How to Lose a College Scholarship

It’s recruiting season, and even though this year Ordell isn’t the one sorting through game film and evaluating future players he is still interacting with coaches who are on the hunt for the class of 2018 and 2019 in some cases.

Recruiting is a never-ending process for college coaches, which means it’s always a topic of conversation. As we’ve settled into our roles here in the Midwest, several coaches have asked me key questions about our team. When it comes to recruiting, everything is intentional. It’s important to remember that less than 2% of high school football players will be awarded scholarships at any level of college football.

Coaches have massive pools of candidates to choose from, which means they can wait for the cream of the crop. The best candidates will receive the earliest offers and the best offers.

Here are the Quickest Ways to Lose Out on a College Scholarship:

  • Don’t take the ACT/SAT your Junior Year
  • Don’t lift weights
  • Don’t fill out the FAFSA
  • Skip School or classes
  • Don’t take AP or Dual Credit courses
  • Disrespect your high school teachers
  • Disrespect your high school coaches
  • Don’t return phone calls or texts from recruiting coaches
  • Don’t participate in extracurricular activities
  • Don’t be a good teammate
  • Don’t be a team leader
  • Lie to coaches about stats, grades, behavior, or anything they can verify
  • Talk poorly about your current coaches
  • Be stupid on social media
  • Get suspended

This list isn’t exhaustive, every year I encounter a student who has lost out on an opportunity in a new and unique way. 😉 The good thing is that every one of the items on this list is fixable.

Want to earn that top scholarship at your preferred school? Start in the weight room today.

Parents: Is Your Athlete’s Team Deadlocked?

One of the consistent things about coaching transitions is the shift of team dynamics. The timeline length may shift, but the phases are always the same.

Players and Coaches Transition Through:

  • Honeymoon Phase
  • Reality Check
  • Come to Jesus (Buy-In or Quit)
  • Leaders Stepping Up
  • Moving Forward

This process is one that needs to happen in order for each new head coach to develop the team culture to fit the philosophy they were hired to implement. And the reality is, the quicker a team moves through the first three phases the better off it is for the whole program.

At the high school level, a lot of this process is influenced by an athlete’s parents. It’s become very apparent that a parent has the power to encourage a team to a deadlock if they choose to allow their past experiences influence their child’s present opportunities. So it’s time for a gut check. It’s time to figure out if your team is in a deadlock.

How to Know Your Team is Deadlocked:

  • Do your conversations begin with “We’ve always done it this way”?
  • Do you bring up what the previous coach said/did as a rationale for why your child shouldn’t have to comply with the new coach’s requests?
  • Do you think or say “we will see” when someone says something positive about the new coaches?
  • Do you discuss the reasons why quitting is ok and include it’s new, it’s hard, or it’s different in the list?
  • Do you openly discuss the ways you think the new coach is handling things poorly?
  • Are you frustrated because you assumed things would change to look a certain way and it’s not happening?

If you can answer yes to one of these questions then parents, you need you understand you are contributing to a team deadlock. Further, you are hindering your child’s opportunities for future recruitment every time you keep your child living in the past instead of embracing the present. The best thing you can do for your child is to do your part to help break the deadlock.

How do you Break a Deadlock?

  • Understand someone has to make the first move.
  • Give the coaching staff a chance.
  • Buy in 100% and leave judgment behind.
  • Leave the past in the past.
  • Stop your child’s negative talk and help them see the bigger picture.

Change is rarely something that people embrace. Especially in situations where a coach leaves that parents and athletes loved it can be hard to move forward. But life is constantly changing and a sign of an excellent athlete includes the ability to excel under any coach.

You Need to Make the First Move

If you are waiting for your new coach to prove they want to coach your child’s team you’ve missed the point. When your coach accepted the job they committed to their livelihood being determined in part by your child’s athletic performance. They are already committed.

Now it’s your turn.

Break the Deadlock

  • Join the booster club
  • Bite your tongue when negative words bubble to the surface
  • Above all, encourage your child to embrace the change and buy in.


Camp Is Coming

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We are a few days away from camp starting here. Illinois has a mandatory off week that lifts on August 7th. I’ve watched my coaching friends rejoice as players return to campus for a few days now and I find myself smiling. I’m smiling because this year is different. We aren’t welcoming players this year, they already live here. 🙂

That isn’t the only thing that we aren’t doing:

  • We aren’t squeezing in the last quality family time for months
  • We aren’t stocking the office with food to ensure our favorite coach eats
  • We aren’t saying no to hanging out with people
  • We aren’t prepping the boys for all of the hellos and time focused on everyone but them (in their eyes)
  • We aren’t filling the calendar with activities in the hopes of distracting the kids from the increased stress level.

Distance has revealed that our family was living life on a hamster wheel fogged over with stress. For me in particular, some of this stress could have been released, but the vast majority of it came from a lifestyle that had an unbalanced scale. 90% of the time, energy, and effort was expelled outward with about 10% reserved inward. This might seem reasonable to those of you running the rat race that is college athletics, but I promise you it is a recipe for exhaustion both physically and mentally.

Self-care is not just a buzz word, it is a vital part of living a healthy life. It isn’t something that can be taught in a “do as I say, not as I do” format. Self-care is understood when modeled.

Camp is coming just as it does each fall. This year we are celebrating:

  • Camp is no longer all consuming.
  • Gratitude is present
  • Dinners at home
  • A present Dad
  • Friday nights under the lights

Good luck to my favorites around the country! I’m cheering you on at Olivet (IL and MI), Greenville, Graceland, YSU, others I can’t think of right now. Do yourselves a favor and say no the next 3 things you are asked to do… and think of me and smile when you do so.


