The best thing a ninth-grader can do: Set a solid foundation to start on the right foot.
The recruiting process can be a lot like conditioning drills at the end of practice — frustrating, stressful and seemingly endless. But just like wind sprints, recruiting goes much easier if you’re well prepared. A solid plan of attack begins during your freshman year. Instead of taking a blind leap into the recruiting pool, you’ll be better off with a good idea of what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it and when you want to get it done. A well-thought out schedule pays huge dividends down the road.
But you’re not a fortune-teller. You aren’t even certain of what’s on your schedule for this coming weekend. How could you possibly know what you should be doing three years from now?
Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.
You walk in the door on your first day of high school, and you realize it immediately — the next year is going to be a big adjustment. Everything’s different. The school’s larger, the other kids are bigger, the classes are harder. You might be on the freshman team or JV or even varsity, but you’ll definitely find yourself with high expectations, unfamiliar teammates and a brand-new coach. You’ll have dances and pep rallies and parties to think about. You’ll worry about where to sit in the cafeteria. You’ll have a ton of homework. You’ll be exhausted.
With all that going on, you might just wonder, “What is it that’s really important here?” Well, if you ask the experts, they’ll tell you that freshman year is all about grades.
We know — just what you wanted to hear.
“In your freshman year, you have to establish a foundation of academics,” says Steve Specht, head football coach at St. Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio) and the proud owner of two shiny state championship rings. “You need to focus on your grades, your core courses, your work ethic.”
He’s right. Freshman year is when you need to start developing the disciplined habits that will carry you through high school and into a good college. And there’s no time to waste—as any college admissions officer will tell you, your freshman grades count just as much as the others.
“When you’re picking classes, do it thoughtfully,” advises Jeff Ward, the Bowdoin College director of athletics. “You should make sure that your class selection is challenging without being overwhelming. If you take five AP classes and get C’s in all of them, that’s not going to help. The flip side is being mindful of what the NCAA requirements are for the core curriculum for your classes.”
Ward is talking about the academic eligibility requirements that you must fulfill if want to play Division I or II sports. The NCAA requires that you complete 16 core classes in order to be eligible to participate in D1 athletics (14 for D2) or receive an athletic scholarship during your first college year—most of these classes are in the major subjects like English and math, but be careful: they may differ from what your high school requires for graduation. For instance, St. Xavier, where Specht coaches, is a Jesuit school, and students there have to take classes in Catholicism.
“But the NCAA doesn’t count those,” he says, “nor any fine arts classes or things like that.”
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with which classes count and which don’t. Check out www.ncaapublications.com and download a copy of the 2010-11 Guide For the College-Bound Student- Athlete. Talk to your guidance counselor about this. Failing to get to know the guidance counselor is among the most common mistakes that promising athletes make. He or she can help you formulate a long-term plan for high school and is a good person to go to if you ever get overwhelmed. And when colleges begin to call, it’s a major plus to have the guidance counselor on your side.
Academically, freshman year is an adjustment, and athletically it’s the same. Get to know your current and future coaches. Introduce yourself to the training staff. Meet the athletic director.
“Understand the mission of the school and the mission of the program,” Specht says.
But you have to start looking ahead, too. You’re going to grow a ton in the next few years, so set conditioning goals to ensure that as your body grows, it grows stronger and faster. And make sure to get your full eight hours of sleep every night. Staying out late at parties may sound alluring, but most growth occurs during sleep, and being rested and refreshed is one key to athletic accomplishment.
Work hard, work smart. And, as Specht says, “Have fun while you’re doing it."
Link to Article: Freshmen need to think Recruiting Early