What Are You Doing for the Other 12?
At 12:01 on September 1, I found my Twitter account overrun with high school students from the Class of 2022 retweeting all the messages they had received from schools informing them that they are being recruited.
This barrage of tweets followed several months of kids announcing their full-scholarship offers to play at Division I programs. If your window into the world of high-school athletics is Twitter, it can be a tough time. It seems that everyone is being recruited.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The odds of a high-school student-athlete winning a full-ride scholarship are better than they are for you winning millions in the lottery - but still not great. The chance that any high-school athlete will play at the college level is 1 in 13. The odds of any high-school athlete playing at the Division I level - where full-ride scholarships are given - are 1 in 57. That's the assessment of Scholarship Stats.
These data points should force coaches to ask a hard question. What are we doing for the 12 out of 13 kids who won't play sports at the next level?
Teaching More Than Character - Moving People to Action
I've thought a lot about this after reading an article in the Washington Post about Jason Vaughn - football coach at Brunswick High School in Georgia. You probably don't know Vaughn; you certainly know one of his former players.
Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death while running. Initially, the perpetrators were not charged. Vaughn, however, took it upon himself to keep the case alive and put pressure on the community to discover what really happened.
His pressure campaign played a significant role in keeping the story alive, and eventually surfacing the video of the shooting that would be a key piece in ultimately charging the suspects.
What Vaughn carries forward is a deeper appreciation for the power a coach has in a community, and the impact that coach can have on all of his players. He doesn't simply encourage his kids to play their best. He doesn't hold out athletic scholarships as a "way out."
Instead, he is challenging his players to understand that the problems we face in life are far greater than they are on the field. But the skills people learn playing football can be a passageway to those greater challenges.
The Post article records a talk he gave to his players following practice one afternoon. “Who is going to be that lawyer, when somebody is accused of a crime they didn’t do? Who is going to be the next police chief to make sure the police handle business correctly?”
Vaughn did not ask for this role. Nonetheless, he has accepted it. And he is showing his players - all of them - that life's battles require warriors, too.
That's what the players at Brunswick High School are learning. A lesson that's as important for the other 12 as it is for those whose careers in athletics will continue beyond high school.
What are you teaching the other 12?