Yesterday was signing day for many student-athletes around the country. It is an exciting day for all involved. These student-athlete's have worked extremely hard in their pursuit of collegiate athletics and making the decision of where to play at the next level is certainly not an easy one.
Double edge sword is the first phrase that comes to mind when I think about the college recruiting process. It is truly one of the most exciting times in a high school student’s life but can also be one of the most stressful. Throughout my years working in the high school setting, I have experienced student-athletes being recruited by top FCS and FBS football programs all the way to small Division 3 schools. Each presents its unique challenges, but there is a thread of similarity at all levels.
I love when student-athletes come back to visit after being away at the school of their choice. It allows me to talk with them about their experiences, and what they would change about their decision. In working with student-athletes who are making their decision, and talking with those who are reflecting on their collegiate athletics decision, I have pulled out these five common threads – things they either wish they thought about, or are thankful that they did. I hope this can help alleviate stress and provide clarity for those of you who are currently going through the process.
If I were no longer playing a sport, would I be happy at this school?
This is always my number one question when athletes come to me about their decision. I don’t love being the one to bring up the possibility of a career ending injury, or being recruited over, but hey, someone has to do it haha.
Specifics I like to talk about
Is this school an academic match for my future goals?
I remember a football kicker I worked with who was being recruited by several large Division One schools. He had many options available to him, but what led to his final decision was the quality of the business school at the institution he chose. I was very impressed with his awareness, and it is something I now bring up with my students. The kicker knew that his odds of making it to the NFL were pretty low, so he wanted to have a strong academic background to fall back on, in case the pros weren’t in his cards.
High profile program vs. smaller program
Would you rather be a part of a large, high profile Division 1 team, but not have as much playing time, or would a smaller school where you can play right away be a better fit?
There is nothing wrong with either option. It is perfectly normal to want to be a part of a large, well known and well respected program, even if it means less playing time, or no playing time. It is also completely okay to want to go to a smaller school because you know you want as much playing time as possible. This is a question that forces some students to be brutally honest with themselves. Yes, you may be getting looks from Clemson football, but you may never see the field until senior year – which is okay – but is it okay for you is the real question.
What is the alumni network like?
I like to ask about the alumni network for both the school as a whole, and your specific program. I know there are sport programs that bring back alumni to host career fair days for their current students, and who connect each graduate with a mentor in their area. There are other schools that have very strong alumni connections and networks that are available for everyone, not just athletes. On the other hand, there are some schools that offer little to no support for alumni, or connections to alumni for current students.
Transitioning out of athletics can be an extremely difficult experience. Being an athlete has made up much of your identity for a significant part of your life. You may not feel prepared or sure of where to go next. On top of the transition, you may have chosen a major that allowed for more time to focus on your sport, or that was interesting, but translate in to success in the job market. Having a strong alumni network to lean on can help ease this transition drastically. A strong alumni network can connect you to an alum who is willing to take you to lunch and talk about their field and their path, and it can also lead to job connections and offers.
Can my family make it to my games?
I ask this question because parents don’t like to haha. It may seem selfish when they ask it, but it is worth discussing. Most high school students are used to having someone from their support network watch them play often, and do not think about what it would be like for them to play in stadiums or arenas that their parents are not in. It can be an incredibly lonely feeling to watch your teammates connect with their families after games, while yours is hundreds of miles away.
While it may not be possible for your people to make it to as many games as they did in high school, are you okay with them missing an entire season? Are your home games within driving distance, or would your parents have to fly to games? Again, it is okay and perfectly normal if having your parents or others there is not a deal breaker for you, but it may be something worth considering.
In the end, no decision is final, and don’t let the fear of making the wrong decision force you to make no decision. You have worked extremely hard to get to this point, try and enjoy it 😊
What did you consider when choosing a college?
What other considerations did I miss?
Do you know an athlete who struggled with this process?
*this post is originally from my blog, Head in The Game on 6/11/2018.
What do you think of when you hear the words "Summer Reading"?
For most people, those two words may bring up lots of negative, unwanted memories, of summers spent avoiding books that they didn’t connect with, procrastinating on paper writing, or time spent reading books they didn’t want to when they could have been doing something they found more enjoyable.
This year, the school I work at is doing something different with our student summer reading assignments. We are letting the students pick their own book to read. We are hopeful this will not only change their view on summer reading, but also give us insight to who they are are people, a glimpse into their passions and personalities.
Helping students find books to read over the summer has been an enjoyable way to connect with them the last few weeks of school. I started to curate lists of titles that appeared to excite different students so I was prepared when the next walked in. Now that school is out, I wanted to create a list of books for you - parents, coaches, athletic trainers, athletes- in hopes of inspiring and connecting with you.
Each of these books impacted me in some way. Each served a different purpose in my life.
Author - Kate Fagan
If I had to pick one book from this list that I believe everyone should read, it would be this one.
