By Charles Proctor
Dear coaches and parents of athletes, please start being brutally honest with your wonderful athlete about his or hers athletic ability, because if you don't I can promise you the recruitment process will and I can't guarantee that your little bundle of joy can handle the truth that is coming their way. Honest hour....... Everyone is not next level material and that's ok. Yes we know that you have been running track since you were five years old and have a few medals hanging on your wall and your mother has called you her little Olympian since you won the 100m at your local AAU meet. Unfortunately that means ABSOLUTELY nothing to your dream school or the other athletes that you are competing against for these scholarships.
I posted a message on Twitter the other day that created a nice dialogue between coaches and athletes. The message read "yes there is a school for everybody but, every school isn't for everybody. Coaches and parents let's start being more honest about a child's athletic ability. Clemson isn't coming for your child that can't make the midlands list"! Which is the reason why I am writing this open letter to you all. The fact is that most people are not educated on the many nuances of the recruiting process.
A huge decision that has to be made on your part is coming to terms with where you land in the hierarchy of athletes in your sport/event. The great thing about track and field is our ranking system is based solely off of performance. Not film, not some recruiting service that you paid for to boost your name, either you ran 10.55 or you didn't (100m rankings). NO if ands or buts about it. Every college and or university that you would like to attend has a website that usually has their recruiting standards listed. Super easy, compare your PR's to the listed times and see if your talent would even warrant a phone call from this institution.
What I'm seeing more and more these days is that many athletes, parents and even some coaches are either delusional or refuse to except the fact that the athlete just isn't as good as you would like them to be. Take a step back and see where you rank amongst the kids in your district, then look at your city, then the entire state. Now ask yourself, are you just the best kid at your school, are you only making it to the region championship or are you an actual contender in your event at the state meet? As of now you should have a pretty good handle on where you rank amongst your peers in your state now multiply those numbers because when it comes to collegiate scholarships you are now competing against kids from all over the world!
Unless you are elite in your event and for the sake of understanding let's just say elite is hitting the marks to qualify for the championship division at New Balance Outdoor Nationals .Unless you are hitting these marks you are a dime a dozen type athlete which narrows the type of school that would possibly recruit you. Too often I hear about the kid that is "waiting" on the big offer. News flash the big power 5 offer isn't coming if you haven't put together power 5 type marks. Yes I know you're a state champion but you're also a state champion in an event that is weak and in a sub-par division. Remember you're not only competing against people in your state but the surrounding states as well.
Too often we see the kids that turn down offers because they feel like they're BIGGER than the school that is willing to help pay for their education in hopes that the dream school will come around. Guys and gals you're only as good as the results you produce, and the type offers you receive or don't receive directly reflects this. You've dreamed of being a Gamecock your whole life but many times our dreams and reality don't meet unless you're willing to change the dream. No, the 10.87 100m sprinter isn't being offered by USC or any power 5 for that matter but a school at a lower division would love to have you on their campus and that is where your dreams meet reality. Remember the goal has always been to be able to continue your athletic career at the collegiate level and use your athletic ability to help pay for your education. Athletes you have to stop hindering this from happening because of some false sense of entitlement that you have for some unforeseen potential. Whether it's Division 1, 2, 3 NAIA or JUCO the goal remains the same, use your athletic ability to pay for your education.
There are very few scholarships that each program is allotted every year and there are millions of young athletes competing for the same few spots so the likely hood of you securing an athletic scholarship is very slim. So if you are not a contender at your state meet the reason for not being recruited isn't blamed on anything other than your ability. So going back to the twitter message that started all of this, coaches and parents let's start being real with our athletes. Coach when that 49 second 400m sprinter comes into your office and wants you to call your local power 5 school don't brush them of or tell them a lie about how you contacted the school. Sit him down and explain why you won't call them because he hasn't hit their standards but, then educate them on some lower level schools that he could possibly compete at and receive money. Coaches, let's be more proactive with educating not only our athletes but, the parents of these athletes about the different divisions within the NCAA and normalize the recruitment at all levels. Let's give the same praise for the kid that signs NAIA as we do to the kid that signs power 5.