When you think of baseball, what states come to mind? Certainly not the home state of the defending NCAA Champion Vanderbilt baseball team. Understand that Tennessee is not a baseball breeding ground like Florida, California, Arizona, Mississippi and several other states. However, this team won the College World Series last year.
As I thought about what it takes to be a champion, my mind goes to thinking about what it takes to be a scholarship athlete. And believe me, it’s a lot more than talent.
Given that talent must be present, here are three more qualities of scholarship athlete. I’ve talked with a number of college coaches over the years, and they are looking beyond the talent to the person.
1. Good character. Coaches call athletes and come to their homes to see what kind of person he or she is. They want to get to know that young man or young woman. These days, too, they’ll check out your kid’s social media and they’ll do web searches to see who the student-athlete is off the field. If they are spending this kind of money, they want a kid with character. We all know what can happen when a scholarship athlete exhibits poor character and makes poor decisions once he or she gets into the school.
2. Academic success. Your kid doesn’t have to be a 4.0 student, but they need to have good grades and good SAT scores. Yes, the elite athletes get a break, but 99% of scholarship athletes must show they can perform academically. Coaches are looking at your grades and scores and projecting whether you’ll survive at their school.
3. Handling failure well. How an athlete behaves when he or she fails on the field is a good indicator for a college coach. If your kid misses a shot, strikes out, loses a race, gets beat on a serve, gets scored on … the way they react at that moment will tell a coach how emotionally stable that athlete is. At the college level, the pressures and competition are more intense, and a coach is watching how the student-athlete deals with pressure and failure at the high school level.
So much emphasis is put on a student-athlete’s athletic ability in pursuing a scholarship. Yes, they’ve got to have the talent. There is no substitute for that. But your son or daughter is in competition with other athletes with their similar ability. The three things I’ve discussed above will set your kid apart.