The track to being a collegiate athlete

Time management, discipline, and maturity are only few of the many life skills being a high school student athlete teaches you.

“We try to teach some common traits. I would say our coaches consistently preach it’s about the team, it’s about winning, being accountable, being on time communicating. Also, in a school like ours is you have to take care of your school work,” Athletic Director Rock Pillsbury said.

Out of the 393 Sierra Canyon School students, there are 240 who participate in athletics, that is 62% of the school’s population. Many of these athletes will continue their careers at the collegiate level. There are over 80 Trailblazers who have played in college since the upper school was established 11 years ago, that’s approximately eight athletes per year.

Some freshmen and sophomores are ready to be on a varsity level team while others need a year on JV or a year on the bench to mature both mentally and physically before they are ready to compete on the varsity field.

“It varies kid to kid, [junior] Zoe Fleck for example came in here as a very accomplished volleyball player and she stepped right in as a freshman and started on varsity. She was physically and mentally mature when she came in so she was ready,” Pillsbury said.

In contrast, Pillsbury suggests, across the gender line, boys may need more time on JV.

“Most freshman, especially on the boys’ side, are not physically ready. In football we almost have to take as a constant that freshmen will not help us in they are not physically able to compete on a varsity level. They can play JV but they are not ready to compete,” Pillsbury said.

College counselors suggest that as freshman and sophomores, it is an athlete’s job to become the best they can be, all while keeping their grades up before hitting the varsity field.

At this time in the college recruiting process, student athletes should be looking into many colleges in order to find what type of school fits them best. Sierra Canyon provides access to “College Coaches Online” that provides the contact info to every university’s head coach in every sport and every division.

“We here really believe in self-promotion, that can really start for students in their 9th grade year sending emails out… After talking to them about their academic and athletic interests and what schools they can possibly get into, we have students research schools and email the [college coaches],” College Counselor Steve Burnett said.

Come junior and senior year, the emails should contain recruiting videos showcasing the athlete’s skills on the field or court. A general email should contain the contact information for the athlete’s coaches, a schedule for upcoming games, the athletes position, graduating year, and GPA, along with a little bit about their personality.

Come Sept. 1 of the athlete’s junior year, they can make open communication to Division I and Division II schools and go on to visit those school. Athletes can go on as many unofficial visits as they want but, only have 10 official visits (five in Division I and five in Division II). An unofficial visit is when an athlete’s pays for themselves to see a college but an official visit is when the university pays for it and the athlete stays on campus for 48 hours and goes through what it would look like to go there.

“It’s the junior year when things really get going in the recruiting process and its senior year when they are making offers… Usually, if the athlete is highly recruited they will, depending on how far the college is from Los Angeles, visit once before they go through the process or possibly commit,” Burnett said

If an athlete is struggling in the recruiting process there are other options for them. Junior colleges are great ways of getting time to improve and then transfer to the best suiting college as a junior.

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