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Jun 21 2019 - 09:06 AM
It's in the Game - Maximize your potential on the field and in the classrom

About the Project


Ensure that high school student athletes maximize their potential in navigating the often treacherous path to college and sports.






The Student Athlete


For many student athletes and their families, navigating the recruiting and college going process can feel overwhelming. This is especially true for those student-athletes who are not recruited but still aspire to continue playing sports in college. The aim of this course is to provide activities and guidelines to ensure that high school student athletes maximize their potential in navigating the often treacherous path to college and sports. The course is designed to help student athletes along every step of the process, starting from freshman year in high school all the way to graduation.

11th Grade

Taking Care of Business

Junior year is touted by parents, counselors, administrators and teachers as the most important in high school. It represents the last chance to impress admissions counselors. Student athletes (like the rest of their peers) should be registering to take the SATs or ACT. This is extremely important as your SAT score might determine the division level you play in college. Student athletes need to do the following:

  • Maintain or enhance your GPA

  • Start narrowing your choices of schools where you attend and play

  • Visit those schools and speak to a current student athlete

  • Register to take for SAT or ACT in the spring

  • Start drafting their college essay (check schools to see if they have specific questions)

  • Request recommendation letters from teachers and coaches

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Which of the ACT and SAT tests are you considering taking and why do you prefer that test over the other?

  2. Do you feel like you could write a good college essay? Will your English teacher be able to help with your essay, and if not, do you have another person who could fill that role?

  3. Can you think of 3 teachers and coaches (1 of which must be of each kind) who would write you strong letters of recommendation.

Are You Eligible?

To play sports at an NCAA Division I or II institution, the student must meet certain criteria. This short video highlights all the key requirements for NCAA eligibility.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is meant by the “eligibility clock” and how long after high school does the eligibility clock start clicking?

  2. What is meant by “athletic eligibility” as opposed to “academic eligibility”?

  3. Give an example of a violation of each of athletic and academic eligibility.

What Role for the Parents? Who's Gonna Nag?

Many student athletes come from families whose parents never went to college and don’t understand the process. These are so called “first generation” students. So it’s not surprising that parents of first generation students are confused by the process, or may even believe that their child can go to college. Stories about the high cost of college, and misconceptions that only super-smart and rich kids should go to college intimidate many parents. And often even student athletes that are very talented end up aiming too low compared to where they would be accepted.  While in wealthier families, it is often the role of the parent to nag their children to do all the things they need to apply to college and then go, in first generation families there is no-one to nag. Without an advocate that nags a student athlete, and organizes financial aid applications, college applications, college visits, etc. it is much less likely that college will be reached.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Read the “no-one to nag” article linked in the paragraph. Is there someone in your life that will “nag” you to do all the right things to prepare for college? If not, can you think of someone who can play that role?

  2. What was the percent Chicago Public School seniors who wanted to go to college but did not even apply? Why do you think it was such a high percentage?

  3. Read the “aiming too low” article linked in the paragraph. What do you think would have happened to Neltzy if his high school did not have a special program to match students with top colleges? Do you think you should apply to Cornell like Neltzy did?

12th Grade

Stopping Senioritis

For most high schoolers, senior year is the culmination of all their hard work, a time to relax and enjoy the fruits of all your hard work. This could prove disastrous as senior year is a time of executing the action plans in the previous years. How can you ensure that you don’t fall victim to senioritis? Here are some possible remedies.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Given the NCAA eligibility discussed previously, why is senioritis especially dangerous for student athletes?

  2. Which elective classes in your school are you considering enrolling in during senior year?

  3. Give examples of three short term goals and three long term goals that you want to set for your senior year.

Complete the Application Process

Here’s a checklist of things student athlete should complete by the Fall of their season year:

-Complete college applications (finish essay and collect recommendations)

-Retake SATs or ACTs (if necessary)

-Contact college coaches and send along recruiting video

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Which of the above do you still need to do?

  2. Is there someone who can help you with something on the checklist that you are stuck on?

  3. Even if you completed your college applications, are there additional schools you wish you could apply for. If so, consider adding these to your list of and apply!

Negotiating Potential Scholarship and Choosing a School

Now that you’ve went through all the rigors of being a student athlete, you now have to decide a school to attend. Your decision will be predicated upon a host of factors (scholarship money, SAT scores, location, etc.). Here is a brief look into the thought process of student athletes when it comes to committing to a college.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why is getting a college scholarship described as a “competition” and not a “dream”?

  2. Do you think that all the money infused into college sports would have any effect on you?

  3. Do you believe that if you don’t make it into a professional league after college, such as the NFL or NBA that you will be a failure? Or can you achieve other kinds of success in life because you were a student athlete in college?

