Help Your Child Live His College Sports Dream
By janis on Oct 14, 2013

college aveSo your kid wants to play in college? Many athletes aspire to join him, shooting for the highest star: Division one collegiate sports. And although it does happen for many athletes, the chances are very slim.

Let’s look at the facts for Division One athletes:

  • 3% of high school basketball players play division one
  • 5.7% of football players
  • 6.1% of baseball players
  • 1.7% of volleyball players
  • 10% of hockey players
  • 5.2% of soccer players

Not too hopeful, is it?

On the other hand, I believe we should let our kids dream big when they are small. It will probably become clear by the time your athlete is a junior in high school–or even sooner–if he or she has division one potential.

My daughter, who’s played softball since she was 7, entered high school with dreams of college softball in her head. We were pretty naive about the whole recruiting process, so we went to an informational recruiting meeting held at her high school.

I only remember one thing they said that night and it was this: “If your child really wants to play in college, and is willing to go anywhere, then there’s a good chance he can play.”

For my kids, it meant playing Division 3 sports at a college in Illinois when we lived in California. For some athletes it may mean playing on the junior college or NAIA level. And for others it could require that they attend a college far from home.

If your child wants to play sports in college, but is not a Division 1 athlete, then consider this process which should begin at the end of his junior/beginning of his senior year.

  • Be realistic about your athlete’s abilities. Talk to coaches and get their feedback about your child’s talent.
  • List the colleges of interest. For us, the search began with small colleges near family.
  • Fill out recruiting forms for those colleges.
  • Don’t wait for coaches to contact you. Email each coach, with a personal introduction from the athlete. When we did this, we received several responses, some saying they did not need a player for her position; others saying they would like to keep in touch and see game video.
  • Video your child playing. Edit the highlights, post it on You Tube. Many coaches will also request an entire game.
  • Keep coaches on a mailing list, sending periodic updates of how the college search and the athlete’s season are going. We also set up a Facebook page and invited the coaches to become fans. On this page, we posted updates, video, stats, etc.
  • Colleges will weed themselves out. By late winter, early spring, when it is time for your athlete to visit college campuses, he will hopefully have a short list of colleges that are interested in having him play.
  • Dig deeper into each program. As we investigated the programs of the colleges who expressed interest, we saw pros and cons to each program. How long is the season? How competitive is the program? What is the reputation of the coach? Of his program?
  • Visit the colleges and meet with the coaches. When my youngest was deciding where to play volleyball, my husband took her on a 4-college trip in late winter. They met with each coach and some players and toured the facilities. My daughter made her decision which college to attend at the end of that trip.

I am not an authority on getting your athlete recruited for college, but these steps worked for us. And please remember as you take this journey with your child that the most important thing is not where they play or how much scholarship money they receive, but what type of person your young athlete becomes in the process.

For more expert advice, take a few minutes to read the Seven Myths About College Sports. Then get working on helping your athlete fulfill his dreams!

Other college recruiting resources:
College Recruiting Website
College Sports Scholarships


Janis B. Meredith writes a sportsparenting blog, She’s been a sports mom for 20 years, and a coach’s wife for 28, and sees life from both sides of the bench. You can also follow her on facebook and twitter.