Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Waiting on...National Signing Day

Today is National Signing Day for college football.  It's kinda a big deal in college athletics. Some might even consider this a holiday of sorts.  Earlier this morning, a select few high school prospective student-athletes signed a binding agreement (aka a National Letter of Intent) with the college or university of their choice.  I say a select few because do you realize, that according to the NCAA, only 6.5% of high school senior football players go on to play college football?  That's approximately one out of every 16 high school senior football players.  These are the best of the best!

If I had the chance to write them a letter, this is what I would say..

Dear prospective student-athlete,

Today you signed your name on a National Letter of Intent to play college football for the school of your choice.  The day you've dreamed of for so long has finally arrived!  You inked your name on a binding agreement - probably the first one you've ever signed.  By signing this agreement, you've made a promise to the college or university of your choice to play football while you work towards receiving a degree.  But, Signing Day isn't an ending.  Actually, it's just beginning!

I hope when choosing a college or university that you looked at more than just the depth chart, coaches, and football facilities while you were on campus. Did you choose a school that has a major that will launch your career?  Is the city or town you will be living in the next 4-5 years a good fit for you?  Did you meet non-athlete students that you could see yourself becoming friends with?  This will be YOUR school.  Will you be proud to call it home?

You have been blessed with amazing talent.    You are part of a small fraction of hopefuls that is living out a dream.  With great talent comes great opportunities and also responsibilities.  As you go through workouts, practices, and games, remember the other 93.5% of your high school teammates that ended their football career last fall who would give anything to be in your situation right now - even the tough days.

Your scholarship should be treasured and appreciated.  According to statistics released from the NCAA in 2012, the average value of a full scholarship (which covers tuition and fees, room, board, required course-related books, and as of January 2015, schools in the "Power 5" conferences will also cover incidental costs of attending college such as transportation and miscellaneous personal expenses) at an in-state, public school is $15,000 a year.  For an out-of-state public school, the average value is $25,000 a year.  Full scholarships at private schools average $35,000 a year.  Students graduating from college last year left with an average of $33,000 in student loan debt.  Please be thankful for your scholarship!

You will be looked at and treated differently simply because you play football. Treat it as an honor and do good things!  Use your influence to bring attention to a need in your community, to encourage athletes and non-athletes to work together to help others, to erase the stereotype that so many have of student-athletes.  In the off-season, find a cause that matters to you and give of your time.  Spend a few hours each month working at the local food bank, go to an elementary school once a week and read with children, or go to the nearest recreation center and play a game of catch with the kiddos.  You have great influence - use it for good!

Choose wisely who you associate with.  You will have people come into your life that will not have your best interests at heart.  Oprah Winfrey says it perfectly  - "Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down."  Look who hangs around when things aren't going great - these are the people that really care about you.

Be kind and gracious to everyone you encounter.  From the trainer that wraps your ankles, to the manager that makes sure you have clean gear.  From the academic tutor who wants to help you learn, to the janitors that clean your dorm.  Everyone around you truly wants to see you succeed.  Treat them with the appreciation and respect they deserve. 

Have fun, study hard, and really think about what you want to be when you grow up.  While you might have hopes and dreams to play at the next level, you will more than likely enter the real world once you finish playing football in college.  The NCAA estimates that only 1.6% of NCAA college football seniors will get drafted by an NFL team.  And, even if you do, football won't last forever. Have a back-up plan.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this - embrace your university and surrounding community, stay humble, give thanks, serve others, be gracious, and make wise choices.  These will be some of the best years of your life!

Congratulations on signing your National Letter of Intent.  I wish you much success!  May God bless you and keep you!  Now go out there and make us proud!

Signed,
just a fan

6 comments:

  1. As the mom of an athlete I loved this of course!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was hard to write! I couldn't get my thoughts to come out the way I wanted but I hope it came out the way I intended. :)

      Delete
  2. Beautifully written! Wish I knew some athletes I could pass this onto!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great advice...you are such a natural at writing!! So proud of you!

    ReplyDelete

I love when you leave comments! So...what are you waiting for?! :)