Twenty years ago, I was an 18-year old senior in high school. Twenty years ago, all I wanted to do was play college baseball. In fact, twenty years ago, playing baseball was the only thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Twenty years ago, I had no idea what I wanted to study in college. Heck, I had no clue where I would even go to college. Twenty years ago, I was the same recruit as you.
If only I could have known then, what I know now about college recruiting and being a college athlete. This week, I sat down with my past to give myself the best advice I never got.
Then: Why is doing well in school so important to my future?
Now: Taking pride in getting good grades and being a great student are far more important than your success as an athlete. Listen, I know you don’t want to hear that because you love the game you play more than anything and you want to believe that you’ll sign a huge million-dollar contract, someday! But statistically speaking, being a good student sets you up for a much better chance at long-term success, than being a good athlete. I’ll never tell you to not chase your dreams and go for it, that’s what life is all about. I’m simply advising you to make sure you put an equal amount of importance on both your academic career and your athletic career.
- You’ll be more appealing to many more colleges, thus giving you many more options during the recruiting process. And, more options will lead to a better chance at being happy with your college selection. A lot of recruits out there have to accept a scholarship offer because it may be the only one they get. No recruit should ever limit their scholarship options because they aren’t willing to work in the classroom.
- Being a good student speaks to your work ethic and character. It’s not necessarily an easy thing to do, but it is worth the effort and grind. Every college coach in the country would tell you that if they were deciding between two recruits with the same physical abilities, they will take the recruit that is the better student. Why? Because the better student is likely to have that same work ethic on the field as they do in the classroom. They can be trusted with expectations, and getting good grades is an indicator of self-discipline.
- No matter how good of an athlete you are, your career will end! Even if you end up in the 1% of athletes that make it professionally, you still have the great majority of your work life to live. The worst feeling about your career ending is not knowing what you will do next. On the flip side, there’s nothing better than to have a career waiting for you when the other one ends. Understand something… you’re in total control of what career awaits you!
Then: How can I get the most out of my college recruiting process?
Now: You drive the bus, no one else. You have to know exactly what you want out of this process and you have to be willing to put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid of rejection from college coaches and don’t be scared to take risks. Know your strengths as an athlete and know what colleges are looking for a player like you. Have an opinion on what you want to major in and what career path interests you, after college.
Above all else, you have to understand that if you’re going to stand by and let destiny take its course, you will no doubt miss some amazing opportunities. If you think your college recruiting process is mom and dad’s job, your coach’s job or anyone else’s job, you are 100% wrong.
Then: When I’m 40, what will have meant the most to me about my college career?
Now: The relationships you create and the fact that you can say you were a college athlete on your resume will be gold to you. Your work career will most likely be a direct result of your college athletic career, so treat your coaches, teammates and opponents with respect. Your batting average won’t get you a job, your ability to treat people right, will.
Don’t concern yourself with winning and losing, so much as you concern yourself with the process. Winning and losing are emotional events that you cannot control. Practice and hard work are rational events that you can control and apply every day for the rest of your life.