The parents of every young athlete are dying to know whether or not their kid can play at the high school or college level in their sport. In short, you don’t know, and you won’t know until it happens.
While this question is likely not only circulating in your brain but a hot topic of discussion among other parents, the answer to that question is largely out of your control. Your child is driving the boat in this scenario, and while every parent wants the best for their kid, only they can decide what that will be.
If your child is passionate about a sport and expresses a desire to continue playing at higher levels, there are a few things you can do to help them get there–but once again, the final outcome rests in their hands.
Allow Them, in fact, Encourage Them To Play Multiple Sports
If you speak to any number of college or professional athletes, many of them will tell you that they never “specialized” in their sport until college. Playing multiple sports throughout your childhood and teenage years allows your body to become more comfortable in different athletic scenarios–this will ultimately improve your ability in any sport. So, encourage them to prioritize being an athlete before they label themselves as a soccer player, lacrosse player, forward, defender, etc.
Encourage Them To Talk To Current College Athletes
Current college athletes are the only people who can paint a true picture of what you will face when you walk onto campus. If you are lucky enough to sit down with one, ask them about the time commitment, about how hard they work in the off season, about what they gain from being a student-athlete, but also the things they have chosen to put aside for their love of the game. Being a college athlete looks glamorous from the outside, but before your child decides to set their goals, make sure they know how much work they will need to put in.
Support Open And Honest Communication With Their Coach
Your child’s youth or high school coach is one of the greatest resources they can tap for finding out whether or not they can move on to the next level. They see you playing and interacting with your teammates day in and day out, and depending on their experience, many of them are often well connected in high-school and college sports circles. So, encourage your child to ask them for honest feedback, and be ready for whatever answer they give you.
Look Beyond Division I
After you talk to your coach, begin reaching out to high schools or colleges. Putting your name out there is important–coaches have hundreds if not thousands of kids trying to play for their schools. If your child’s coach recommends DII or DIII, that does not mean the Division I dream is dead, there is still time and room for improvement. That being said, be open to playing at different levels. If your child truly loves the game and is not simply chasing a full-ride to a big DI school, DII and DIII can offer incredible opportunities as well.
While your kid’s eyes may light up at the idea of playing at any given school, make sure you and your child do research about whether or not it is a good fit. Your child is ultimately going to school to be a student-athlete, not just an athlete. 2% of student-athletes move on to play professionally. So, yes, there is the possibility that it could be your kid, but chances are, the education will outweigh the benefits of sports long term. Encourage them to think about what they might be interested in after school, which will help guide them in their research.
Be Willing To Pay
The dreamy full-ride to your choice of school also applies to a very slim percentage of athletes. Most division I schools only have a handful of scholarships to provide, and that number dwindles as you move to DII and DIII. While financial aid varies for each institution, be sure to include this in your research and plan accordingly.
Enjoy the ride through youth and high school sports and encourage your child to do the same. The journey looks long, but it will be over in the blink of an eye. So, be aware of the college process but be sure to prioritize what is in front of you.