Beyond Athletics

Why Student-Athletes Should Choose the Right Friends

friends laughing at moments athletes can relate to
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(Flickr – Craig Cochrane)

We choose who we spend our time with based on a variety of factors.

Some friends are kind-hearted and good listeners. Others are the life of the party and always keep the crowd laughing. We spend time with some people because they’re on our team or in our class and are therefore friends by default, if you know what I mean.

Others have been our friends since childhood and we will always be connected to them.

The people you choose to spend your time with — that is, your friends — are usually a big reason you’re making it through middle school, high school, or college.

And they will be the people who help get you through the rest of life’s ups and downs, too. I can promise you that.

But what happens if you find yourself in a less-than-stellar position with your friends, (or “friends”)? (Or Mean Girls?)

What happens if, one way or another, you learn that the people you are spending your time with don’t have the same goals, character, or standards as you?

This can be a tricky position to find yourself in, and as a teen, you are in prime years for growing, learning, and getting to know the people around you and the way they are looking at their future.

When it comes to your recruitment, who you spend your time with matters. College coaches are paying attention to your conduct at school, with the law, on social media and all signs that shed light on your character.

Are the people you’re spending your time with helping you stay on track?

Athletes should choose the right friends.

Like it or not, we are judged by the company we keep.

That’s not to imply that all that matters is what other people think of us.

But when it comes to the impression you’re giving teachers, your coach, and college coaches based on who you are choosing to associate yourself, it with does matter.

Hanging around people who get in trouble at school and on the streets or are willing to risk their health or that of those around them for a thrill, a laugh, or “just for fun” are not people you can afford to let influence your reputation.

Why would you want to be giving precious time to people like that anyway? If you are a student-athlete with a serious goal and dream of playing at the next level, finding others who are willing to do what it takes to stabilize their future, too, are who you should be seeking out.

If you don’t choose the right friends, you risk getting judged by others’ bad actions.

This is a tough pill to swallow, but a reality that needs to resonate.

If you are at the party, but weren’t drinking, and the party gets busted, you are still busted. You were there.

If you are with a group of people vandalizing a neighbor’s home, but you never actually sprayed the paint or through the toilet paper roll, and the group gets caught, you will still be in trouble, too. You were there, with them.

The term “guilty by association” can and does hold water when it comes to the choices you make. As a student-athlete whose every move is going to matter when it comes to becoming a prospect for a college coach or being made an offer, if anything questionable is going to go down, stay at home, and stay away from the people making poor decisions.

Better yet? Tell your friends they shouldn’t go out, either. Coach Enquist recently wrote about why the student-athletes who most impress her are those who show courage. Read more.

Pick the friends who will affect your outlook and energy the right way.

On top of the risk of getting in trouble in school or with the law, the people we spend are time with are the people shaping our attitudes and influencing our energy in life.

Negative people make a pattern of doing negative things. Don’t let your hard work and positive gains get pulled from who you are because you’re spending too much time with people of the opposite mindset.

It’s simply not worth it, and it’s no way to be happy or thriving in life.

Seek out the like-minded, goal-oriented people around you, and stop making time for anyone willing to let that be taken away.


Don’t leave it to college coaches to know what kind of friends you pick, or what you stand for. Use your NCSA Athletic Recruiting to describe who you are as a person — and why you’d be a great fit on their roster. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

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About the author
Laura Chmiel

Laura Chmiel is a marketing coordinator and a lead writer for NCSA Athletic Recruiting. As someone with a passion for athletics and education, she graduated from Indiana university with a B.S. in Elementary Education. After school, she gained first-hand experience helping student-athletes and their families get to college.