College Comparison Questions

college compariosn questions

“Women are like cars, you need to test drive a few before you purchase one.”

“Shut the F… up and listen, you ladies are playing like Bi…. and it stops now.”

“Mary wasn’t a virgin was Jesus was born, conceived yes, but it wouldn’t make cultural sense that Joseph and Mary waited for Jesus’ birth to consummate their marriage.”

It’s Time For A Reality Check

Can we have an honest chat about college? Can we talk honestly while remembering that there is always an exception to the rule? Do you know what these three quotes have in common? They were all said by employees of private Christian colleges. Institutions that require “Statements of Faith” be submitted with resumes and promises of specific living boundaries, often entitled Lifestyle Statements, are signed with W-2’s.

After 2 decades in the private liberal arts college sector, there is a scenario that has repeated itself multiple times each year. It’s best summarized by a dear friend who obtained her bachelor’s degree in her late 30’s. She said,”I feel like I paid a lot of money to go to a Christian institution and it wasn’t any different than a public school.” My friend isn’t the only one asking this question. Millennial students seek authenticity in every aspect of their lives, and that includes their college experience.

Reasons To Choose A Small College

The main reasons I’ve heard for why students have chosen one school over another hasn’t varied that much in 20 years.

  • They want to play sports
  • A friend is also attending
  • There was a specific degree they wanted to study
  • They prefer the small atmosphere
  • They or their parents (usually parents) wanted them to be in an environment where there were fewer chances of peer pressure as well as a spiritual emphasis incorporated into the education and campus experiences

Although there isn’t anything wrong with the list above, the majority of these things aren’t unique to a small college experience. Nor are they unique to a campus that claims to incorporate a Christian emphasis.

The most sensitive subject on this list, in my opinion, is assumption vs. reality surrounding the spiritual emphasis of a campus. Each college campus has a culture which will shift to reflect campus leadership’s priorities. That being said, there are some questions you might consider asking someone familiar with the campus you are considering. You will likely receive the most unbiased and truthful answers from some who aren’t paid to convince you to attend.

Key Questions For Better Insight

  • How many active Bible studies are currently on campus?
  • What is the percentage of the student body which participates in these Bible studies?
  • How are the spiritual tenets of the college’s spiritual formation plan integrated into a typical class, not including chapel (which is often counted)?
  • Whether you are an athlete or not, an important question to ask is what types of spiritual development and leadership development programs the coaches use (Since an athlete spends more time with a coach than anyone else on campus, and are often the largest percentage of the student body this is key)

These questions are meant to dig beyond the surface of what a college’s admissions department is promoting. The most common frustration brought up to me in the last 20 years regarding a small Christian campus is the contradiction between what was presented in an admissions tour or recruiting talk vs. the reality of campus operations.

It’s not uncommon for college campuses to have aspects which align with the college mission and others in the next building which contradict that mission completely. It is those situations which cause students to ask “why am I paying all this extra money for something that doesn’t exist?”

The most recent example that has hit the news is found at Wheaton College, who chose to sweet an incident including successful athletes under the rug. The 5 men involved have all been arrested at the time of this example is included. It is now 9 months past the incident. The college chose to look the other way until the law required a different response.

Another Option

Schools that identify themselves as Christian colleges aren’t the only ones where spiritual support is available.

Interestingly to me, the variety of spiritual support options offered on and around college campuses classified as public colleges and universities is large and varied. FCA, InterVarsity, CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ) YoungLife College, as well as college and career small groups at local churches, offer support and opportunities for students to grow in their faith while in college.

There is a bonus with this option as well. There is no expectation of spiritual development included with the college degree. The frustration element where blame can be placed on the college for lack of Christian focus is eliminated. Legalism is replaced with opportunity. Many students report that since their pursuit of spiritual growth is voluntary as opposed to “forced” by required events or classes it feels more authentic.

Many times the cost of attending these colleges is much less of a financial burden, or at minimum equal to a small college and include many more opportunities.

A Few Additional Items

The divorce rate of our friends and acquaintances is equal. In fact, our circle has been slanted towards those who have graduated from private Christian colleges due to our employment, and the 50% rate of divorce holds true. Meeting and marrying a spouse at a Christian college does not guarantee a marriage until death we do part.

20 years has included hundreds of relationships. We’ve watched just as many people walk away from the church as we have seen run towards it. Their college institution has not been an overall statistical factor. For each personal story of a person who deepened their relationship with Jesus, another decided God wasn’t a necessary part of their life.

At least 80% of those we have interacted with over our service times who have chosen the small college route have graduated deeply in debt. Many then marry someone else deeply in debt and find themselves committing to payment plans extending into their 40’s.

There Is A Place For Small Colleges

For the purposes of this blog post, small colleges will reference colleges that identify with a church denomination, offer chapel services weekly, and require employees to submit a statement of faith upon application.

Small colleges offer a much lower student to professor ratio. Professors are also the ones teaching their classes as opposed to teacher aids which can be common in larger institutions.

A smaller campus atmosphere is one that many students thrive on. Whether a student is coming from a small school or their learning style is one that is strengthened in a more focused atmosphere, fewer students translate to fewer students everywhere. The dorms, classes, and extracurricular activities. Some students bloom in this type of atmosphere.

Finally, many students find that a small college experience offers them a space to explore their faith in a different way than their previous school experiences allowed. The freedom to speak openly about God in a setting that encourages and supports the pursuit of God create opportunities for growth and development of an individual personal faith.

The intention of this post is to encourage a deeper conversation around the college decision. Choosing a certain collegiate environment does not guarantee a specific outcome. Weighing multiple pros and cons will help you and your child make the best decision about their individual future.