For those of us with sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, etc, in sports we've all been there... in the stands cheering our hearts out for their victories, trying to keep them pumped up through their losses. We want our loved ones to be the bright, shining stars on the court, or on the field, especially if a sports college scholarship is in their future. Take it from someone who knows, firsthand. If your student athlete isn't in some type of select sports, they aren't going to be the bright shining star on the court, or on the field. They won't get noticed or exposed to or recruited by any college or university.
College recruiting/scouting/and coaching is in my family. I don't personally do it myself, but, several members of my family do. They would tell you, if they could, that unless a student athlete has so much awesome natural ability in a sport that they make the local news almost every week during the season, college scouts/recruiters, and coaches rarely if ever travel to a high school to check out the up and coming talent. That's because in doing that, they are only exposed to one school and what that one school potentially has to offer. It saves them a lot of time, and money, to instead travel to select tournaments, who have thousands of kids from all over the country playing.
Student athletes can benefit from select sports in many different ways... ways that aren't offered by playing on a school team, or attending a sports camp. For starters, the level of competition and play on a select sports team is much higher than anything offered on the school level, or at a sports camp. The older age levels....the levels that the colleges recruit from, play at a level that is as close to the college level of play and competition as you can get. No sports camp can offer that. The level of coaching is also much more advanced than can be offered at the school level or at the sports camps. At the select tournaments, the players get a chance to show their stuff to the people who matter...the college coaches, recruiters, and scouts (although student athletes can't be contacted until their junior year of high school by any school wanting to offer them a sports scholarship.) The colleges and universities can see for themselves the players in action, which really gives them a great idea of who they do, and don't, want on their teams. Without select sports, none of this is available to any players. Granted, you have to try out and be selected to be a part of a select sports team, you can't simply join it. But student athletes should be doing everything they can to get selected for a select sports team if their ultimate goal is to play a sport at the college level.
My niece plays volleyball for a local high school in Hamilton County, and she also plays select volleyball. At one of her high school games last year, I overheard some mothers from the other team discussing select volleyball... and how they were not going to go that route, because it's "too time consuming", and they wanted their daughters to have a chance to play other sports. Yes, select sports is very time consuming...it has to be, it's the only way a bright shining star on the court or the field is able to shine brightly. Colleges and universities don't want student athletes who are good at several different sports...being good doesn't win the games. And at the college level, winning is the priority. Colleges and universities want the best of the best of the best, and to get to that level, a student athlete must be playing select sports... unless they happen to be blessed with mostly natural ability in a sport. Which some are lucky enough to be blessed with.
Select sports is definitely a sacrifice, both with time and money. But it's the only route to go if you want your student athlete to make it to the college level in sports. This is not to say that sports camps and high school sports aren't vitally important, they definitely are necessary pieces of the puzzle. Most select teams won't even consider student athletes who have little to no experience in a sport...and that's where school sports and sports camps come in. But the bottom line is, if your student athlete isn't in select sports, they most likely won't be getting any college sports offers when the time comes. They might be stars, but they will be outshined by the student athletes who are not only involved in school sports and sports camps, but are also in select sports as well.
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I would say, if your goal is a college scholarship, your chances of getting one are much better by spending all that excess time on academics than on select sports teams. And I don’t know about you, but the “bright shining stars” on the field aren’t always the biggest, strongest, and fastest. Sometimes it is the kid that is just so-so, but has the biggest heart on the field.
Sorry, while I appreciate your passion for your children’s success, there is just so much wrong with this letter, I can’t get my head around it all.
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I agree with you that playing on a "select team" certainly increases a student-athlete's chances of receiving scholarship offers, but you grossly exaggerate its importance.
"...it's the only route to go if you want your student athlete to make it to the college level in sports."
That is patently false. It helps, absolutely, but it is by no means the only way to go if you want your child playing in college. One need only consider a single sport, which also happens to be far and away the most popular sport in America: football. Going by your article, football should cease to exist past the high school level, since there is no "select" league for this sport. There are school seasons and summer camps (both invite only and all-inclusive)--that's it.
Aside from that, it is very common, not rare, for coaches to travel to schools to watch individual athletes. They certainly go to select tournaments as well, but again you grossly (under) exaggerate the rate at which they travel to individual schools, as you put it "rarely if ever." Maybe volleyball is different; I can't speak on how volleyball coaches recruit, but since your article referred to sports in general throughout, one can only believe you weren't limiting your remarks to volleyball only.
As far as the level of coaching being "much more advanced than can be offered at the school level or at the sports camps." Again, that is simply not true. It varies from team to team, coach to coach. There are certainly some very good/great coaches in select sports, but there are also some very bad ones as well, and the same holds true with high school sports. Sports camps, however, which if we're talking about high school aged athletes, are much more often than not held at colleges all across the country, with those colleges' coaches being the ones running them. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the level of coaching at those camps will far and away exceed the level of coaching at the select level. These camps are not just meant for the athletes; they are also for the coaches. Coaches use these camps to evaluate athletes, especially at senior-only camps (meaning you have to be a rising senior to participate in the camp). I have personally seen student-athletes receive scholarship offers at these camps, and they were not invite-only camps; they were camps that someone who had never even played the sport before could attend if he/she wanted to.
"Colleges and universities don't want student athletes who are good at several different sports."
I assure you, colleges and universities don't care how many different sports an athlete is good at. If they're good enough for whatever sport they're being recruited for, they'll take them.
As I said in the beginning, you make some good points about the benefits of playing in select sports, but you also exaggerate those benefits, and you grossly exaggerate the consequences of not playing, to the point that your overall view of what it takes to play a college sport not named volleyball is very much distorted.