High school students looking for the opportunity to continue their athletic and academic career should consider their options to walk-on to a program. We have discussed options for seniors such as postgraduate studies and junior college, but walking on to a program gives athletes the opportunity to try out for a school that they are interested in playing for. Walking on is a great option because you cannot just wait for a scholarship after you have graduated.
What is a Walk-on?
A walk-on athlete is one that makes the team but does not receive any athletic scholarship; walk-ons are still eligible to receive academic aid though. Athletes can choose to walk on to a program for a variety of reasons. In some cases, coaches already have all of their scholarship money allocated for a student’s graduation year. Other times, athletes may try to play slightly above their competition level, or they have started the recruiting process too late.
If you are considering walking on, spend some time researching the program and your prospects of making a particular team. Look at the athletes that are set to graduate and what athletes a program has signed in your class. Contact the coach to get more information about a program and to see what your prospects are of making the team. Just because you walk on to a program does not necessarily mean you just show up for tryouts one day. Walk-ons regularly communicate with coaches before applying to a college. These athletes are called “preferred walk-ons.”
Walk-ons Can Have a Big Impact on a Program
A great example of a non-scholarship athlete making a big impact on a team is Stanford’s Brett Michael Doran. He was not technically a walk-on because he was a non-scholarship athlete, but the process is very similar. He entered Stanford without any aid, knowing he would have to work extra hard to compete with the scholarship athletes for opportunities and playing time. Now, in his sophomore season, he has taken over at shortstop and is the lead-off hitter for one of the top teams in the county—a team that he dreamed of playing for his entire life. He is also likely to receive scholarship money in the future if he continues to succeed in his new role.
There are no guarantees for athletes when they walk on, but if you take the right steps and work hard, you could end up like Doran, playing your sport for your dream school.