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A PSA Around Scholarships

iaparentiaparent 266 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
With the start of the new school year and the new influx of high school freshmen I thought it would be a good time to lay out a discussion I had last night as a cautionary tale.

I coach high school diving and given diving is not a huge club sport in our area I tend to get a lot of first time freshmen coming out for the team. About every other year I get an athlete that isn't sure if they want to swim or dive and since we are all one team let them try both and make a decision after a week or so.

This year we have a girl in this situation. She started swimming the first couple of days and just can not keep up. She decided she wanted to try diving and while she is very much a beginner she is not outclassed by the other beginners. She came to me last night to talk about being a diver rather than a swimmer. I welcomed her aboard and that is when the tears started.

Her parents are pushing her to swim rather than dive because "she has to get a scholarship" and "when is the last time you heard of a diver getting a scholarship". This girl, the night before her first day in high school classes, is in tears due to the unrealistic expectations of her parents.

We talked at length and I let her know I would contact her parents. I sent them an email directing them to resources around the scholarship process and availability and pointed out that roughly 5% of high school athletes compete in college and about half that receive any kind of athletic scholarship. Our team has roughly 50 girls each year so overall it equates to about 1 girl in each class will receive some athletic money which is about what we actually see over time. I also explained how swimming works with the limited number of scholarships, how they are divided up and that not every school is funded. I gave examples of the divers in the NCAA that are receiving significant money (national team members) as well as a close to home diver that was an All-American and state finalist that was lucky to find a walk on spot at his school of choice.

I am not sure how they will take my email as they have not yet responded. There is a chance I could have offended the parents and shattered their dreams. I would hope that they took the email in the spirit it was intended, to educate and dispel notions sooner rather than later so their daughter can enjoy her experience as opposed to the stress not measuring up to unrealistic expectations has brought her this week.

I closed the email with a quote from a senior parent of my son's water polo team during his freshman year. "This has been a great ride and we have had a lot of fun along the way. In the beginning we had dreams of that college scholarship which were never realistic. Accepting that likelihood now will give you much more enjoyment watching your son grow, compete, and be successful. I wish I had someone telling me this 4 years ago because as much as we have enjoyed it, it would have been better had we known."
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Replies to: A PSA Around Scholarships

  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 38099 replies2086 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    Yes, we were surprised when the UT-Austin track coach told us that most recruited runners receive only enough money to pay for books! I wish we had been told that when DS was a freshman.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6579 replies54 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Yes, we have seen the same- including close to home, with family members pushing the club sports on their kid(s) to help them either get scholarships or into colleges that would be otherwise out of reach. A lot of parents don't realize how early (unofficial) recruiting starts, either. The students I know who have gotten serious athletic money were all known (or on teams that were known) to recruiters by the time they started 9th grade.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29243 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I know of very few swimmers or divers becoming recruited athletes, let alone getting scholarship money. Starting the sport in high school and becoming good enough to swim college???

    For that matter, getting any sport scholarship.

    My nephew was a top high jumper in high school. With his numbers , it was commonly thought he’d be good to go as a recruited athlete. Maybe some money in it. Ha! Not s thing. He could walk on and give it a go, but not a quarter as a recruiter athlete.

    Unless a student is the way up there in a sport, counting on an athletic scholarship is a pipe dream. Even so, playing the Athletic card game is nerve racking with no guarantee.
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  • Darcy123Darcy123 259 replies6 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Probably 10-15 kids a year are recruited from my son's swim team (club) - probably 5 or so had serious scholarship money attached this round (and all 5 have Olympic trials cuts). Others went to Ivys (where no doubt their swimming played a huge role in their admittance) or smaller D1/D2 programs without a lot of scholarship money. There's no mystery to level to be recruited for swimming - many programs will actually list cut times for when they'd be interested (and how many you need). The programs that also have substantial scholarship money is also pretty well known. The vast majority of programs are going to be partial at best scholarships.
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  • Ohiodad51Ohiodad51 2459 replies41 threadsForum Champion Athletic Recruits Forum Champion
    @iaparent, good on you for trying to educate and inform the parents of your newest diver. Sports, especially at the lower levels like high school level, should never be about potential remuneration. Play because you want to. Sports have so much more to offer than dollars or slots.
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  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 3935 replies26 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 16
    I was the annoying parent on my D’s club teams, trying to get other parents to be realistic. I educated myself from the time my D was in elementary school about scholarships and was not taken in by coaches trying to recruit her with their promises of college scholarships. I
    Many parents didn’t believe me. My D decided not to play in college. We kept up with her friends and the ones who were all about the scholarships sent their kids to some really mediocre schools (schools you’ve never heard of) just to say they got an athletic scholarship. This is after spending 5 figures a year on the sport. My D is a college junior now and we’re seeing lots of them quit their sports and transfer to decent schools. My D ended up better off than all of them going the academic merit route, which I tried to explain to them years ago.
    edited August 16
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22666 replies15 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Like @Darcy123 we've had a lot swimmers get scholarships from this area but these are kids who have been swimming since they were 5 on the teams at the local swim and tennis clubs and on top state high school teams. Some are on the Olympic team (or trying out now). They also picked their colleges by their swimming opportunities; one guy went to North Dakota (and then they ended the men's team). Some really needed the grades to go to Colorado School of Mines and parlayed merit and athletic money.

