Perspective: Scholarships, Awards, Championships, and more!

Why are you going to college?

The answer to that question should be both simple and complex.

The simple answer should be “to get an education” or “to get a degree” or some very similar permutation of that concept. If it isn’t, you might want to rethink your whole college plan or at least discuss it with your parents, and you’re definitely reading the wrong blog.

The complex answer might include other job or career-related factors like internships, research, and networking; social factors like dating, Greek life, and parties; personal factors like satisfying your parents, escaping your parents, and finding yourself; and many other factors.  But if you’re reading this, you probably have athletics pretty high on your list of priorities.

As much as I applaud and support your passion for athletics and everything else that can make your college experience diverse and complete and just plain awesome, you have to keep the simple answer — an education and a degree — at the top of your list of priorities, both when you’re choosing a school and when you’re in school, deciding how to spend your time and energy.

If your goal is to get a scholarship, receive awards, or win championships, you’re probably going to be disappointed. The vast majority of college athletes don’t get any of those things.

Why are you going to college?

Look at these pictures. Look at the smiles, the pride, the tears of joy on the faces of these UCSC Track & Field athletes as they graduate. The simple answer is what it’s about, both for them as student-athletes and for me as their coach. We all have to remember that this is why they’re here.

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Student and athlete: One UCSC Track athlete gets her long run in before attending her teammate’s graduation ceremony. Her ceremony will be tomorrow.
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Tears of Joy: She got her run in yesterday. Today, this UCSC Track athlete can’t contain her emotions during graduation.
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Class of 2017: UCSC Track athletes Bella, Tyler, and Sophia enjoy graduation ceremonies.

Keep moving in the direction of that robe and the funny hat and the piece of paper that says you earned it, and all the great things that says about you. You can include a bunch of the other things on your list from the more complex answer, just don’t forget the simple answer.

What is athletic recruiting without athletic scholarships?

There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about recruiting and scholarships. That’s one of the main reasons why I’m starting this blog. I hear questions and assumptions from recruits, parents, coaches, and friends. I’ve answered so many similar questions, and corrected so many incorrect assumptions, that I decided to try to provide some understanding and clarification here.

One common line of questions and assumptions is about Division III recruiting. NCAA Division III institutions, like UC Santa Cruz, where I am the Head Track & Field Coach, are prohibited from offering athletic scholarships. It’s part of what’s beautiful about Division III, but I can get into that at another time. The lack of scholarships often confuses people. They think that means we can’t or don’t recruit, as if we have nothing to offer without scholarships. There is such a blinding focus on athletic scholarships that people lose sight of why students choose a college, or why they should choose a college.

In recruiting, I’m not really trying to convince prospective student-athletes that they should choose UCSC. I primarily try to help them find all the information that will help them make the best choice for themselves, in consideration of all the factors that are important to them in their decision making process.

The vast majority of college Track & Field and Cross Country athletes are not on an athletic scholarship. Scholarships are just one of many tools available for recruiting. Athletic recruiting is anything a program does to attract new students. That can include emails, phone calls, texts, social media posts, letters, face-to-face conversations, official or unofficial recruiting visits, and scholarships. A prospective student-athlete might communicate with coaches, administrators, faculty, alumni, and students in researching a university and ensuring that they make an informed decision.

The NCAA has many rules that limit how and when coaches and others can contact recruits. These rules vary somewhat between different divisions. Depending on the rules of their division, the program’s budget, and the preferences of the coaching staff, different programs utilize different recruiting tools at different times. Division III schools are prohibited from offering athletic scholarships. However, everything else Division III coaches do to try to attract new student-athletes is still recruiting. Just as it is still recruiting when Division I and II coaches attract new student-athletes without offering them athletic scholarships.

I touched very briefly on a lot of topics surrounding recruiting. I hope to expand on many of these in coming days, weeks, and months. Let me know

 

 

if there’s a topic you would like to know more about or a specific question you would like answered.

 

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