Posted on 10 March 2016.
BY ALEXIS SOBEL
MULT. FEATURES EDITOR
Nearly 8 million students currently participate in high school athletics in the United States, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). However, only approximately 460,000 high school students continue to play their respective sports at a collegiate level.
Student athletes need the best exposure to colleges if they want to further their careers, due to the competitive field of athletes around the nation. Athletes at the Bay use social media, highlight videos and coaches’ assistance to gain attention from schools.
Varsity Football Coach Mark Guandolo said high school athletes need to focus on the present instead of the future.
“Too many high school players are more worried about self-promotion and less about the daily grind of trying to improve themselves in the weight room, on the field and in the classroom. Again, college coaches will evaluate game film and transcripts,” he said.
In the past years, more than 85 student athletes at the Bay have been placed in college football programs of all levels. This year, there will be a total of 22 Lightning football players playing Division I football in the fall of 2016.
“We are very proud of these young men. Each one of these players has come back to say our program at Cypress Bay has prepared them for the next level,” he said. “We are anxiously waiting for next years NFL draft because we are anticipating three lightning alumni getting drafted.”
Coach Guandolo said there are many recruiting services that try to make money off of high school players, but that is not the best form of self-promotion.
“There are a few reputable services that I use that don’t charge for their services, he said. “The best way is by texting their highlight link to the college coaches. Also, college coaches are tweeting more and more [to high school players].”
Although football skills are important, Coach Guandolo said academics are equally as important.
“They need to work hard every day on improving their strength, speed and football skills. There is no magic potion. They need to attack their academics and ACT/SAT the same way,” he said. “It will be your actual game film and transcripts that will help you or hinder you in your pursuit of collegiate football.”
Junior Jake Lichtenstein has received 16 Division I football offers as of March 9: Mississippi State, Marshall, Northern Illinois, Iowa State, Rutgers, Miami (OH), Syracuse, University of Central Florida, Temple University, West Virginia, South Carolina, Western Michigan, Kentucky, Buffalo and Florida Atlantic University.
“Without the help of my coaches and Hudl, I definitely do not think I would have received as many offers as I have so far,” Lichtenstein said. “Coach G has gotten in touch with the schools before they reach out to me, so he exposes me to college teams.”
Hudl is online software that provides coaches, athletes and recruiters the tools to observe footage from previous games. This program allows athletes to easily make highlight reels of their season.
“Hudl has played a huge role in my success because it was a way for schools to see my abilities on the field without even having to physically be there,” Lichtenstein said.
Like Lichtenstein, Baker University commit Gavin Green uses Hudl to self-promote himself.
“It’s a great easy way for players to make a highlight and show any coach,” Green said. “The players make their own highlight, but Coach G guides us in picking the best plays to put in.”
However, Green said he got the majority of his exposure by getting in touch with coaches via Twitter.
“I put myself out there by going to football camps, but honestly, Twitter helped me a lot,” he said, “I followed and direct messaged plenty of coaches to receive the attention I wanted.”
Girls Varsity Soccer coach, Kate Dwyer, recommends emailing college coaches to inform them on upcoming showcases. She said this is a great avenue of self-promotion.
“Those who want to play in college need to start reaching out to colleges their freshman year,” she said. “Soccer is a bit different whereas it starts much earlier than other sports. It also has nothing to do with high school; it has everything to do with club.”
Dwyer said her playing and coaching experience has helped her pave the way for her current players.
“Because I have coached college and played Division I soccer, I know a lot of the coaches and the process, so I will help with whatever my girls need,” she said. “But as stated before, my girls all play club and that is where they get their exposure. If they are struggling, I will help by reaching out as well.”
Binghamton tennis commit Michelle Eisenberg primarily relied on emailing coaches and showcases to broadcast her talents.
“I started by emailing the coaches of the schools I was interested at the beginning of last summer,” Eisenberg said. “Then, during the summer I played in a showcase tournament at Yale where a lot of coaches came and were able to watch me play. I got to talk to some of the coaches and we stayed in contact over email.”
Eisenberg said the self-promotion process was arduous, yet rewarding after she finally committed.
“I was definitely nervous because I did not know if or when the coaches were going to respond. I knew I had to contact them first just so I could get on their radar,” Eisenberg said. “It was also a huge wake up call for me because I had always thought that college was such a long way off, but here I was starting the process of figuring out where I was going to end up for the next four years.”
Because tennis is an individual sport, Eisenberg said self-promotion is essential to play at a college level.
“Unless you are top in the nation, most colleges won’t know your name, so it is all about self-promotion,” she said. “You have to reach out to the coach so he/she knows you are interested and then can start following your process. If you do not self-promote, then the coach will never know who you are.”
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