What does it take to be a successful student-athlete in College? First, you have to understand this is much more than being a really good athlete with a killer crossover dribble, a blistering 40 time, a powerful serve, or a great ‘short game’ in golf.
It is about being a student-athlete. Two words. Student and athlete. You can be a minor league baseball player and be an athlete. You can go hoop it up at the Rec Center and be an athlete.
Just because a kid is All Conference two years in a row in High School does not mean they will be a successful College student-athlete, or even get into College. Sure, it’s a major indicator of the ability to have athletic success at the next level, but there are so many other factors that you have to think about as you go through the recruiting process. Here are six:
1) What are your time management skills? As the father of a current N.C.A.A. student-athlete I am hearing on a regular basis from him how critical it is that he manage his time well. You have to be disciplined from the very start. Time management skills are critical.
2) Can you handle the fact that when you do play at the College level, everyone is good and suddenly you may feel like a 9th grader again. After signing you, your College coach will hug you and promptly leave to recruit someone better than you. College athletics, especially at the high levels, is intense. That’s a good thing. It prepares you for life and the curve balls ahead. This ain’t T Ball where everyone gets a hug and a trophy. College coaches take a lot of pride in what they do and they care deeply about their programs and traditions. Be ready to match that, or consider going to College as a regular student and doing Club or Intramural sports. Going from being High School King or Queen Athlete to suddenly facing a 22 year old 5th year senior demoralizes some kids.
3) What choices will you make? I once heard a speaker say, ‘We are not born winners. We are not born losers. We are born choosers. The choices we make determine if we will be winners or losers.’ What choices will you make on a daily basis regarding the people you surround yourself with and what your are doing on a regular basis to become a better person. Are you going to mess around on Facebook or are you going to get your academic responsibilities done?
4) Do you get that this is about using your God given athletic skills to receive a top education and to become an Athleader where you go on and help others as a leader. If you have multiple credible sources telling you that you have the chance to be a professional in your sport, then it is fine to pursue the pro dream, but for 98% of you it is about getting an education, learning how to network, and developing the life skills that will make the next 40 years of your life successful.
5) Do you understand the meaning of the word ‘Commitment?’ Being a true College student-athlete means commitment. I was once driving a car pool of very good High School distance runners and I asked the best runner of a huge High School if he was going to run in College. He said no because he realized the commitment and he wanted to focus more on being a regular student. He said it in a way where he had great respect for the commitment that runners have at the College level, and he was not ready to match that commitment.
I chuckle especially at so many High School football standouts that make multiple commitments to Colleges before deciding. I really get a charge out of the ones that will commit to signing with one school but then say they will continue to visit other schools. That’s like telling a girl that you want to be engaged, but would like to see other girls up until the wedding. Think that would fly?
Many young people today (and I never make blanket statements because there are many kids that are on top of things) do not understand the world commitment. Some don’t have a clue. Sadly, more and more are getting into the entitlement era. To quote Lou Holtz: “Nowadays people only worry about their rights and privileges,40 yrs ago they worried about their obligations and responsibilities.”
6) Do you have ‘the fire within.’ I have delivered a motivational talk entitled Stoke the Fire Within around the world. It is based on my firm belief that in studying peak performers for many years that the common thread in their success is having a fire within them to constantly seek excellence and to never be complacent. As Holtz says, if what you did yesterday seems important then you haven’t done anything today. I recently was on the island of Curacao where I delivered the Stoke the Fire Within presentation before 1500 people, and then did a separate Talk on the recruiting process and NCSA’S message of Athleadership. In the audience for that Talk was a young lady who plays tennis. During the entire Talk she was leaning forward listening intently to every word I said about recruiting. I could almost see fire coming out of her. I could tell she had that fire…that determination to reach her dream of being a College student-athlete. You have to have the academics, character and athletic ability, but having the fire within and the ability to keep it stoked, is critical.
Having the fire within does not always mean you are like Tim Tebow, whose fire is clearly evident. It can mean a burning determination within to be the best you can possibly be regarding peak performance, teamwork, and helping others. It means you are committed to excellence. I once had a long sit-down interview with Pat Riley, the architect of the Miami Heat. He said, ‘Charlie, excellence is the gradual result of always striving to be better.’
That is the fire within.
There are many things to consider before becoming a true student-athlete at the next level. These are six important ones, but there are more. Many parents and athletes are not aware of some of the most important facts, and therefore fail in the process. That is why it is important to talk with a College Scout, a former athlete or coach, to thoroughly go over these things. Do not be what so many families are when it comes to getting scholarships for their young people at College – they are unknowingly passive participants in the recruiting process because they don’t know what to do and when to do it….
To bring an Educational Speaker to your community, School, Club, Banquet or special event, contact Amanda Rawson at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Charlie Adams is a longtime motivational speaker and author of the book Stoke the Fire Within. As the father of a College student-athlete, he is a strong believer in NCSA’S message of Athleadership. Adams has written hundreds of articles on the recruiting process and about how families find the right fit for their daughter or son at the next level. He was a Sportscaster across America for a quarter of a century. During that time he interviewed thousands of coaches and athletes at all levels of College athletics, and attended over 3500 College games and practices at the D1, D2, D3, NAIA and Junior College level)