College prep is a big focus of attention for parents. We want to ensure our kids are well equipped when we send them off to pursue higher learning. We help them with SAT skills, we stress academics throughout their youth, and we take them shopping for dorm life.
If your child is an athlete, you must instill another set of life skills and values in him. In the age of social media, rampant NCAA violations, and political correctness a student athlete will encounter an array of different dilemmas as opposed to the average student…
Here are seven things student-athletes should learn before college:
1. There are winners and losers in sports– This generation is too sensitive. In youth sports they want everyone to feel like a “winner”. That’s just not realistic. Everyone does not deserve a medal. There’s a reason it’s called competitive sports and it’s because there is a winner and a loser. Losing sucks but all isn’t lost when a lesson is learned from it.
2. Role models start at home– It’s ok to admire an athlete for on field performance. Just because someone has super human athletic prowess doesn’t mean he won’t make mistakes in life. They’re human. Admire someone’s athletic talent but mold who your child is as a human being from people you know. Role models for character should start at home with family and friends.
3. Social media is your friend and foe– Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram are great ways to stay connected with fans. It’s ok to express yourself but be mindful, there is no such thing as “delete”. Everything lives in cyberspace forever. Keep in mind coaches and recruiters monitor prospective students’ online thoughts. If your child feels passionate about a negative situation, sometimes it’s best to wait it out rather than Tweet it out. Also, don’t forget what a major distraction social media can be. Excessive time spent perusing online can also be spent making yourself better on and off the field. Stay focused.
4. The NCAA & college sports are a business– If your child is recruited for athletics the letters and phone calls will come pouring in. Coaches will say all the right things to woo Junior to their esteemed athletic program. While coaches can be amazing role models, at the end of the day they work for the university which is governed by
pimps the NCAA. Athletics are big money. A recent incident with UGA Heisman hopeful RB Todd Gurley reminded us that when push comes to shove most schools have a CYA degree.
5. It’s ok to let go – As Junior heads off to the halls of higher learning his focus will change from those not on the same path he is. He will see new things, gain a different perspective, and evolve; that’s growth and it’s a good thing. Childhood buds may say “he’s changed”, call him “Hollywood”, or ridicule him for “acting new”. There’s nothing wrong with distancing yourself from others not as goal oriented. When it comes to “keeping it real” keep it real with yourself and your future. Don’t let dead weight hold you back from greatness.
6. Have a backup plan– Just like you have a playbook in sports, Junior will also need one in life. Sports takes a great toll on the body and one day the life as a superstar athlete will come to an end. Make sure your child has a backup plan for life after athletics. While his focus may be perfecting his on-field craft, in the back of his mind he should be formulating a life plan as well. Just like he takes full advantage of top notch coaching, training, and facilities he should also utilize resources for education, business, and networking.
7. Mom is proud of you– Your student-athlete will endure high expectations and criticism throughout his athletic tenure. Sometimes Junior will just want to relax and be Junior, not a superstar athlete. There will be days he just wants to kick back in his childhood room, eat cereal for dinner & play video games all day. That is absolutely ok. Make sure he knows Mom is always a parent first and sports fan second. No matter what he does or doesn’t do with sports, Mom will always be his number one fan regardless.
Academics are an important focus for college prep. However, it’s never too soon to prepare your future student-athlete to be well rounded for the game of life.