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From the Field to Division 1: A Playbook for Aspiring Student Athletes

If you're dreaming of playing sports at the Division 1 level, you're not alone. Each year, thousands of high school athletes share your goal, and the competition can be fierce. But don't worry; there are steps you can take to stand out and catch the eye of those Division 1 coaches. So, lace up, and let's get started!

1.Talent: Hone Your Skills and Set Goals

First things first, you aren't playing D1 unless you have the talent. Division 1 coaches are looking for exceptional athletes who can make an immediate impact on their team. To get noticed, you'll need to hone your skills and be the best you can be in your sport. Start by setting short-term and long-term goals for your athletic performance. Break down those goals into specific, achievable steps, and practice, practice, practice!

Consider working with a personal coach or trainer, attending sports camps or clinics, and learning from instructional videos or books to improve your game. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither are Division 1 athletes. Stay focused, work hard, and trust the process.

2. Academics: Keep Your Grades Up

Next up: academics. Division 1 schools don't just want athletes – they want student athletes. To be eligible for a scholarship, you'll need to maintain a minimum GPA and meet certain academic requirements. Besides, a strong academic record can make you more attractive to college coaches and help you stand out from the competition. You might even be able to save your school an athletic scholarship, and that'll definitely give you an advantage!

So, hit the books and work just as hard in the classroom as you do on the field or court. Develop good study habits, seek help from teachers or tutors if needed, and take challenging courses that demonstrate your commitment to learning.

3. Make a Game Plan: Research and Target Schools

Alright, it's time to make a game plan. Start by researching D1 schools that offer your sport and have a good athletic and academic reputation. Make a list of your top choices and be realistic about your chances of being recruited. It's okay to aim high, but don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Once you've got your list, learn as much as you can about each school and its athletic program. What's the team's record? Who are the coaches? What's their coaching style? The more you know, the better prepared you'll be to make an impression when it's time to reach out.

4. Build Your Highlight Reel: Showcase Your Abilities

Now that you've got a target list of schools, it's time to show them what you've got! Create a highlight reel that showcases your best plays, skills, and abilities. Be sure to include footage from both games and practices, as well as any awards or accolades you've received. Apps like MaxPreps and Hudl can help you here. Keep your highlight reel short, sweet, and action-packed, and - if yours is a team sport - make it clear where you are on the field by adding an arrow or other marker.

Aim for about 3 to 5 minutes, and be sure to include your name, contact information, and jersey number in the video. Once it's ready, share it on social media and email it to college coaches. Remember, you're trying to make a memorable impression, so put your best foot (or glove, or racket) forward!

5. Get Social: Network with Coaches and Players

In today's world, networking isn't just for business professionals – it's for student athletes, too! Use social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, or MaxPreps to follow and engage with college coaches and teams. This can help you stay up-to-date on news and events, and show your interest in their programs.

Importantly. don't be shy about reaching out to coaches through email or direct messages. Coaches - even big-name coaches - are just people, and people value relationships. Introduce yourself, express your interest in the program, and provide a link to your highlight reel. Be respectful, professional, and enthusiastic in your communications. Remember, coaches talk to each other, so even if one school isn't the right fit, they might know someone who's looking for a player just like you.

6. Be Proactive: Attend Camps, Combines, and Showcases

If you want to get noticed by Division 1 coaches, sometimes you've got to meet them halfway. Attending sports camps, combines, and showcases can provide invaluable exposure and give you the chance to demonstrate your skills in front of college coaches.

Do your research and choose events that are likely to attract coaches from the schools on your target list. When you're at an event, be sure to introduce yourself to the coaches, ask questions, and make a positive impression both on and off the field.

7. Stay Involved: Join Club and Travel Teams

High school sports are great, but if you want to increase your chances of being noticed by D1 coaches, consider joining club and travel teams as well. These teams often compete at a higher level and provide more opportunities for exposure to college coaches.

Playing for club and travel teams can also help you develop your skills, gain experience competing against top-notch athletes, and build relationships with coaches and teammates who can vouch for your abilities.

8. Character Counts: Be a Team Player and Leader

Division 1 coaches aren't just looking for talented athletes; they're looking for players with strong character who can contribute positively to the team culture. Be a team player, both on and off the field. Offer encouragement to your teammates, show respect to your coaches and officials, and demonstrate a strong work ethic.

If possible, take on leadership roles within your team. This might mean becoming a team captain, organizing team events, or mentoring younger players. Showing that you can be a leader will make you an even more attractive prospect to college coaches.

9. Stay in Shape: Prioritize Health and Fitness

To compete at the Division 1 level, you'll need to be in peak physical condition. Prioritize your health and fitness by following a well-rounded workout routine, eating a balanced diet, and getting plenty of sleep. This will not only improve your performance on the field but also show coaches that you're committed to your sport and serious about your future as an athlete.

10. Patience and Perseverance: Keep Grinding

Finally, remember that the road to Division 1 can be long and challenging, but don't get discouraged. Stay patient, keep grinding, and trust that your hard work will pay off. As the saying goes, "It's not about how many times you get knocked down; it's about how many times you get back up."

So, there you have it – your playbook for getting noticed by D1 schools. I didn't say it would be easy, but if you follow these steps, you'll be well on your way to turning your athletic dreams into a reality. Keep your eye on the prize, stay committed to your goals, and don't forget to enjoy the journey. After all, in the words of legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, "The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have."

- Randy Biggs

Owner, Heritage College Prep

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