Helping Hudson Families Navigate the Road to College Sports
September 23, 2016
by Tom Tollefson
It’s the dream of almost every child who picks up a ball or steps onto the field in any athletic competition. The dream is playing college sports. Hudson parents, students and coaches flocked to Steckevicz gym at Alvirne last Tuesday night to hear Rick Wire’s presentation about the long road to get a high school student into college sports.
Wire is the president of Dynamite Sports, a motivational speaker, and considered to be an expert in the world of college recruiting and athletics. Wire’s words and lecture came from a place of empathy as he too learned the ropes of college recruiting to help his son get a Division I athletic scholarship to play football at Stanford University and then go on to a nine-year career in the NFL.
“I loved it. I thought it was good information. I think it answered questions on how to start,” said Connie Lyles, whose son plays basketball at Alvirne High School.
One of the main points of his lecture was the new NCAA Division I and II eligibility requirements. Much to the surprise of many parents, he stated that student’s overall GPA means “absolutely nothing.” The GPA of your core courses, such as math, English and science must calculate up to at least a 2.3. You also must have passed 10 courses before you start your senior year and seven of them must have been math, English, or science, and register with the eligibility center no later than Christmas break of your junior year. You also must have three years of Algebra I or higher. He advised parents and students to work with high school guidance counselors to make sure you are in the appropriate classes and in the best academic standing to ensure NCAA eligibility.
Wire stressed the importance of making your student academically eligible and making them marketable to coaches and recruiters.
“Going through this isn’t about doing a few big things right it’s about doing a lot of little things right,” he said about the whole process.
Another part of the college preparation is taking the ACT and SAT. Wire offered parents a free SAT and DVD with over 11 hours of video instruction and sample questions provided by the company eKnowlege.
“If you take one test and don’t like your scores, take the other test. Maybe it will click different for you,” he said.
When looking for colleges, Wire also encouraged parents to look outside the NCAA to schools in the NAIA (National Athletic Intercollegiate Association), which has competitive collegiate teams and scholarship options. The NAIA has over 249 institutions around the country, is similar to D-3 in student body size, has earned 23 national championships, has 60,000 student athletes, and offer $500 million in college funding aid.
Wire strongly encouraged parents to start finding the right schools with the right fit for their student rather it be NCAA or NAIA. He stated that first you and your student need to narrow down the level of play that would be realistic for their ability rather it be Division I, II, or III. One way he suggested to get an assessment is to ask your student’s high school coaches about their talent level and to research the athletic standards for a Division I, II and III athlete in their respective sports. These standards include bench press weight and 40 yard dash time, just to name a few.
“It could be the biggest mistake for your student athlete,” Wire said about overestimating your son or daughter’s athletic ability level.
Wire stated that 70 percent of all athletic opportunities come from Division 3, NAIA, and junior colleges, and that Division I schools only add a few freshmen a year on an average.
Once you have your competition level finalized and some schools narrowed down, the process of making your student marketable to college athletic programs begins. Wire joked that the first option is to “get on your knees and pray,” then went on to discuss a more serious option of marketing your student athlete yourself, which he warned would be time consuming and only realistic for those capable of investing many hours. He suggested sending out an academic resume, highlight DVD, cover letter student athlete information sheet and newspaper articles to as many college coaches as possible during the student’s sophomore and junior years.
Wire sent out 50-100 for his son, who received six Division 1 college offers by April 1 of his junior year. Wire also advised that you need to follow up on each package by a phone call to the coach soon after sending it out to be sure they got it. Wire reminisced about sending out an overnight express package of his son’s highlight tape after a coach asked to see it.
“When a college coach wants to see a highlight tape, you need to have it ready,” Wire said.
For those parents who simply do not have the time for the hours of work necessary to market their athlete themselves, a viable option would be getting help from a professional recruiter service or college scouting service, which offers many free tools to help in the whole profess. He recommends NCSA (National College Scouting Association).
“They care about kids and education as much as I do,” Wire said.
Once your student finds a college and gets into the athletic program, a new process begins, which is adapting to the life of a college athlete. Wire noted that it is a much more structured lifestyle than high school with strict lifting schedules in addition to practice time and class time.
According to Wire, a reported 26 percent of all incoming freshmen scholarship athletes in every sport end up leaving college before graduating. Wire emphasized the effort a student athlete must put in not only in their sport, but in the classroom and into time management required to balance both responsibilities.
Wire has multiple tools and opportunities to help parents guide their children along the journey to collegiate athletics on his website www.dynamitesports.com. He also wrote a book titled “The Student Athlete and College Recruiting.”