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What You Need to Know if You Want to Play College Sports

Some students have spent years dreaming of playing sports in college. In addition to loving the sport, some have hopes of becoming professional athletes. Others are hoping for sizable scholarships that often come with athletic potential. If you see yourself playing a sport in college, there are a few things you need to know about:

Timelines: The key word here is “early.” If you want to play varsity sports in college you need to begin the process as soon as possible. Colleges may begin looking for athletes for some sports as early as freshman year, some even earlier. Official contact between student and college is not officially allowed until sometime after June 15 of a student’s sophomore year. However, many start “engaging” with students much sooner by contacting their coaches. While it’s true that a few sports may still be looking for players during an athlete’s senior year, the opportunities are far less plentiful.

Recruiting: Varsity college sports are not like high school sports. Most of the traditional sports (football, baseball, basketball, tennis, hockey, soccer, volleyball, and more) find potential team members through a process called recruiting. Recruiters spend their time trying to find talented kids throughout the country by attending school games, camps dedicated to showcasing talent, and following up on recommendations from coaches they trust, just to name a few. Occasionally students can “walk on” to try out for a team, meaning they present themselves for a tryout once they’re in college. And for some, this works. But, in general, it’s a long shot.

NCAA: Most sports are subject to rules and regulations established by the NCAA National Collegiate Athletic Association). It’s a good idea to register with the NCAA ( as early on in the process as possible. There are different divisions (DI, DII, DIII and more) within college sports, each with its own rules regarding GPA’s, test scores, scholarship options, and recruiting practices. You need to know what these are.

Getting noticed: In order to capture a recruiter’s attention, in many cases, you need to create an online presence that shows your stats, film of your performance and a resume that includes a recommendation from a high school coach.

The truth about your prospects: Before getting involved in this arduous process you need to get an honest assessment of your skills and potential from someone who knows you – preferably a high school or club team coach. Many times coaches will encourage a student and say they have great potential, but when push comes to shove, they’re not ready to write a positive recommendation. High school coaches are always treading a fine line between inspiring students to improve and honestly assessing talent. If a coach is hesitant, push for honesty. Of course, like everyone, even coaches can be wrong. But a positive assessment is a great start for any aspiring college athlete.


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