Source: Sherman Publications

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Recruitment event dose of reality

by Susan Bromley

August 08, 2012

Brandon Twp.- Young athletes and their parents will get a "dose of reality" during a presentation by a college recruitment expert.

The event, featuring keynote speaker Jack Renkens, president and CEO of Recruiting Realities, is set for 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 13, at the Brandon High School auditorium, 1025 S. Ortonville Road.

The presentation's focus, Renkens said, is primarily to get student athletes and their parents realistic about their options to participate at collegiate level.

"If you are looking to get your education, understand it's not a four-year decision, it's a forty year decision," he said. "Are you going to get funding?"

Renkens will share with the audience the lessons he's learned during many years as a high school and college coach, athletic director and parent of a high school athlete. He travels the country speaking on college recruitment and during the 180 or so presentations he gives, he has three key messages.

The first is that athletes don't get to choose the school. The school selects them. Less than one percent of all student-athletes will play their sport at a Division I school. However, a wealth of opportunities are available for student-athletes at colleges and universities below that level.

In this state, the two biggest schools are the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, but he notes that smaller schools includnig Adrian, Alma, Western Michigan University, Central Michigan University and Hope College may offer better opportunities.

"We stress that you want to go where you can get an education, play, and get funded," Renkens said. "You don't pick the school, they pick you. This is a business-- they don't pay, you don't play."

His second message is that a college coach can't recruit you if he or she doesn't know who you are. Athletes need to market themselves.

Instead of picking seven or eight schools, athletes need to contact at least 100 and instead of sending hefty packets and tapes which college coaches don't have time to review, Renkens recommends they simplify, with just a short introductory letter of 3-4 lines. Video can be streamlined on the internet.

"It's like going fishing," Renkens said. "You gotta get somebody to bite, but you can't take a lot of time. A college coach doesn't have time to research one kid when they are getting 70 kids every week. It's like a resume. Which one will stick out and which one goes in the stack to get a possible interview? Be short and to the point."

He notes that student-athletes and their parents also need to start contacting schools early. In the past, colleges weren't looking at students until their senior years. Now, they are looking earlier and earlier, to where contact can even begin in the freshman or sophomore year of high school.

Renkens' third message is to not get hung up on the term "athletic scholarship."

Parents and athletes need to focus on "funding," which consists of academic money, merit dollars, grants, endowments and achievement funds.

"I really stress that what you are looking for is funding— if it's athletic, all the better," Renkens said. "Parents love their kids, and they will believe anything a college coach tells them. You have to be in a position to negotiate. You have to be able to go and say what each university has offered to you and then say, 'What are you offering?' Those are the things that have to be taught. Put your student athlete in the most positive and beneficial place for their future."

The recruitment event is free and open to the public, particularly geared to athletes of middle school and high school age, as well as their parents.

Athletic Director Don Watchowski will also speak regarding updates to the athletic department and then parents and athletes will see fall sports head coaches to address things for their sport for the year.

"I think there is a sense of enthusiasm and excitement around here that we are moving in one direction together as far as the athletic program," said Watchowski. "It takes a community to run and build an athletic department and we are making strides to make this department a true source of pride in the community."

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