredictable process, that nothing is final and to be patient! There are plenty of Plan B’s, Plan C’s and Plan D’s that can keep your dream of playing college sports alive!
The recruiting process has the power to turn some players into monsters, and others into an insecure, miserable mess. I’m here to tell you to RELAX… STAY POSITIVE… and HAVE FUN!
If you aren’t an internet sensation with 50 offers to pick from, understand that you just need ONE! You just have to find that ONE coach who will believe in you and give you a chance!