I started listening to this book (audible is great you guys - get your first two books free!) on my commute to internship, and had to continue it on my walks with Roscoe because it resonated with me so much and I couldn’t wait to learn more. Madison was a runner at UPenn and died by suicide. By all accounts, she had it all, everything she had ever wanted, except for happiness. This book provides insight in to her life and the events leading up to her death, and how social media impacted Maddy and those close to her. It challenges the way we view mental health in athletics, and in society as a whole. I plan to use this book with future clients to let them know they are not alone.
Synopsis: If you scrolled through the Instagram feed of 19-year-old Maddy Holleran, you would see a perfect life: a freshman at an Ivy League school, recruited for the track team, who was also beautiful, popular, and fiercely intelligent. This was a girl who succeeded at everything she tried, and who was only getting started. (read more)
Author- Michele Borba
This book was suggested to me last summer by a highly respected colleague and I am so thankful. The author argues that empathy is the most important skill we can teach children in today’s world. Teaching empathy though, is no easy feat. It is something I try and instill in each student who sits in my Freshman Seminar classroom, but I am constantly at war with the world outside my four walls, a world that can be so terrifying, mean and the opposite of empathetic. Dr. Borba provides nine basic strategies that help children “navigate the emotional minefields and ethical challenges” they experience every day. This book focuses not only on the importance of the family system and dynamic inside the home, but also the influence schools can have on children. It is a must read for all those who play a role in developing children and adolescents, or who need a little help with empathy themselves.
Synopsis: Hailed as “an absolute must-read” (Jean Twenge) and a book that “will change your kids’ lives” (Jack Canfield), UnSelfie by Dr. Michele Borba explains what parents and educators MUST do to combat the growing empathy crisis among children today—including a 9-step empathy-building program with tips to guide kids from birth through college, and beyond. Teens today are forty percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. Why is a lack of empathy—which goes hand-in-hand with the self-absorption epidemic Dr. Michele Borba calls the Selfie Syndrome—so dangerous? (read more)
Author - Jess Lahey
The Gift of Failure was a faculty summer reading book a few years back and is one that I often refer back to. Lahey is an experienced middle school and high school teacher who has two teenagers of her own. In this book, she explains how letting children fail, and grow from the experience, is more important than helping them avoid failure. Lahey does a wonderful job of explaining to readers that even with the best intentions, doing things for children that they could do independently and helping them find success and avoid failure are cultivating a sense of dependence and blocking independence and competence.
Lahey does all this in such a human way. Instead of lecturing from a “better than thou” place, she puts herself right in the mix, as a parent and someone who has been guilty of these things often. I found this book valuable, even as someone who does not have their own children, because I, as a teacher/athletic trainer, often have the tendency to “rescue” my students thinking I am doing the right thing.
Synopsis: In the tradition of Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed and Wendy Mogel’s The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, this groundbreaking manifesto focuses on the critical school years when parents must learn to allow their children to experience the disappointment and frustration that occur from life’s inevitable problems so that they can grow up to be successful, resilient, and self-reliant adults. Modern parenting is defined by an unprecedented level of overprotectiveness: parents who rush to school at the whim of a phone call to deliver forgotten assignments, who challenge teachers on report card disappointments, mastermind children’s friendships, and interfere on the playing field. (read more)
Author - Ijeoma Oluo
I almost left this off the list. I wasn’t sure if it “fit” with parent’s, coaches, and athletes. But, if I think back on one book that has impacted me the most, this is it. In the world of Colin Kaepernick, and all of the conversations about sports and politics, I started to think it would be negligent to leave it off. This book provides insight in to hard to understand, unless you live it, topics surrounding race and goes deeper, talking about intersectionality, school to prison pipeline and cultural appropriation. Ijeoma Oluo starts each chapter with a challenging, sometimes uncomfortable question, such as, "Why do you think black people are poor? Do you think it's for the same reasons that white people are?" Each question is followed by valuable information that equips the reader to answer, or at least feel comfortable talking about, the question. So You Want To Talk About Race will give you, as parents, coaches, teachers, counselors and influential people, the resources and ability to have challenging, but rewarding and necessary conversations with your children.
Synopsis: In So You Want to Talk About Race, Editor at Large of The Establishment Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the "N" word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities (read more)
Author - Jon Gorden
The Energy Bus is different than the other books on this list because it is written as a story, a fable of sorts. George, the main character, is having a hard time at home and work. After his car breaks down, he is forced to ride the bus to work and ends up with Joy as his bus driver. Joy helps her riders recognize and understand principles of success that affect every aspect of their lives. This book is a quick read that provides 10 easy to implement, and effective strategies. I appreciated this book because it was written in a manner that allowed me to easily teach these strategies in an understandable way to my students and clients.
Synopsis: The Energy Bus, an international best seller by Jon Gordon, takes readers on an enlightening and inspiring ride that reveals 10 secrets for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment - at work and at home. (read more)
*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. I may receive a small commission on purchases. This does not change the cost of the purchase, and occurs at no additional cost to you. I would never recommend products or books that I didn't truly believe in.*