Athletics and the College Process
This section is for students who are thinking about continuing with athletics in college and might be considered a "recruitable" athlete. If you are contacted by college coaches, on either the Division I level or the Division II level, you can feel fairly confident that you may have the ability to compete in college at some level. If you have not heard from any coaches, but hope to continue in college with a sport, or perhaps begin a new one that we do not offer at STHS, we suggest the following:
Self-Assessment: Take the time to be honest with yourself about your abilities and potential. If you have never been a starter at STHS in your sport, can you really play on the college level? How good is the program at the schools you are looking at? Do they welcome all to the program, with potential for development, or only those they recruit?
Talk with others: Talk to your coach at STHS, your counselor, or former STHS students who were similar to you in ability. Ask for their help in aiding you in your self-assessment.
If you feel that you might be of interest to some college coaches after completing these initial steps, we recommend you do the following:
- Talk to your coach at STHS about the kinds of schools you are considering. Discuss other programs that might be of interest to you. Ask if he or she will contact these schools on your behalf. If you are in a sport where college coaches request videos or film of your play, start to discuss what you might send.
- When communicating with the admission offices at these colleges, be sure to inform them that you are a varsity athlete and the sport(s) you play. They will often pass this information on to the respective coach.
- Contact the college coaches directly. Let them know of your interest in applying to their school and your intention to participate in their program. You might want to consider sending an athletic resume (see sample) or setting up a visit to meet with the coach.
- Depending on your ability, you may be of interest to some college coaches and not to others. Do your best to be realistic in your self-assessment of your athletic talent and the teams for which you are most likely to play. Remember that, while you may be good enough to play on a particular college's team, your athletic talent may not be of a caliber to play a role in the admission committee's decision making. Coaches have varying ranges of ability to support you in the admission process, so it is important to understand their system.
- Watch out for coaches' tactics. Remember that your interests and a coach's interests don't always overlap to your advantage. A coach's goal is to build the best team possible. Typically, a coach is allowed to present to the admissions committee a list of his or her most desired candidates from among the applicant pool. There is no guarantee that the admissions committee will admit all candidates on a coach's list nor follow his order of preference; academic and personal factors have to be taken into consideration. For this reason, coaches often create their lists by striking a balance between applicant's athletic ability and academic credentials, while factoring in a student's enthusiasm (or lack of interest) in attending that college.
It is not unusual for a coach to ask you to state which college is your first choice. After all, in choosing which athletes to support in the admission process, a coach does not want to waste energy or a high position on his or her list on a candidate who is not likely to enroll. We do not want you to lie to coaches. Nor do we want your honesty to put you at a disadvantage in the admissions process. If coaches start asking you to commit, it is of critical importance that you discuss this with your guidance counselor and parent/guardian before responding.
Indeed, it is important that you keep us posted throughout the process about all communications with college coaches. Our work as your advocate is strengthened if we know which college coaches seem most interested in you. If coaches make unfounded promises to you or ask you to commit when you are not ready to do so, we can often intervene to your advantage by contacting admission officers.
Suggestions for Athletes in the College Application Process
Send a letter of interest your junior year to coaches at the colleges indicating your interest in their program (see sample letter below). Your letter should include:
- Your interest in the athletic program and your particular sport
- That you will be forwarding your application to the admissions office
- Your experience in the sport, position, any stats
- A list of honors or awards in the sport
- List the names, school addresses, and telephone numbers of any coaches to be contacted regarding your credentials. Advise them if they will be writing you a recommendation or contacting them in the future on your behalf
- Mention your availability for a visit/interview
2. Check with your high school coach or athletic director on the level of play you should consider and have them make contact on your behalf.
3. Prepare a highlight video to forward to the coach.
4. At the completion of your junior year, file the NCAA Eligibility form online (for Division I and Division II) at www.eligibilitycenter.org. At this time, an official transcript of grades 9-11 should be sent to the Eligibility Center from the High School Guidance office. Complete a “Transcript Request Form” before the summer and bring it to your counselor or Mrs. Kane. Remember to also send your official SAT or ACT scores to the NCAA by entering the code #9999 as a reporting selection when you register for the exam. Visit www.eligibilitycenter.org for all eligibility rules and requirements.
NCAA Eligibility Center
The NCAA has established an eligibility center for both recruiting and eligibility purposes for student-athletes in Division I and II. This does not apply to Division III applicants.
All students with an interest in Division I or II programs should submit an application online to the Clearinghouse. Please let the guidance office know when you have applied. We will send an initial transcript and then your final transcript at the end of your senior year. You will be officially certified upon graduation from STHS.
The Clearinghouse certifies that you have completed a core of courses that is different from STHS ' s graduation requirements, including two years of natural or physical science. Also, be aware that not all STHS courses have been approved by the NCAA. You need to check with your counselor each year to determine that you are taking approved courses.
Apply at ncaa.org
Sample Letter to Coach/Special Interest Person
I am a junior/senior at Springfield Township High School and have heard about the ______________________ team at your school. Would you please send me some literature regarding your program? I am planning to visit your campus this summer and will call you when my visiting arrangements are settled. I hope I have an opportunity to meet with you this summer.
I have participated in the _________________ program at STHS since my freshman year, earning All-League honors in the Suburban I. I have also competed in the Keystone Games, and compete during the summer with the state select team. Both of my coaches would be happy to discuss my experience with you.
I have enclosed a brief resume of my achievements.