While traveling in Connecticut, I had the good fortune of staying in a hotel in Hartford where the University of Connecticut (UConn) hockey team was also staying. These young men were getting ready to play Tulsa – a very important game for the UConn team. You may be wondering why this has anything to do with athletic scholarships which enable students to afford to attend their dream school to play sports. The reason is simple. Watching these college students, who were clearly a “team,” made me know how valuable it is to be able to play sports in college if that is what you love to do. These young men were respectful, serious (and excited) about the task at hand and enjoying their camaraderie. So, what if you want to attend a Division I or Division II school as a student athlete and can’t afford it?
Here are some things you can do.
- Know the NCAA requirements that must be fulfilled in high school and do what you need to do beginning in 9th grade.
- Find a coach who will be your advocate and give you tips on how to be noticed by scouts from various schools.
- If possible, have someone videotape your games so you can compile highlights of your performance.
- Work as hard as you can to make your GPA as high as possible.
- Prepare for the ACT or the SAT to increase your scores.
When I was in Hartford, Connecticut, one of the members of the UConn coaching staff gave me some insight into how scholarships are determined at his school. He explained that each varsity sport at the University of Connecticut (a Division I school) has a slightly different situation. The football team, for example, is limited by NCAA rules on the number of full scholarships they can offer. The hockey team, however, has more flexibility. They can offer a number of full and partial scholarships. He has players who were admitted with a high GPA and/or SAT/ACT scores so the university offered those players merit scholarships. The coaches then made recommendations that the difference be covered with an athletic scholarship. Those players, because they were admitted with solid, if not impressive, test scores and GPA were able to have their entire tuition paid by the school. A few players also qualified for and received financial aid, which could be added to the equation. Nevertheless, the student athlete did not pay anything beyond personal expenses – 100% was taken care of and he or she could be a college athlete.