Profile of a varsity intercollegiate athlete
October 21, 2016
There are millions of high school athletes in the country. Approximately 480,000 of them go on to play at the college level. How is it possible that the number dramatically decreases from high school to the college level?
There are many factors that come into play that determine which high school athletes move to the next level. What does it take for a high school athlete to be a varsity intercollegiate athlete?
High school student-athletes who post strong academic grades, test scores and show involvement in their respective student organizations, clubs and activities tend to stand out on their college application forms. Coaches need athletes who are academically qualified to meet their university’s admission requirements. A student’s academic background is imperative in coaches’ assessments of whether they will be able to manage their time to attend classes, have strong grades and still find time to train and compete for their teams.
A big part of a high schooler’s potential success in college relies on their skill development, but there also is an emphasis placed on the high school athlete’s physical fitness. Athletes who are in outstanding physical shape tend to be more inclined to compete for a starting spot early on, and their skill development is oftentimes accelerated because they are able to use their fitness level as an advantage.
An athlete’s initial fitness level doesn’t determine everything, though. There is an athlete’s “projectability”, where coaches can visibly anticipate an athlete’s physical growth as the college years go on. This was the case with me when I was a high school student-athlete. I was a skinny guy coming out of high school, but I was projectable. I had the skills to compete at the college level, but I showed that I was capable of putting on weight and getting stronger, which meant I was only going to get better. Coaches like to see athletes who are in incredible shape, but show more potential for further development as well.
Knowledge of own strengths and weaknesses.
I love it when athletes dream big and completely support the idea of shooting for the moon. But in order to make yourself an even better athlete, especially from high school to college, you will need to have a thorough understanding of what you’re good at and what you’re not good at. This way you will be able to identify what the college coaches might want to do with you when you show up on campus. For example, I saw that I could swing the bat, play decent defense and show versatility as a freshman—but I wasn’t polished in every aspect of my game. I knew that I needed to get physically stronger in order to improve my skills- throwing velocity, explosive movements and power to hit the ball harder and farther. You have to know what you’re good at, and what you’re not good at so you can work on your weaknesses, which in turn helps you become an even better player.
A coach always has a style. Every coach tailors a team based on their preferred playing style. For example, some teams are full of small and fast guys who are more skills-oriented, while some other are physically advanced than others who aren’t as talented. Some play with a specific strategy in mind, some don’t. Coaches will look for players whose skill-set fits their program’s playing style.
The program’s culture.
If a coach sees that you’ve checked off all the traits the program is looking for, oftentimes you will be invited to campus to meet the players and the coaching staff. This is normally the final phase of player screening to see whether the player is a right fit for the program’s culture. The most important piece in the grand puzzle. You have to be a good fit for the program’s culture, you have to be able to get along with your teammates and show that you will be a key addition to the locker room.
The five factors explained here apply to every prospective student-athlete in the nation. Each one of these factors can be improved on daily through conscious effort and a relentless desire to become a college student-athlete. If you can, you will do great things.