Competing Beyond High School
High school athletics is a beautiful thing, with friends, teammates, and cross town rivals. However competing in college or the pros is competing for a paycheck; it’s a business. At some point, all athletes consider competing at the top level of competition, weather that be professionally, as an Olympiad, or for college. Often, athletes are in for a big surprise when they venture beyond the cocoon of high school.
Although that may be the dream for little Johnny who wants to play on his favorite big league ball team and play on the U.S. National Baseball team in pursuit of an Olympic Gold. And, little Suzzie may want to play volleyball or fastpitch or run track for a medal or college scholarship.
There are millions of athletes across this great country that want to transition their dream from High School to College, but what does it take? What is the difference between high school and college?
It takes hard work and drive as well as being gifted athletically. Though everyone loves the story of the kid who works his rear end off just to get some playing time on his high school basketball team, how often do you hear about an offensive lineman with slow feet, narrow hips and small hands getting a full ride to a D-I school because he “just plain works hard.” It may seem harsh, but, truly, Division I college football is a billion dollar a year business, and simply “working hard” will not do any good if the results do not give an athlete the ability to be better than the best in the country. Although colleges may be termed “amateur athletics,” head coaches are millionaires, assistants are making six digits and top athletes get $100,000 education for free, and the universities are making billions. Again, an athlete’s “hard work” will not be considered if he or she does not contribute to the winning ways of big money college sports.
At that level, students like Josh Garnett of Puyallup High School, a 6’7” 310 pound mammoth with quick feet and hips only has a shot at making it in post high school sports. Hard work and gifts of size will only get you as far as your win column. Similarly, Zach Banner of Lakes High School with his 6’10” 330 pound frame has offers to play basketball and football at the D-I level, but the promise of a future at such colleges will be gone, if the wins don’t come.
Still, if a student athlete does not have the physical frame that big colleges deem as necessary, there are smaller colleges always looking for guys and gals to fill their rosters.
OHS graduate, Joel Anthony, is playing Football at PLU. An all-state performer at linebacker and a state placer in wrestling last year in the 215 pound weight class,, Joel still found himself paying for most of his education. He was as gifted an athlete as OHS can produce, but still ended up paying for most of his education; no free ride, and probably no big-league future.
There are stories like these all over America. Talented high school athletes often do not make it to the level of a rich post-high school sports star. Rather, they must be content and look back in fondness at their time in high school competition. They must be happy to play for the love of the game while they have the opportunity. College sports have little to do with such love; college sports and beyond are about business.