For most top high school athletes their aim is to compete at the NCAA Division I level. Top players aim high, as they should if they have the skills and the drive to continue playing at top levels. Student-athletes who choose the college route might have dreams of making it to the professional level, but will also have a fall back if they finish college and obtain the skills they need to have a successful career.
Most families of student-athletes expect their child will finish high school, keep up their grades and attend a good college where they can continue competing and growing. This is a great and sensible plan, but what if the plan does not quite work out that way?
Don’t Compromise Your Eligibility
In a recent article by the Minneapolis Star Tribune it was reported that three Minneapolis high school student-athletes chose to play in a semi-professional Canadian league rather than finish out their high school varsity seasons as team captains and then pursue a career playing at the NCAA level.
These student-athletes believed that by trading up to play with other semi-pros and pros that they would have a better shot at making it to the NHL.
An Uncertain Leap
Making it to the NHL or any professional sport league is a difficult challenge for any high school student as well as a decorated college graduate, so why did a handful of hockey players give up their senior year of high school and valuable college years to make this uncertain leap? According to the article at least one of the athletes that cut out on his senior year did not have the grades or drive to attend college or an accredited NCAA institution, limiting his opportunities for life after high school.
Be Aware of Your Options
Will these athletes later regret their decision not to attend college right after high school or will they get drafted out of the semi-professional league? As a student-athlete you must be aware of all of your options, whether it is taking that unconventional route or the college path. Being educated and taking the time to grow as a student as well as an athlete is a skill that will constantly be developing.
Here is why eligibility matters. Young athletes who make the decision to play with professionals while also receiving a paycheck for their efforts will no doubt lose their NCAA eligibility and no longer be able to play sports at the top competitive levels. When a player chooses to forfeit his eligibility he is giving up playing collegiate sports at the NCAA levels because of strict NCAA rules and regulations.
Student-athletes must be smart and aware of the decisions they make throughout their sports career. Educating yourself early in your athletic career will only open up greater collegiate opportunities that may have never been opened without hard work in the classroom and on the field. Don’t limit your opportunities after high school, maximize them.