Archive for the ‘From the Author’ Category

Ticket To A Better Education

Ask Crystal Smith, a high school track and field athlete from Wisconsin,
about the benefits of athletics, and she will tell you that college would have
been unaffordable were it not for her ability to throw the discus.
“I could have never afforded the $40,000-a-year tuition to Wagner
College,” confirmed Smith’s mother, Cindy. A single mother dedicated to
her daughter’s future, Cindy said that her daughter’s ability to attend college
was entirely a result of her participation in track and field.

According to the Department of Education’s National
Center for Education Statistics, the average student loan
debt among college seniors was a little over $19,000 in
2004. Today, 42 percent of college students graduate more
than $25,000 in debt, according to the Center for American
Progress, and graduate school students have nearly
$46,000 in debt. Adding to the financial stress, one-third of
graduates have more than $5,000 in credit card debt by the
time they graduate. Crystal admitted that she rarely thought of college while in high
school.

“Little focus was put on college, so I never realized how important
furthering my education could be,” she said.

Because Crystal excelled in discus, she earned a full scholarship to
Wagner College in Staten Island, New York. Smith is now a senior with
hopes of graduating on the horizon. After earning her bachelor’s degree in
chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry and minors in math and
biology, Crystal intends to earn a PhD in pharmacological sciences.

How many people in her hometown have a PhD in pharmacological
studies? She will be the first.

While undoubtedly inspiring, Smith’s story is certainly not unique.
Athletes who compete in Division I revenue sports like men’s basketball
also have been unsure of their path to getting an education. Jay Straight
grew up in the Robert Taylor Homes in the South Side of Chicago. During
this time, almost 100 percent of the housing development’s residents were
unemployed, and 40 percent of households were occupied by singlemothers
earning less than $5,000 each year.

Originally intended for eleven
thousand people, the homes’ number of occupants had expanded to nearly
three times that capacity. Gang violence and drug use were commonplace.
Fortunately, Straight was raised by his grandmother, who saw sports as
a way out of the impoverished life. From the time Straight was a young child,
his grandmother found opportunities for him to play, teaching him to ride
the bus across town to attend different basketball practices and clubs on his
own.

By the time Straight graduated from high school, he was among the
best scorers in the country. Recruited by Notre Dame, Marquette, Boston
College, Iowa State, and St. Louis, Straight chose to attend the University of
Wyoming, graduating from college in three and one-half years.
Today, Straight is a professional basketball player who had a seat in the
EuroCup. He has played for teams in Israel, Croatia, Ukraine, France, and
Poland.

“Not bad for a kid from the Robert Taylor Homes,” said Straight.

For kids like Smith and Straight, attending college is becoming more
and more of an obstacle, unless tuition costs are lessened by scholarships
and aid. The College Board, a non-profit membership association composed
of fifty-four hundred schools, colleges, universities, and educational organizations,
reports that despite an increase in tuition prices, federal student
aid is decreasing, making college seem out of reach for even children of
middleclass families.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the average sticker price for a
typical four-year university is about $16,400 a year—which includes room
and board, tuition, books, and ancillaries. The year-to-year increase in
college tuition and fees is outpacing the general inflation rate.

Aggravating matters, the normal public university student now takes more than six
years to graduate, which means the average public college degree is close
to $100,000. But when compared to the student-athlete average scholarship/grantsin-
aid package of $12,850 per year for those who attend public schools and
$21,266 for student-athletes attending private colleges and universities,
these tuition prices become within reach.

Why Sports? Learn to Be Gracious

Young athletes learn how to lose gracefully and win
graciously.

When I was in the seventh grade, I played on a basketball team
that was undefeated. We were on top of the world, a world we
thought was owned by our seventh-grade basketball team. No
one could beat us. I vividly remember my parents telling me
that they wished we would lose a game. At the time, I did not
understand.

