When the fall sports season begins Friday, Aug. 30, motivated student-athletes will be trying to get plenty of playing time, compile impressive statistics and get noticed by college scouts.
Recruiting expert Jack Renkins — the founder of Recruiting Realities of Scottsdale, Ariz., and the featured speaker at Tracy High School’s parents night Aug. 15 — said high school athletes can keep playing in college and get money for higher education, but only if they search out the right athletic and academic opportunities.
During his 45-minute speech, Renkins urged student-athletes and their parents to start looking at colleges early, to search beyond high-profile, NCAA Division I West Coast schools and to remember that education is still the primary objective.
"It’s not a four-year decision. This is a 40-year decision," Renkins said. "It’s about finding the right match academically right out of the chute."
He emphasized that student-athletes who start early and refuse to rule out obscure schools in remote corners of the U.S. can find money to pay for their education, including financial aid other than athletic scholarships, and a place to play all four years in college.
"Your son or daughter deserves to go to a college that actually believes in their ability, and where they can get to enjoy the experience," he said.
Renkins stressed that NCAA Division I athletic scholarships go to a small percentage of high school seniors, who have no guarantee that the funding will last beyond their first year.
In his book, also named "Recruiting Realities," Renkins wrote that a high-profile NCAA Division I school may spend up to $1 million on recruiting. Ninety percent of that budget goes to men’s sports, mostly football, and 10 percent to women’s sports.
According to the NCAA’s National Letter of Intent program, about 2 percent of high school seniors get some kind of athletic scholarship to an NCAA Division I or Division II school. The athletic-based funding is good for at least a year, after which the coach recommends whether the scholarship should be renewed.
Meanwhile, Renkins said, schools in NCAA divisions II and III and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics have recruiting budgets of $2,000 or less per team and are hungry for student athletes.
He said Florida high schools are the most heavily recruited in the U.S., and California is solidly in second place.
"There is not a college coach across this country that wouldn’t crawl here to get one of you," Renkins said. "The problem with the kids in California, though — they don’t want to leave."
Tracy High senior Dallyce Marglon, who plays soccer and water polo, said she has been looking for a full-ride water polo scholarship, but Renkins’ talk reminded her that her hunt for college funding must go far and wide.
"There are so many scholarships that people don’t know about, so I’ve been searching around," she said. "I know I wouldn’t play if I go to a D-I right away, but it really hit me that I’d rather go to schools that want me. I definitely would go out of state."
Her mother, Melissa McGinnis, said Marglon’s grades — a 4.0 overall, including 4.3 during her junior year — boost her chances of getting an academic scholarship, too.
Tracy High football coach Matt Shrout met Renkins when he spoke at Kimball High on May 9. Shrout then urged Tracy High athletic director Gary Henderson to invite the recruiting expert to Tracy High.
Shrout said all parents and athletes need to hear Renkins’ message.
"My varsity guys, I’ve told them all, there’s a place for you somewhere in this nation," Shrout said. "You just have to be willing to go and get it."
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.