Walking On: Take Your High School Athletic Talent to the Next Level

OK, so you were a decent athlete in high school… but not decent enough to get looks from coaches and scouts from college. All you want to do next year is play a college sport, but your phone has been quiet all year. “But I led the league in rebounds… I scored 20 goals this season… My fastball is up to 91 mph now…â€? Whatever it is, unfortunately the NCAA has turned a deaf ear. No problem. You still have a chance, though slim, there’s still a way to get on that roster. Get rid of the letters of intent, the scholarships, the good dorm, the guaranteed starting spot and all the other glam that comes from being a recruited college athlete and what are you left with? The walk-on athletes. Yes, I am talking about the hardest working guys on the field, well sometimes.

Back in high school, when you were a 3 or 4-year Varsity starter and try-outs were basically a day off, you knew that no matter what, your role was pretty much solidified. The coaches knew you; the players believed in you and most importantly, the numbers backed you up. You had nothing to worry about. Well, this is a whole different ball game, no pun intended of course. You are alone, unknown and worst, some other players, usually scholarship player’s competition. Beside maybe the other athletes that share the same boat, you do not have a friend in the world right now. Also, the minute you stepped onto the field, you officially lost your name. Prepare to be called: “Hey you!â€? “You, in right field!â€? “Buddy.â€? or “Number 691!â€? This is the time when that old saying becomes a reality… the time when you actually have to make a name for yourself.

Congratulations, you have decided to walk onto to a college sport, you have just paved yourself an extremely difficult road ahead. The important thing is, that it is, in fact paved, which means it is walk able. Besides attending classes multiple times a day, you not only have to possess the talent, the drive to succeed, and the physical strength, but you also need the mental strength. The fact that one mistake, one relapse of hustle, even one missed sign could send you home leaves you in an extreme state of panic. You come to practice one day with less and less people trying out, even the ones you thought were great players, but you have to play with the panic… Let it drive and motivate you, because panic is the only thing you have on your side right now. Believe it or not, returning players and coaches all have this strategy: To break you. If you cannot succeed in an open tryout, why would a coach put you in, or other players believe in you for that matter, when the game is on the line? Raw talent is one thing, as talent can be molded, but if you do not have what it takes mentally, that’s when you become the best player on the intramural team.

The transition from high school sports to the next step, college, is a very intimidating one. You will know after that first open try-out if this is for you or not. After all the training, the pushing, the sweating, the bleeding and hard work, in the end, when the coach pulls you aside or calls you in his office and asks you one question: will give that much effort all year? That’s the first time in weeks you smile and realize, it was all worth it.

 

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