Now I do. Eventually, we lost a game, ending the season
with a 39-1 record. Over the course of my life as an athlete, I
would go on to lose many, many more games. I learned that a
team can work and work and work and still lose in the end. I

learned that a seventh-grade basketball team doesn’t own the
world. I learned to take it one game at a time—that just as easily,
a winning team can become a losing team. I also learned to
respect my competitors, recognizing that regardless of a team’s
record, every competitor has his strengths and weaknesses.
No purer analogy for life’s victories and spills exists than
this.

Why Athletics?

1. Athletics help a child learn to deal with authority.
Imagine that a young college graduate enters the workforce.
Because academia was always his focus, this is his first experience
as a subordinate.

Though he is well schooled and
competent, he has questions about how to best fulfill the
responsibilities associated with the job. Fresh on the job, he
is not comfortable approaching his boss and admitting his
uncertainties. He has a brilliant idea about running the office
more efficiently, but he is worried about stepping on toes.
Should he approach his boss, or just toe the line?
Now imagine that “the dragon lady” hires the young man.
She runs a tight ship, demands much, and pays little. She is
quick to snap and unwilling to forgive. By the end of his first
week, the young graduate feels a tight knot in his stomach
each time he steps foot into the door. He wonders whether he
should confront his boss or toe the line.

Regardless of a student’s career choices, one thing is for
certain: At some point or another, an athlete will need to contend
with an authority figure without the safety net of Mom
and Dad. Joining sports presents an opportunity for students
to begin learning to take direction and to communicate with
all different types of authority figures. Similar to bosses,
coaches come in every size and shape. Some are intense and
direct; others believe in positive reinforcement. Some are fair
and righteous; others make mistakes often.
“Participating in sports allows a child an opportunity
to approach an adult and express himself,” said Venturi-
Veenema, the athletic director of Regina Dominican High
School in Wilmette, Illinois. “It’s hard for a child to approach
an adult and say, ‘I have a problem,’ but sooner or later, every
child is going to have a problem that needs to be addressed.
Why not allow him to do this in the safest environment? Let
him stumble in the double safety net of parents and a school
system so that later, when Mom

Athletes Wanted

As founder and CEO of the National Collegiate Scouting Association, my passion has always been to provide recruiting education for anyone and everyone who seeks it.  The mission for the last 25 years has been simple; ensure that every student-athlete, regardless of age, ability, or finances has access to the knowledge that will help them maximize their athletic scholarship potential.  That mission led to the creation of NCSA and its various educational parts (including this newsletter).

Now, I am proud to announce that I have recently finished writing my first book, “Athletes Wanted” – The complete guidebook to maximizing your child’s athletic scholarship and life potential. Athletes Wanted was born out of the idea that athletes are indeed wanted in all areas of society.  Athletes are not only wanted on college campuses to fill rosters, but also sought after by employers due to the unique skill set they possess.

Athletes Wanted includes:

- The NCAA bylaws that allow students to begin the recruiting process earlier than their competitors, even as early as the seventh or eighth grade.

- The five critical things an athlete must do and the five critical things an athlete must know to begin the process

- The biggest myths of the recruiting process

- The most important questions a student-athlete should ask a college coach

- The process for negotiating the best scholarship package

More than anything, Athletes Wanted provides a step by step plan for recruiting success that can be used by anyone.  I encourage you to read the foreword which was written by recruiting guru, Tom Lemming and also a preview of the book by clicking here.

Proceeds from Athletes Wanted will go to NCSA’s Educational Fund which will assist underprivileged student-athletes in their pursuit of collegiate athletics by defraying the costs of NCSA’s services.  Essentially, when you purchase a copy of Athletes Wanted, you will be allowing NCSA to provide recruiting education (like this newsletter and our educational workshops) nationwide for future student-athletes and families.

Writing this book has been a labor of love and symbolizes a culmination of all that I have experienced going through the recruiting process for the last 25 years.  If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Athletes Wanted, simply click here.  Thanks for your support!