During the recruiting process, and throughout your high school career, it is vitally important to remain focused on academics. After all, if you can’t get in to college, it’s going to be pretty difficult to play college sports… don’t you think? Even if you’re the best athlete in your area for a given sport, if you don’t get it done in the classroom you may not be eligible for many schools. But if your academic performance excels as it does on the field, it will open many doors. Good grades and good SAT scores can give you a great advantage over those who have not taken their academics as serious as they should have. Coaches do not need to take risks on poor students. It is too much of a headache for them to have to worry about your academic eligibility and put together a winning program. Given the choice between similarly skilled athletes, one who is a great student and one who is a mediocre student, almost every coach is going to go with the great student. Not only that, but scholarships are potentially decided on hundredths of grade point averages.
Unfortunately, too many student athletes cruise through high schools getting good enough grades to keep them athletically eligible. Then they cram for the SAT or ACT and try to ace the test to give them academic credentials. This just screams to coaches that you don’t take your work seriously. You would be wise to remember that academic eligibility for competing in college is far different than that required for high school. You can’t get a scholarship and compete for a college if you are unable to satisfy the eligibility requirements for not only the NCAA, but that particular school.
Also, you must remember that the better your grades and test scores, the more opportunities there are for you out there, in terms of finding a school to play for. Take NCAA Division III schools for example. DIII is considered the academic division of the NCAA, so much so that they do not give athletic money, only academic money. So, as a consequence, you must come in with good grades and good test scores to play for a division three school, or at least to get some scholarship money from a division three school.
Let me tell you a story that emphasizes this point. I had a client that was a good softball player. She had fairly decent grades but her test scores were lower than average. She had been through the program and was narrowing her list of schools, when she had the opportunity to visit a division three school that had shown some interest in her. She met with the coach, practiced with the team and took a tour of the school. In short, she fell in love with the school. The coach was so impressed with this player that she asked her to be her first commit of the recruiting class. The player loved the school so much that she agreed. Up to this point, this system worked just like it was supposed to. The player found the school that was her perfect fit. The only thing the player had to do was to get her test scores up. Her grades were such that she needed at least the national average on test scores to balance out the grades and gain entry. The player took the SAT two more times and could not raise her scores to any significant degree. When it came time to be admitted, the player was denied by admissions. The combination of moderately good grades and less than stellar test scores kept this player from attending a school that was a perfect fit! The coach called me, nearly in tears, telling me that if there was anything she could do – she would. She said that, any time this player could gain admittance to the school, she would have a place on the softball team. That’s how much the coach wanted her. So you can see how important academics can be! Don’t make the common mistake of believing your athletic prowess will get you to school regardless of your academics