I talked to five high school football coaches on what it takes to play sports in college. This is what they had to say.
For much of my life, it was my dream to play a sport in college. And based on the number of high school athletes I talk to, take pictures of and write stories about, I know it’s their dream as well. A quick scan of their Twitter profiles can confirm that.
But how do you get there?
Is it based off athletic performance? The name of your school? The grades you make?
I couldn’t answer the question on my own, so I went to people who could give me some advice: high school football coaches.
The first coach I talked to was Matanzas’ Don Mathews.
“It sounds cliche, but be a student first,” he said. “Without your grades, there will be no athletics.”
This was advice that was reiterated among each of the other five coaches I spoke to. It wasn’t always No. 1 on the list of priorities, but it was never far down.
Atlantic coach D.J. Mayo, who coached for a year at Warner University, said the first step is to never miss time. In essence, don’t skip a practice or a workout.
“You’re competing against millions of guys, so when you take time off, there are others who are still working,” he said. “Don’t give a college a reason not to recruit you.”
On another note, “I have been blessed to be offered by [inset school’s name]!” posts are dominating the Twitter feeds of the nation’s high school athletes. Flagler Palm Coast’s Travis Roland’s says you should ignore all that.
“Focus on yourself and work as hard as you possibly can,” he said. “Believe your opportunity will come.”
But of all the coaches I talked to, it was the response of Mainland’s Scott Wilson, the coach of a program that produces multiple Division I athletes every year, that caught me off guard.
“Don’t make playing college or in the pros the final and most important goal,” he said. “The goal should be to be the absolute best spouse and parent they could possibly be, who also gives back in a positive manner to the community.”