Becoming a champion for student-athletes

Why students need someone to guide them through the increasingly complex process of college recruitment

Becoming a champion for student-athletes

When it comes to athletic recruitment, there is misinformation out there. As a parent of a college athlete and as a college counselor, I have experienced this firsthand. I want to impress upon student athletes — and the counselors who advise them — that while they need to be their own advocates, students should also find a “champion.” This champion will partner with the athlete and help him or her through this increasingly complex process.

A champion may also serve as the necessary “reality check” for the student. This role is sometimes absent in the student’s quest for glory on the athletic field. I cannot reinforce enough that in the term “student athlete,” the word “student” should always remain first in the equation. How heartbreaking it is for an athlete who suffers an injury and cannot play to only then realize the school he or she attends is no longer a good fit.

The importance of being proactive is key in this process. That’s where a champion or a team of champions (parents, coaches, school counselor, etc.) fits in. It should be noted that at least one of the champions should have the ability to be objective and as such provide a heavy dose of reality when needed. This role is frequently played by the school counselor, someone who realizes that admission to the college or university is a much higher priority than becoming a member of the team. 

Though college coaches at some schools will work with admissions on securing a player, it is always ultimately up to the admissions department to decide whether an athlete gets an offer. After all, who is being served if an athlete has to drop out because he or she is unable to handle the rigor of the academic program?

Just like a good athletic coach,  student athletes can benefit from having someone partner with them in this journey to find the right institution where they will flourish both on the field and in the classroom.


Penny Deck, M.Ed., CEP is a college counselor at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School in Richmond Va.



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