Getting a baseball scholarship will be a lot more realistic with these tips. There is money available for the athletic high school student who wants to go to college, but you have to know how to stand out among all the other applicants.
- The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) supports baseball scholarships in Division I and Division II schools-almost a thousand per year!
- The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) sponsors fewer than the NCAA, but they’re still available.
- The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) also offers scholarship opportunities.
How do you market yourself to attract some of these funds? You can start out by familiarizing yourself with the websites of the above organizations. Each has its own stipulations and requirements. For instance, the NCAA sponsors spring baseball; the NCJAA certifies both fall and spring programs.
You have to put your initiative to work! And it takes a lot more than just relying on your coach. Too many young men grow up relying on the coach to tell them everything, starting all the way back in T-ball or Little League. It becomes a bad habit that you have to break. This is something you have to do for yourself! You can start with your coach, however, by asking him to direct you to scholarship brochures that he has received or go to your school’s guidance office for more information.
Put together a package of highlight tapes and letters that you can send to the coaches and schools that interest you. If your photo was in the local newspaper, get a print directly from the newspaper office and reproduce it (with their permission) for your package. Ask your coach and other key staff, even your school principal, to tell you one thing they really notice about you, and use those quotes when you put your package together or send out letters.
Whenever there’s a specific college that interests you, your goal should be to put your name in the coach’s mind at every opportunity you get. Even if you’re just in town for the game, stop by and shake hands with key personnel. Make yourself visible. After you’ve seen him, send him a friendly note to let him know how great it was to talk with him.
Tailor Your Approach.
With each college that you approach, do some research to find out what the coach is like and what he’s searching for in players. Some coaches just love hotdogs, like it or not. And others really prize the team effort. So sit down and take some time to consider what you offer to a team. Talk it over with a parent, your coach, your girlfriend, or another adult whom you respect. Think about why you love to play baseball and what you mean to your team. Then, when you’re going on interviews, with one coach you’ll want to describe your personal best efforts; with another coach, you might want to emphasize your overall contribution to the team.
Know What the Coach Wants.
Do your research on the team. No matter what your best skill is, look at what the team needs. Is this the year that they are recruiting power hitters? Do they need outfielders? Maybe this season they’re just looking for smart base runners with a good sense of timing. This goes back to the marketing work you’ve done: If the coach needs base runners, make yourself a good fit for that team.
Know Who the Coach Is.
Do your research on the coach, too! Find out who his favorite players are and which teams he loves. If you both share a religious belief, and a natural opportunity presents itself, you can let him know-but don’t be a pain in the neck about it!
Don’t Take No.
Face it, unless you’re the next Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter, you’re going to get turned down a few times. But don’t give up after a couple negative responses. If you hear one or another scout grumbling and getting negative, tune it out. It’s just one person’s opinion. You have two options here: You can try to change that person’s opinion by adding something to your package, whether it’s those highlights of your best stuff that you didn’t bother submitting before, or angling to run into the scout again to reconnect with him. Your second option is simply to move on to another school. If you take no for an answer, you’re selling yourself short and letting all your hard work go for nothing.
Research All Your Options.
For example, there are differences in qualifications for NCAA versus NJCAA and NAIA, or between Division I and Division II schools. And besides college scholarships, there are organizations like the Dixie Boys Baseball or the American Legion that give out small baseball scholarships of one or two thousand dollars. Since most colleges divide their total scholarship money among many recruits, every extra little bit can help.
Keep up your level of enthusiasm, and don’t stop trying. Move toward success. Don’t allow yourself to become discouraged! Somewhere out there is a team that has a spot for you, and you just have to find it.