    My former SIL did go to college with a diving scholarship, but that was 40 years ago. She was the 5th best in the country, but at that time only the top 2 went to the Olympics so she had no chance of making the team. That worked out since it was 1980 and the USA didn't go to the Olympics that year. But really, 5th best in the country and she wasn't recruited by Florida (where she was raised) or other schools in the SEC or ACC, but in Colorado because that's who gave her the scholarship money.

    I do have a friend whose daughter started with a partial scholarship at Fordham and had a full tuition scholarship by her senior year. Problem is paying for those first years to get to senior year.
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  • planitplanit 171 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    The parents in this case are obviously delusional, but there IS swim money for those who don't have Trials cuts, especially girls. I argue about this on here from time to time but usually don't bother on the grounds that everyone is so convinced otherwise. My daughter was offered 50% of COA from one school and 100% of COA from at least two more. She is transferring after her freshman year, and even as a banged-up transfer (thanks, medical staff at School No. 1!) entering the portal after most of the swim money was allocated, has received 50% of COA at her transfer school, with a promise of more to come. Is the transferee school a powerhouse academic institution? No, but (1) neither is she; and (2) one of the original full-ride offers was from what anyone would consider an excellent academic school. Nor is she the only one in her peer group to receive substantial athletic money from swim, and no one in her peer group had Trials cuts. They were strong club swimmers in a strong swim state, with multiple Sectional and a couple of winter or summer Juniors' cuts, and there are a lot of mid-major D1 schools with money to give.

    But I certainly agree that the parents of the girl described in the original post have no idea how these things work; on the other hand, in real life, in my kids' intense involvement in three different sports, I would estimate that 98% of sports parents actually have a pretty good handle on their kids' chances (or lack thereof). For whatever reason, however, 98% of non-sports parents THINK sports parents are delusional, but that is the American way, I suppose.
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  • iaparentiaparent 266 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Here is an update on my original post.

    I received an email from the parents than king me for the information and an explanation of their actions. They explained that their perspective was the daughter had spent a few years swimming at the YMCA and had just started to see some improvement and they did not want her to give up swimming just as she was seeing some of the fruits of her labor. They said that they dangled the scholarship piece as a carrot to continue but they were under no delusions. In the end they said their daughter's happiness was most important so whatever she decided was fine with them. I read this with cautious optimism as they said all the right things but something just didn't ring true. It read more like the parents were embarrassed of their actions and that they got called on it and were covering up but either way the pressure seemed to be off the daughter so it was a win.

    The girl finished the week up with the divers and was improving each day. Saturday we had our team kickoff meeting with the girls and their parents after practice and I laid out the goals and expectations for the season.

    Sunday night I received another email from the parents informing me that they had sat down as a family and the daughter had made the decision to return to swimming. I realized my intial thought that the parents "said all the right things" was just that talk and they ultimately still were pulling the strings. At this point I decided I had enough other athletes to be concerned with and I had done all that I could for this one girl.

    Yesterday I bumped into the girl before practice. She hung her head and apologized for wasting my time. I told her she had no reason to apologize and if the "tryout" helped her find the path she wanted to pursue then it was not a waste of anyone's time. She looked at me, with tears in her eyes, and said the decision was made for her, her parents are forcing her to swim.

    A sad situation for a young girl but one I have done everything I can do to help but helicopter parents are going to helicopter.
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  • Darcy123Darcy123 259 replies6 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thanks for the info @planit Most of the buzz at my son's team is around the very top swimmers while I know those top 5 had very good offers, I wasn't as sure about the other 10 or so who go on to swim (other than the no athletic money ivies of course). My son has a few sectional cuts (just off summer jr national in his best stroke) and has heard from a few mid/low-tier D1s. We really weren't sure what to expect with scholarship money. Things are usually quite different for boys vs girls though.
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  • toomanyteenstoomanyteens 1001 replies59 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    All true - I was gobsmacked when my daughter was offered a full ride at a D1 school to play lacrosse (it is probably the worst ranked program in the country, I swear) -- and while it was tempting we decided against it because it just wasn't the right place for her to be (academic or lacrosse) -- that said she went D2 and gets a very minor scholarship but she LOVES it which is the important part.
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