Ask Rylee: Advice to prospective college athletes

Written by: Rylee Evans, staff writer

“Ask Rylee” is an advice column written by Staff Writer Rylee Evans. Evans is a sophomore communications major with a digital media option and a Biblical Studies minor at Bryan College. She is from Pikeville, Tenn. and graduated from Bledsoe County High School. She is on the women’s soccer team, and she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, hunting and fishing. 

In this “Ask Rylee” article, Rylee answers the question “What’s some good advice you have to someone who wants to get a soccer scholarship?” asked by @rodigueclaire. Rylee is a soccer coach at Bledsoe County High School and Claire is one of her players. 

Playing sports in college may be a dream for some people. Being a college athlete is an experience of a lifetime. You get to be mentored by trained coaches, play with experienced players and travel to play the sport you love. 

However, it’s not easy. It is a long process that you have to work for. Most people start their preparation in middle school by playing on select teams and advancing as much as possible in their sport. Some start their process in high school, which is still possible, but much harder. 

I was one of the people who started the process extremely late. I started playing soccer seriously in my junior year of high school. I had to learn a lot in a short amount of time. I had to get my head on straight and focus in order to achieve my goals. 

I found a good select team, Premier Soccer Academy coached by Pedro Kozak, to help advance my knowledge and experience. I had to put in a lot of extra work on my own time. I took every training session seriously and tried my best to become a better player. 

On top of all the hard work and time I put in, I had a passion for the sport. I loved training and playing. If you do not have a passion for the sport, do not try to play it in college. When you play in college, it will start to feel like a job rather than a sport. 

I am not saying you will never have fun in college. Participating in college sports can be the time of your life. It will be extremely competitive and there will be a lot of pressure on how you perform. However, you will make friends on the team and learn so much. In reality, you are getting paid to play the sport you love. If that isn’t enough, there will be free gear and food.

If you are in high school and you want to play college sports, there are a few things you should know. 

  1. The college level is more competitive. 

You may be the best player on your select team or high school team, but when you play in college, you are surrounded by athletes that are as good as you. You may not get to start and you may not even get to play. That does not make you a bad player. You must have thick skin and confidence in yourself in order to continue to compete for a spot. 

Even if you do get to start and you get lots of playing time, that does not make you the best player in your position. You can’t ever get complacent. There are always players moving up and trying to earn playing time. Stay humble and keep working to maintain your spot on the field.

There are different division levels in college. Some are more competitive than others, so you need to be aware of which level you want to play on. You also have to be realistic with yourself. Personally, I would want to actually get to play instead of sitting on the bench. So, find what level that is for you. NCSA offers an article called The Difference in the College Division Levels explaining the division levels in detail. I encourage you to research that as you are in the recruiting process.

  1. Be aware of the college admissions process.

Don’t just settle for the college your parents or siblings went to. Make a list of all the potential colleges you think you would like. Schedule a tour of the school and sit in a class. You won’t just be an athlete, you will be a student as well. If something happens where you can’t play anymore, you should still be proud and happy at the school you choose. 

The Princeton Review wrote an article titled Applying to College as a Student-Athlete. The article gives good college admission tips for athletes. “Understand the rules of recruitment.

If you have your eye on a varsity sport, be aware that members of the team are usually recruited by college coaches. There are rules for when and how coaches can get in touch with you. Check out the NCAA recruiting guidelines.  Plan ahead for NCAA Eligibility. If you are applying to Division I or II schools, you will also need to meet NCAA Eligibility. These academic standards include required courses, GPA cut-offs, and SAT/ACT score minimums. Eligible students may practice, compete, and get NCAA funding for their first year in college. Raise your GPA. NCAA Eligibility does not mean automatic admission! You’ll still have to go through the school’s admission committee, so work to get good grades in challenging courses.”

  1. Schedule a practice with the team. 

After you schedule a tour of the school, contact the coaching staff of that college and tell them you are interested in their athletic program and would like to practice with them. They may or may not let you. However, if they do, come prepared. They will be looking at not only your skills on the field but your social skills as well. Almost every college coach will be looking for a good player and a good teammate. You want to prove to the team and coach that you can help advance the program. 

If they don’t allow you to come practice with them, go watch their practice or a game. Watch how the team responds to the coach and vice versa. See if you like the coaching style of the coach because that is important. The coach will (most likely) be mentoring and teaching you for the next four years of your life. You will want to have a good relationship with your coach and have the desire to perform well for him/her. 

For more tips on an unofficial visit, NCSA has an article, Your Guide to Unofficial Visits, that offers great tips and answers several questions about visiting a college and coach. 

  1. Online profiles and highlight videos won’t get you recruited.

I made three online profiles and a good highlight video that I sent to all the coaches I could think of. However, none of those things got me recruited. I got recruited by practicing with the team. College coaches know that you can be playing against a bad team in your highlight video and you can look really good for that reason. They usually don’t pay much attention to your video. It is good to have, but do not rely on that alone. 

USA Today High School Sports wrote an article about recruiting tips called Recruiting Column: 10 simple recruiting tips that will make a difference. The article explains, “The most effective way to use an online profile/resume is for you (the recruit) to share a link to your profile with the coaches you have identified as realistic possibilities. Don’t wait around and hope the exact right coach accidentally stumbles upon your profile. It’s probably not going to happen.” They encourage you to make a highlight video as a foot in the door with the coaches. “Consider your recruiting video as a “virtual handshake” or introduction to any college program in the country.”

Don’t forget to enjoy it and have fun! 

If you’d like to ask Rylee for advice, send in your question to her Instagram @ryleerevans or the Bryan Triangle’s Instagram @thebryantriangle.

*Note: this article expresses the ideas and opinions of the author and are not a reflection of the views of the Triangle or Bryan College as a whole.