Expectations at the college level for high school athletes

Tips on succeeding as a college athlete

The transition from high school to college athletics can be a challenging one. There will be more demands of your time, more coaches demanding more from you, and better players to compete with and against. Your ability to remain patient and balance your time with sports, with school, and socially will be the key to succeeding as a college athlete. While you may have been a star on your high school team just a few months ago, you are now an 18 year old freshman competing against 21 and 22 year old juniors and seniors who have been playing college athletics for several years now. Work hard, be humble, be patient and find a way to succeed in school and on the athletic field.

  • Don’t expect to be the top player when you show up. Not every player from high school goes on to play college athletics and not only will you be competing against the best freshman from around the country but you will be competing against athletes that have already played in college for 1, 2 and 3 years.
  • Don’t’ expect the coach to be your best friend when tryouts or the season start. The coach could have 50 or 60 players to deal with in a few short days and even though you may have got along great in their office 5 months ago when you met with them, there may be times when you wonder if the coach remembers your name!
  • Don’t be surprised if you show up to tryout for left field and when the coach goes “ok all left fielders go to your position” 12 players run out there. The coach will not usually recruit just one player. There may be players there that the coach didn’t know would be there, such as players who are trying to walk on and didn’t talk to the coach beforehand.
  • Don’t expect to have holidays and vacations off. Many teams play in Thanksgiving tournaments or Christmas tournaments or take a trip during spring break. You might not have a game on Christmas day but you may have a game one or two days before or after making it impossible to fly home for the week to see your family. This becomes more challenging when you attend a school 2,000 miles away from your home. The price you pay for a free education.
  • In the winter, especially at schools where it is cold and/or it snows, you may be practicing at very odd hours of the day. Usually the athletic facilities at a particular school are limited and if the school has a choice of making a facility available to 4,000 students or 25 soccer players, they usually will go with the 4,000 students. This means you may have to practice whenever there is time and whenever there is space and that may mean at 6am before the facility is open to the general student body or at 11pm when the facility is closed to the general student body.
  • Expect to miss some classes because of games and expect professors to hold you accountable for any work you missed.
  • Expect weeks when you have too many games and too many tests and papers. There will be days when you have a road game that does not get back till 11pm and you may have 2 tests and a paper due the next day. First of all, you should have known about this work and the game ahead of time and you should have started your work early so you are not up all night. Second of all, don’t even think of studying on the bus, I have seen many try and it doesn’t work!
  • Don’t expect to play just because your team is getting blown out on a particular day. Coaches don’t like to get blown out, but they also don’t like players to think that they will play if the team does poorly because it can create a negative attitude. Some coaches like to leave players in that are doing poorly to remind them that they are doing poorly and embarrass them enough so they try harder next time. Taking someone out of the game is letting them off easy.
  • Don’t expect to always dress or travel with the team. The bus and bench has only so many seats and sometimes the coach will keep more players on the team for development and practice reasons but will not be able to dress or travel with everyone. This should not be a big deal, because this is better than not playing at all and having to try out again next year.