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Can Your Kid Be a College Athlete?

by Louise | July 6th, 2011 | Teen Perspective

Over a year ago, I wrote about getting into college with the help of sports. At that point, I had no idea what college athletics would be like, if I would fit in or end up being the slowest on the team and absolutely massacred by the training. In high school, I had played volleyball, played basketball, and run middle distance (400m and 800m) in track. I was decent, but not a star.

Now, here I am, summer after my freshman year, training for another season of Varsity cross country, with a year of college and college athletics under my belt. Wait, did I even run cross country in high school? Nope. This past year, I ran cross country, winter track, and spring track for my college. If I wasn’t even the top of my team in high school, how did I fare in college? Well, I certainly was near the bottom of the team in cross country, but I never felt left out, and put in a good deal of effort.

That effort paid off in winter, when I went to the NCAA Division III Nationals as a member of the Distance Medley Relay (DMR). At the pre-competition banquet, one of the speakers asked the students in the audience who had not made it to their high school state track meet to stand up. Over half of the athletes stood up. This meant that the majority of these athletes had probably, at some point in their lives, been told that they weren’t good enough to make it in college athletics, and yet there they were, at Nationals. My DMR team eventually earned All-American status (which means we placed in the top 8).

The reality is, your kid doesn’t need to be the top athlete in high school to be a college athlete.  Does it help to be good at a sport? Of course. However, outside of varsity athletics, there are also club sports, intramural sports, and even classes for sports. I know that sometimes a kid is pushed too hard to become a star in athletics, which is not good. But, I have also seen the other side of the spectrum, where kids are discouraged from their talent in a particular sport, being told to favor studies and forget about the idea of a future involving athletics. I think that’s a shame. Especially in Division III athletics, the participants are student-athletes, where “student” comes first, but the “athlete” is beneficial to the student (which I’ll discuss in a future article). If your child has a love for a sport, there’s a place for it alongside a college education.

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