Recruiting: A reality show for aspiring college athletes

It takes hard work, dedication and skill to become a successful high school athlete. But the story doesn’t end there. It takes just as much hard work, dedication and skill to sell those abilities to the university or junior college of your choice.

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Whether a student plays football, baseball, basketball, soccer or any other sport, the process for getting into a college is the same—much like looking for a job. Unless you’re one of the best in the country, the “employer” isn’t going to come looking for you.

There are several methods out there that players and parents use to get the aspiring collegian noticed. When all is said and done though, there’s one cardinal rule: You have to sell yourself.

A college isn’t going to offer a scholarship if its recruiters don’t know who you are. Whether your noticeability factor comes from showing up to talk to coaches, sending tapes, asking your current coaches for recommendations, or just making a phone call to the target school’s athletic department, there are things you can do to set yourself apart from other athletes.

The problem most athletes face is that they don’t know where to start. Where and to who do you mail things, who can you ask for advice, what do coaches look for from an athlete and at what age should you start looking at prospects.

Consultant Jack Renkens dealt with these issues first hand when his daughter became a highly recruited high school basketball player, eventually packaging his experiences with his coaching and athletic background and founding a company called Recruiting Realities.

“Our primary goal is to show students and families that there are opportunities out there to get funding and to go somewhere where they can play,” Renkens said.

The organization is dedicated to helping student athletes get the most out of their skill set, and give them the best chance to be able to play their sport at the collegiate level. What Renkens focuses on the most is being realistic about where your child can be paid to play, and actually end up playing rather than sit on the sidelines for four years.

“If a school doesn’t pay in some way, shape or fashion, whether it’s a grant, an award, or however, then they don’t believe you can play,” Renkens said. “They’re putting you on a tryout. I’m just trying to eliminate that from happening—a young man or a young woman getting their heart broken that they were misled.”

The reality is that not every athlete is going to receive an offer from Arizona State University or a junior college in a Southern California beach community for a full ride scholarship in their sport. While the opportunity is there if an athlete is skilled enough, the reality is that only one percent of high school athletes will get a full ride scholarship to a Division I school.

“What most people don’t realize is that 83 percent of opportunities lie outside of Division I, whether that’s Division II, Division III or below that. I make it really evident to families that there are ways to help, but it’s a full time job and it’s a commitment. If you want to do this, here’s how you can help and here are the steps you need to take.”

Renkens stresses that while some athletes are skilled enough to get offers from Division I schools, those aren’t the ones that need the most help. Renkens wants to help students open their eyes to the opportunities that are available, not just in Arizona at a Division I school but across the country on all levels for student athletes to get paid to play their sport and succeed.

Renkens will be on hand in the main auditorium at Marcos de Niza High School at 6:30 p.m. Monday Aug. 27.

He will be giving a free presentation to students, parents and anyone else interested in the collegiate recruiting process, thanks to Athletic Director Mike Griffith, who will be hosting the event.

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