To learn more about the recruiting process, I talked with Avi Stopper, a former college athlete and a co-founder of CaptainU, which could be called an athletic LinkedIn that helps student athletes to connect with athletic coaches.
Stopper, who is a former men’s soccer coach at the University of Chicago, launched CaptainU when he was in the school’s MBA program. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of high school athletes, college coaches, youth coaches, and events have used CaptainU to get organized, promote themselves, and get noticed by others in the youth and college sports world.
Major Take-Away Points
Here are a few of Stopper’s main take-home points during my interview with him:
1. Rather than focusing upfront on athletic scholarships, student-athletes need to look for schools that would be good fits academically and socially.
2. Students should ask themselves this question: If I broke my leg and couldn’t play my sport anymore, would this be a school I’d want to attend?
3. A student shouldn’t bring up athletic scholarships right when meeting or exchanging emails with a coach. That’s a turn off. The teenager needs to know more about the program and the coach needs to know more about the athlete before scholarships are broached.
4. Students should not ignore Division III schools even though they don’t offer athletic scholarships. Merit scholarships and financial aid from Division III schools often exceed what many students will get from athletic scholarships.
5. Top players are on Division I teams, but as you start to move down the Division I ranks, there is a lot more parity between some mid-tier Division I teams and some of the top Division II and Division III teams.
Athletic Scholarship Odds
During our conversation, Stopper suggested that parents and student athletes should read a sobering 2008 story that ran in The New York Times regarding athletic scholarships. Here is the link: Expectations Lose to Reality of Sports Scholarships