In high school, I was never a good enough athlete to catch a coach’s attention based on my athletic achievements. At the time, I thought this was because I wasn’t good enough to be a college athlete, but now realize it was because I didn’t know how the recruiting process worked. I ran cross country and played basketball and golf. I was a good runner, but happened to be on the team with one of the best runners in California. I was a better golfer, but I wouldn’t even win my own league (that went to a kid who got a DI scholarship). I played basketball but it was clear my ceiling was low in that sport. In short, I was like most high school athletes.
From Junior College to UnRecruited Walk-On
I wanted to continue to play golf in college, but I had received exactly zero interest from any colleges, including my local Junior College. After contacting the coach there and finding out I was good enough to make the team, I decided I would start college there. I figured I could save money, get better and a college coach at a four year school would find me.
As my two years were wrapping up, I wasn’t receiving any interest (I hadn’t called any coaches) and while I was looking at the most affordable options for college, I found an in-state DII school. I contacted the coach there and he was willing to give me a chance as an unrecruited walk-on. This meant I had to get into the school on my own and make it through a four day try out where 12 golfers were competing for one spot on the team. Long story short, another guy and I were tied after four days and the coach put us both on the team. I was ecstatic, but soon realized; I was going to be doing little more than practicing and would never really see any tournaments. I share those lessons about being a walk-on here.
One Man’s Walk-On is Another Man’s Scholarship
While in college, I continued to run, though not racing and on a whim entered the school Turkey Trot. I ran well and won the free turkey; my roommates and I were happy to have some free food. Surprising to me, after the race the cross country coach approached me and said he could offer me a 50% scholarship to run next year! As I would come to realize, the team was terrible (we got last in every race). But for me, it didn’t matter; I could stay on the golf team and never get to compete or take a scholarship, run cross country and while I didn’t finish last, have to be on a last place team. I took the scholarship and opportunity to run cross country and used out the rest of my eligibility.
Had I Known Then What I Know Now
My recruiting process and college experience wasn’t typical but it certainly showed me a lot about how college sports, recruiting and scholarships actually work. Before college, I assumed you play in high school, coaches discover you if you are good enough and opportunities present themselves. The truth is, you made your own luck and good enough is only relative to the schools you are looking at. That is what this website and our company is all about!
Does this story raise any questions for you? Are you a “normal” high school athlete trying to get recruited but not sure where to start? Contact me in the comments below, on twitter or get my email from my Google+ page.