Building an Athletic Resume

The benefits of youth sports are many; Just don’t bank on playing to make money

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The coach lobs a pitch to 6-year-old Jaylen, who takes a mighty swing and whacks it over the head of the kid looking at the clouds in center field. Home run!

As he rounds the bases, sliding into home just for the heck of it, his cheering parents can’t help thinking: “Wow, our little guy has what it takes to go all the way to the big leagues!”

Before you lose yourself in those dreams of fame and fortune, Mom and Dad, here’s a reality check, courtesy of the NCAA website:

“Only about two percent of high school athletes are awarded athletics scholarships to compete in college. (Of the) more than 460,000 NCAA student-athletes, fewer than two percent will go pro in their sport.”

Those involved in the process of training and supporting young athletes say the road to competing in college and beyond can require exceptionally large commitments of time and money. And only parents — and their child — can decide whether it’s worth the sacrifice.

But no parent should ever count on a sports scholarship paying for college. 

Courtesy of FSU Athletics

For FSU head tennis coach Dwayne Hultquist, above, Terrance Whitehurst, right, exemplifies today’s more powerful game. The ball is being hit harder and reaction times must be quicker.

“I say this pretty regularly: You should never be planning on that. That’s a bonus if it happens,” said Dwayne Hultquist, head coach of Florida State University’s men’s tennis team.

Even if a young person has the talent to be recruited by a top-tier, Division I team, NCAA rules limit the number of scholarships given out in any one sport. For example, although the FSU’s men’s tennis team has nine members, the coach is only allowed to divvy up 4.5 athletic scholarships among them. Division II teams have even less scholarship money to offer and in Division III, there are no sports scholarships at all.

(Per the NCAA, a few teams are what’s known as “headcount” sports — where, even if the student athlete gets only a dollar, that student is a “counter” toward a limited number of scholarships. Because of this rule, players in these headcount sports usually all receive full scholarships at FSU, said Vanessa Fuchs, senior associate athletic director at the university. At FSU, those sports include women’s volleyball, women’s tennis, football and men’s and women’s basketball.)

In all sports, the experts agree that the level of play and player strength has advanced tremendously in the past two or three decades — and it may be advantageous for parents to invest in lessons, camps, travel teams or tournaments to give their young athlete an opportunity to improve skills and play competitively.

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