Its what we do every dayw ith our company. We guide and educate coaches, parents, athletes, organizations, and medical professionals about balanced excellence, BOTH mentally and physically. We call it the "rental car" syndrome with young athletes. Looks okay on the lot, but it has been driven way to hard for too long, and it is not how good it appears outside as it really is on the inside.
Diane Scavuzzo: For the elite players, what recommendations do you have?
VJ Stanley: I would first ask the question, what is your definition of an elite athlete? I would then ask who is telling this athlete that they are elite. About 80% of a college coach’s time is spent on recruiting. College coaches have access to many different ways to find and evaluate elite athletes. They have assistants who go out and watch athletes play every day.
The pool of athletes for a Division I scholarship is truly global now. So you may think you are an elite athlete when in fact you are only a big fish in a small pond.
There are a limited number of scholarships available athletically. There are 77 times MORE non-athletic scholarships than athletic ones and very few full athletic scholarships to college, so I would say emphatically, STUDY! Hit the books! It is very unlikely that any athlete cannot be found if they have talent.
Now, if a Division I coach has told you that you can play at that level, and not your youth coach, any relative, a “wanna be” scout or a scouting service, my advice for you would be to keep your grades up, get plenty of rest, make sure you are having fun playing your sport, and to balance your athletics with academics.
Don’t get caught up in the hype of having to play on this one specific team. Find a team that encourages a positive attitude, modeled by the head coach, with humility, accountability and sportsmanship. If you combine talent with that paradigm, a college coach will find you. In the very odd chance that you are not found and have talent, there is a thing called “walk-ons” in college sports, and you can try out when you show up to the college of your choice.
What happens after the bright lights are turned off?
I am certainly happy for the kids on the four teams that have made it to the final four. These kids are living a mostly once in a lifetime dream. Some parents too. The odds of getting here are very slim.
Most kids these days play one sport year round. The players on these teams must be in tremendous shape to be able to play at this high level for this long. It is even more amazing because most coaches only play 6, 7, or 8 kids in a close game. Some don’t play more than that even when they are winning or losing big.
These kids’ bodies and minds take a tremendous year round pounding. Their game and travel schedules are imposing to say the least. You combine this with their academics, and you have what amounts to a full time job.
What these kids have had to endure throughout their season and career to get to this point is amazing. The constant travel schedules, the showcases, the many leagues all take their toll on athletes and families.
The risk of overuse injuries are percentage wise, not in their favor. Yet, they compete. They compete hard for long periods of time for their team, their future, and adult’s glory. These kids disregard their personal well being in hopes of winning a scholarship and maybe a championship.
The future consequences they face when this is over are massive. For a very few a lucrative NBA payday lies ahead. BUT, even for these few, long term financial security is microscopic at best.
What happens after the lights are turned off? How many of these kids graduate? How many get a meaningful degree? How many have learned coping skills and life lessons they can apply to future endeavors?
I am not saying that the colleges, the coaches, or even AAU is responsible here. They are businesses doing their thing. They would not have a market if the parents did not want their product, and want it badly. Many products are sold every day all over the worlds that don’t have the consumers’ best interest at heart.
Who picks up the pieces when hearts, bodies, and minds have been broken?