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GUERILLA FITNESS: College recruiting misconceptions

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Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of columns by Samford University pole vaulter Michael Seaman focusing on college recruiting and general fitness.

 

Being a 2007 Bardstown High graduate, I easily recall the small town gossip about Bardstown, Bethlehem and Nelson County high school athletic recruits.

In particular, I remember some spectacular athletes who never attempted to take their talents to the next level. With roughly 1,200 NCAA member schools stretched across the country and around 14 in our Bluegrass state, there is no reason local athletes can not participate in NCAA athletics, and more importantly, earn scholarships to help pay for higher education in the process. 

After going through the recruitment process I signed with the University of Tennessee for a small scholarship, then transferred to Samford for a full scholarship. With these schools I have witnessed several recruits come and go at both institutions. It has been my conclusion that the reason there are not more local athletes currently in NCAA athletics is because of the general public’s ignorance regardsing the recruiting process.

Unbeknownst to many, athletic recruits can market and promote themselves in a variety of ways. Communication is key in this process, and there are several ways to gain interest from college coaches. However, there are hoops you must jump through, and work that needs to be done by the athlete. There is a program for most athletes who want to pursue an athletic college career. One place to start is the general misconceptions about getting recruited.

 

• Misconception No. 1 — Only the top athletes are actively recruited by college coaches. This just is not true. Top programs (ex. schools in the SEC) are looking for the country’s best athletes, however they are also interested in well-balanced student athletes and diamonds in the rough.

Outside of the SEC there are several conferences and smaller schools with scholarships waiting for a signee. Oftentimes the coaches at smaller schools do not have the time or budget to search the country for top recruits, they are waiting for you to contact them. After pole vaulting in the SEC and now competing in the Southern Conference, I am convinced that there is a program for every athlete who has the desire to pursue a collegiate athletic career. There are also scholarships available to fund your education if you go out and earn them. High school athletes often miss out on these opportunities because they do not recruit themselves to programs. 

• Misconception No. 2 — All athletes signing with NCAA schools are getting full scholarships. This is a rarity, and is usually not the case. Some do, however, such as NCAA D1 football, basketball, and most women’s sports … lucky girls!

Often you will gain scholarship due to performance after you are there. I am very familiar with track and field, and scholarships can be weighed on performances which can be compared to your teammates and those in your conference. Choosing the right school can play a great deal in the athletic scholarship money you will receive.

• Misconception No. 3 — Colleges will recruit you and after they show interest, your work is done. Again like the others, not so true. There are many things you must do before you are enrolled taking the classes and attending daily practices.

You will be constantly evaluated and asked on a recruiting visit. On this visit you must not only impress the coaches but your prospective training partners as well. Also, an athlete will have to be academically accepted to the institution (luckily for the athlete the standards might not be as high as the average applicant). The NCAA also has its own eligibility requirements that each and every student athlete must abide by. Begin educating yourself on the requirements at www.ncaa.org

 

The average high school student athlete is subject to these misconceptions, which often leaves them aggravated and not recruited. Ultimately, individuals can affect their own recruiting experience, and there is a program for most high school athletes that want to take on the challenge.

 

Michael Seaman is a pole vaulter for Samford University and a former Kentucky state champion while competing for Bardstown High School. E-mail him at mseaman@samford.edu.