Recruiting Column: The top five Christmas gift ideas for high school athletes

Recruiting Column: The top five Christmas gift ideas for high school athletes

Recruiting Column

Recruiting Column: The top five Christmas gift ideas for high school athletes

USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from Fred Bastie, the owner and founder of Playced.com. Playced.com is an industry leader in college recruiting.  Their technology based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and their recruiting experts provide a recruiting experience that is backed by a money-back guarantee.

Christmas is next Monday!  Yikes, only 5 shopping days left! It’s way too late to shop online and that means we all have to finish Christmas shopping the old-fashioned way. I’ve heard all the rumors that online shopping is replacing “real-live shopping”, but based on my Christmas experience so far this year, I don’t believe it. As best I can tell, the traffic, the crowds and the road rage all seem to be about the same as they’ve always been. That said, despite all the stress and hassle, the Christmas season remains my favorite time of year. I love the music, the decorations and the reason we celebrate this holiday.

OK, so here’s the tie-in with Christmas and college recruiting. If you’re a high school athlete, there’s one thing that might be on your Christmas list that Santa doesn’t have, and you can’t buy at a store either. That would be a college scholarship. Unfortunately, Santa doesn’t give out scholarships and Walmart doesn’t carry them in inventory. College coaches are in charge of the scholarship dollars and no coach is going to hand you a scholarship without a little effort on your part. You won’t get a scholarship offer based on a conversation, a highlight video, or a quick review of your statistics.  Scholarships are earned on the field and in the classroom. And, the right college scholarships are found by athletes who are proactive and persistent.

For that reason, you’re better off asking for a list of items that will help with the recruiting process than asking for the scholarship itself. Here are five gifts that would fit on that list.

1. A list of the colleges that recruit players like you

A list of colleges to contact would be the #1 item on my wish list if I were a high school athlete. Identifying the right colleges to pursue is the most difficult and time-consuming step in any recruiting process. If you aren’t a fit on a coach’s roster, then you can forget about being recruited by that school. For that reason, you need an honest, objective evaluation of how you stack up with other athletes in your sport. Ask your current coach for that evaluation and be ready to accept his or her opinion. Then target schools that “match” that evaluation.

Many athletic scholarships have been derailed by the college admissions office. Not every student-athlete is cut out for Harvard or Princeton and that’s okay. Just make sure that in addition to athletic ability, your GPA and test scores meet the academic standards at all the colleges you might consider.

2. An administrative assistant to help with the recruiting process

Wouldn’t it be great to have an assistant to handle all the organizational and administrative tasks related to the recruiting process? Well, I bet you have one living at your house. Ask your parents! I know they’ll be happy to help whether it’s on your Christmas list or not. Here is a short list of administrative tasks parents can do to help their student-athlete land a college scholarship:

  • Help organize the process
  • Provide input on college budget
  • Develop a college recruiting timeline
  • Proofread emails and correspondence (not to edit, just to make suggestions)
  • Help you understand the college recruiting rules
  • Keep you focused on realistic colleges

Having a personal administrative assistant will make your recruiting process a lot easier. In fact, I’d sign your parents up for that role right now. 

3. A coach who is willing to help

A coach who is willing to help can be the difference maker in an athlete’s recruiting journey. Your current coach is easily the most credible source to provide information on your athletic abilities, work ethic and character. If your current coach speaks highly of you, then college coaches will most likely listen.

You really shouldn’t have to include this on your Christmas list because I hope you’ve already laid the groundwork for what your coach might say to an interested college coach. If you aren’t sure what he or she will say, that might be a problem. You better fix that situation now, because it’s almost a certainty that any interested college coach will be contacting the coaches you play for now. 

4. Good grades and test scores

Your academic resume plays a big part in your recruiting journey. Here’s why:

  • College coaches will always pick the better student when trying to decide between two athletes of similar abilities.
  • The more schools you qualify for academically, the more colleges you can consider athletically.
  • You must maintain a minimum GPA in your NCAA Core Courses to compete at the Division I level.
  • Good grades and test scores may qualify you for academic money and/or in-state tuition, thereby saving the athletic department scholarship dollars.
  • Good grades and test scores are an indication of a student’s work ethic and achievement standards.

Unfortunately, adding good grades to your Christmas list probably won’t do much good, so if you’re concerned at all about your academic record, you need to hit the books now. Actually, you might want to just add an SAT or ACT review course to your list. 

5. A short memory

Finally, a short memory would be a great gift for any athlete. Everyone makes mistakes and college coaches know that. You have to forget about the last mistake and make the next play. Your reaction when you give up a goal, miss a layup or strikeout tells so much more about you as a player than the mistake itself. Do you throw a fit, or forget about the last play and focus on the next one? Make the next play and the one after that. Great athletes play with confidence and have a short memory.

Here’s the deal

The above list includes some great items to help you find that college scholarship; however, if you don’t receive all of them just know that they are all things you can accomplish on your own.

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Recruiting Column: The top five Christmas gift ideas for high school athletes
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