Looking for a Sports Scholarship?
How to Navigate the Minefield to the Pitch or the Pool
The ongoing excitement of the Olympic Games has undoubtedly got youngsters all over the world keen to try out a host of new sports for themselves. If you are up and running with a sport already, you might consider applying for a sports scholarship to help you meet the rising costs of a US college degree. A perfect example of the benefits of earning a good degree while still enjoying the sport you love is that of Missy Franklin. The 17-year-old Olympic swimming sensation has to date refused any endorsements or prize money so she can retain her amateur status and continue to swim in college.
According to Athletic Aid there is over $1 billion in sports scholarships available to talented athletes each year. That is not to say it’s a sure thing. You might be the most talented player on the pitch or the fastest swimmer in the pool, but you have to be smart about applying for a sports scholarship. You have to be noticed and it pays to do it early. Tiger Woods is said to have first contacted Stanford University at the tender age of 12. That doesn’t mean all hope is lost if you are starting your senior year this fall and haven’t got moving yet, but it does mean that you have some work to do. Throughout the year, the sports scholarship calendar goes through periods that range from quiet to completely hectic. There are times when contact between coaches and athletes are allowed and others when it is not. Knowing the difference can stop you making serious errors in judgement which could ultimately cost you dearly. Summer can traditionally be a fairly busy time and a time when you can step up to the plate and get on coaches radar if you haven’t already. Aside from taking every opportunity to improve in your chosen sport and preparing for your final year at high school, you should be looking to make some unofficial visits to colleges you are interested in. Coaches will be making calls to those students about to enter their final year and generally kick starting the new recruiting season.
It’s undoubtedly a minefield with a whole pile of rules and regulations to wade through. You can make life easier for yourself and make sure you get things right first time by getting hold of the 2012-13 Guide for the College-Bound Student Athlete from the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association). You might consider this your bible explaining how to get a sports scholarship. Published every year, it explains the NCAA rules and the entire recruiting process in detail including allowed coach communications, official visits, academic guidelines, timelines and more. In short, you won’t get far without it. Even if you are still in your junior years at high school, this guide is useful for both you and your parents or carers as it lets you know what to expect in coming years and helps you be prepared and get ahead of the game. You can also get vital information from the NCAA Eligibility Center.
There are more than 1,000 universities and colleges that offer student athletes some level of opportunity to play sports at college and have their tuition fees paid either partially or in full. If you want to be in with a chance of a full ride, the golden rule is not to wait. Do it now.