I’ve emailed many coaches on the behalf of some pretty good ballplayers – prospects that could play at a high level someday. What was the most common response from coaches, you ask? Was it – how is his breaking ball? How are his mechanics? How is his changeup? Nope. Nope. Nope. The question every college coach asked was….
“How are his grades?”
I’m not writing this to earn brownie points with parents. Rather, I’m writing this as a wakeup call for the baseball players who think they can get mediocre grades and make it as a D-1 baseball player. YOU CAN’T.
Reality: High School Is Easy.
High school is easy. REALLY easy. College isn’t, especially the good ones. If you’re getting a 2.5 in high school be prepared to probably fail out in college (sub 2.0 is failing out). And, do you know what makes college even harder? If you answered “Playing 56 games in 80 days while having practices on most of the other 24″…DING DING DING! You’re correct! D-1 baseball is incredibly time consuming, and coaches are only forced to give one day off per week (which doesn’t necessarily always happen).
The NCAA has been cracking down on baseball more than other sports because it has by far the worst grades for ALL sports. This is mostly due to the high volume of games, travel every weekend and midweek, the nature of ballplayers as party-ers and beer drinkers (generalization, I know, but true of many). Regardless, it’s hard to find good players who are also even decent students.
The time commitment is huge – I can remember having to write Philosophy papers between the hours of 8pm-2am on Sunday night bus rides home from conference weekend play; it sucked. Hard. Trying to read, comprehend and critique super-dense philosophy text while on a bus with 24 of your closest friends, all of whom are either really pissed off at a losing weekend or celebrating a winning one, is almost an impossible task. Pretty much all homework gets done under such conditions during the season. Needless to say, super-human focus is required to get even marginal grades in the spring. In the fall, practices os 2-4 hours everyday couples with a larger course load. You typically take more fall credits to allow for a slightly lesser spring courseload.
I went to an Honors University – UMBC. It is a difficult school to get in to. It required about a 1350 and 3.8GPA for the average student to gain admission (back when the SAT was based on 1600 pts). Dumb athletes really, really struggled. My best friend transferred to a lesser, academically, state school after a year and he described it as going back to high school. Even then, with all of these athletes who had to be very smart to get in, the average GPA for my baseball team was around 2.6. We hit 2.8 one year during the season and it was the highest team GPA ever for the program. The girls’ tennis team, conversely, led the teams with something like a 3.4. This wasn’t shocking, because the tennis players were nerdy and weird. Also, there were only like 8 of them on a team. Tangent aside, a lot of bright young men who got really good grades and test schools in high school were relatively mediocre students as college baseball players. The guys who were poor students in high school were borderline failing.
The point is that it isn’t easy to get good grades in college, especially while playing a sport. And if you don’t get good grades, you may lose eligibility, and if you’re a JUCO kid trying to transfer, you won’t even have a chance getting the necessary transfer credits if you’re failing classes or getting Cs.
Thus, college coaches seek good athletes who are also good students; it makes their life easier and allows them to count on you to be in the program for the full 4 years, rather than failing and/or transferring out because of academics. This phenomenon is much more common than you’d think.
So, get good grades. I’m not going to preach to you about your future in the real world, blah blah blah – you hear that from everyone (it IS true, however). What I will preach about is that getting bad grades is in direct conflict with the “I want to play college baseball/softball/volleyball/whatever.” If you’re saying that you want to play in college, you prove it in the weight room, on the field, AND in the classroom.
Lastly, don’t expect people to vouch for you if you’re a poor student or have poor behavior. I’ve had this conversation with a few of my athletes, and I won’t ruin my reputation and future ability to shop kids to schools because I lied, saying “he’s a good kid, will go to class and won’t get into trouble.” If I do that and the athlete flunks out or gets in trouble with the law…bye bye connection and credibility. Additionally, those who get good grades are also more likely to be on time to practice, to stay out of trouble, to stick it out when times get tough, and show a good work ethic in other aspects of life.
GET. GOOD. GRADES. I know school sucks. But, GET. GOOD. GRADES. Kthanks.