9th Grade

Being a Student Athlete in College

Sports in college demands more from the student athlete than at any other juncture in their athletic career. There is more emphasis on training and preparation and as such students spend a lot of time practicing. Couple this with travel to and from games, and there is little time for student athletes to enjoy the college experience. This article offers a vivid look into the daily life of a Division 1 football player.

Questions for discussion:

  1. When a fellow student commented about Montes “Oh, he must have had a fun night” what was he talking about? Was the assumption correct? Explain.

  2. Discuss the following statement: because college athletes are admired by their fellow students, they have a really fun time in college and have a much more relaxing time than most students.

  3. Do you feel like if you were a college athlete you would fall asleep in class? If so, how would that affect you and what could you do about it?

Starting Off on the Right Foot (GPA)

It is extremely important for aspiring college student athletes to start off on the right foot in the classroom. It will prove crucial once you fully start the college going process. Your academic standing will determine the sort of school, scholarships and other opportunities you will receive. Below are some tips from the College Board on what student athletes and their parents need to start in 9th grade to ensure a smooth process:

Student-athletes need to know the athletic associations' academic eligibility requirements early in their high school career. It's also important to get parents on board early. Here are some strategies:

  • Speak at ninth — and 10th — grade assemblies about the athletic associations' requirements.

  • Bring in guest speakers, such as an athletic director from a local college, to talk about requirements and options.

  • Give ninth-graders the NCAA worksheets (in the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete from the Publications section of the NCAA website) to keep track of their course and grade information.

  • Make sure potential athletes know that the NCAA looks at their GPA in core courses only — not their overall GPA.

  • Reach out to parents and let them know what the academic requirements are.

  • Work with the athletic director to create a manual for student-athletes. Update it annually, since rules and regulations change often.

Questions for discussion:

  1. What does it mean for a course to be a “core course”?

  2. Can you calculate the GPA of the courses you are currently enrolled in?

  3. Can you calculate the GPA of your “core courses”?

Selecting a Sport

Some parents might want their child to focus on one sport to increase their improvement and focus with the hopes it will ultimately lead to a scholarship. However, for students who enjoy playing more than one sport, this is a difficult decision. Many prominent athletes have excelled at more than one sport (e.g. Deion Sanders, Herschel Walker). Though there is no right or perfect time to select a sport, this guide provides some useful tips for aspiring two sport student athletes.

Questions for Discussion

  1. If you had to choose a single sport to focus on, which would it be?

  2. What are some reasons why you should consider remaining a multi-sport athlete until you’re a junior?

  3. What are some reasons why you should consider focusing on a single sport your final two years in high school?

10th Grade

Keep on the Right Track

This grade is a crucial step in the emotional, physical and social development of student-athletes. Since they have completed a full year of high school, they are more comfortable and independent about their academics, sports and social circle. As a result, they could develop bad habits that could hurt them in the long haul. This article highlights the story of Lenny Cooke, once the most heralded high school basketball player in the country, who never lived up to his potential. It’s a cautionary tale for every high school student athlete.  The Lenny Cooke story was made into a documentary.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Do you believe that Lenny Cooke’s story isn’t really relevant to most high school athletes because he was so famous? Or are the mistakes he made important for all student athletes to understand so they can avoid making them?

  2. Was it Lenny Cook’s fault that he suffered his fate, or was it because of how he grew up and the people that surrounded him?

  3. Can you think of other examples of famous high school athletes that were presumed for greatness but who did not end up in the big leagues?

The Right Step

The adage that It is never too early to start thinking about college rings more true during sophomore year. This is the time when students should start thinking about SATs, learning more about the college process and the different playing divisions of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The NCAA is divided into three divisions (commonly referred to as D1, D2, D3) based on ability levels. Learn more about the different divisions from the NCAA and other relevant information for prospective student athletes.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Find a college that you would seriously consider going o and its determine its division.

  2. Are there any reasons to choose a non-D1 school over a D1 school?

  3. Find D2 and D3 schools that you would like to learn more about.

Realize Your Potential

One of the most difficult things for any individual is self-assessment. Let’s face it, no one    wants to be their own critic. This stage is very important for the student athlete, especially one who does not attend an elite sports school or doesn’t play a mainstream sport (e.g., golf). This story about Desi Rodriguez, who rose from obscurity at his small high school in the Bronx to a full basketball scholarship at Seton Hall. This video sheds light on the different recruiting paths for highly touted high school players who have a ton of schools recruiting them and those who are hoping to land a scholarship somewhere.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How can they individually assess how good they are?

  2. How can they market their talents for college coaches, scouts and other recruiters?  

  3. Do you feel like you are not being challenged sufficiently at your current school to fully realize your athletic potential? If so, is there a school that would fit you better and would you consider trying out for that school?
|By: Ryan Allen|597 Reads