From the Dawg Pound: Scholarships for Women
How young women athletes can earn money for school
I have worked in Ramona now for seven years and have noticed the need to provide more accurate information to parents and kids in our community about the scholarship process for high school student athletes. As parents, we all want and “think” that our son or daughter will get that big scholarship. This is a good thought to have as long as parents understand the “factual odds” and exactly what can be done. From spending nine years of my career recruiting the country and working on the other side, I can tell you that, if your son or daughter is good enough, takes school seriously, takes the SAT or ACT, usually the sport will find them.
Scholarships for Women: Come and Get ‘Em!
The dream of getting a college athletic scholarship can be a powerful incentive for gifted young female athletes. Today there are 9,087 women’s college sports teams and more than 167,000 female varsity athletes compared to about 30,000 back in 1972 when the gender equity law Title IX was enacted. Title IX requires equal opportunities between the sexes in educational programs that are federally funded and has produced numerous opportunities for girls to have part of their college education paid for by their sports participation.
And that’s the catch. Only a small percentage of the most elite female athletes get a full scholarship to college — the vast majority of men and women who receive scholarship money have only a portion of their bills paid for by the athletic department. College coaches are skilled at stretching their budgets by giving partial scholarships to as many athletes as possible. So where is the money and how does one go after it?
Admittedly, odds are very remote that a high school athlete will get an athletic scholarship to college. There are roughly 138,000 athletic scholarships available for Division 1 and 2 sports (men and women). As one example, more than 600,000 girls compete in Track & Field in high school, and there are only about 4,500 college scholarships in this sport, which means only the very best sprinters, jumpers, and throwers will receive a full scholarship. Less than 1 percent of girls playing high school basketball earn any athletic scholarship money to attend college, and the other sports are all within a percentage point of this number. For example, of female high school athletes, 0.7 percent of softball players, 1.2 percent of swimmers and 1.6 percent of golfers will receive athletic scholarship money. But don’t be discouraged!
The MONEY is there, and besides partial athletic scholarships there are academic or merit-based scholarships and financial aid. Walking onto a team is another option that may get the dedicated female athlete a scholarship in later years. Be aware that Division III (3) schools and the Ivy League schools don’t even offer athletic scholarships, but they provide valuable athletic and academic opportunities for committed athletes who are not at the elite Division 1 level. These schools have enhanced the financial aid for admitted students, making it much easier to recruit talented athletes.
The benefits of playing a sport are enormous, and there is evidence to support female participation. One survey of high school and college female athletes analyzed body weight and activity levels over a 25-year period. Results showed that the women who had participated in sports in high school or college had lower rates of obesity and body mass index. Physical activity rates were higher as well. Equally impressive, NCAA statistics show that 71 percent of female athletes who entered NCAA Division 1 programs on athletic scholarships in 1998 graduated within six years, compared to 63 percent of females overall.
Female athletes who play sports are more likely to volunteer, be registered to vote, and feel comfortable speaking in public than those who don’t. Various studies have shown girls who play sports have better self-esteem, are less likely to use drugs or smoke, and are less than half as likely to get pregnant during their teens compared to nonathletes. Playing sports also teaches them how to work hard, take criticism, and achieve goals. Team players learn how to rely on each other and give and take constructive criticism. Kids learn goal setting, determination, and discipline that is carried over into real life post college.
Practical Steps to Earning Scholarships
If you’re a young female athlete (or the parent or coach of a female athlete), here are some tips you can use for financing part or all of your tuition through sports participation.
1. Play the sport you love. You have to really love your sport to make it worth your time, commitment, and sacrifices it takes to excel in college athletics. Study hard and you’ll create opportunities for yourself.
2. Start strength training and conditioning early. Work with a coach or fitness professional (RHS athletic or P.E. coaches are all coaching certified and some have master’s degrees in their field. Also Ramona Fitness offers some great trainers and programs for the young athlete.) to get stronger, quicker, faster, and more mobile. If you have strength training experience, you’ll stand out to college coaches, and they will be attracted by that commitment and drive and will want you on their team.
3. Get appropriate mobility in your hips and ankles and be able to perform good technique in the squat. Again, you can do this by training in one of the weight training classes that RHS offers in the Physical Education Department or by working out at Ramona Fitness with a trainer or on your own. You will be a more attractive prospect if you can move well on the court or field, and mobility is a critical component of athleticism.
4. Contact coaches of schools you are interested in as early as your sophomore year. Contact the coach with an introductory email, send them a video of your skills, fill them in on your academics, and let them know when you’ll be playing at camps or tournaments and games. Also register with the NCAA Clearinghouse and start taking the SAT or ACT as soon as you can. You must post a score by your Junior year. Recruit them. BE PERSISTENT!
5. Put yourself on YouTube. To attract the attention of coaches, put together a video of eight minutes of your skills and put it on YouTube. Send this to coaches in an introductory email instead of a CD or DVD because these can easily get lost or set aside on a busy coach’s desk.
- ‘Dawg Pound’ Important Dates & Notes
- Scholarships are out there, but you may have to look
- From the Dawg Pound: Athletics, fine arts can be hurt by educational reforms
- Reflections of 34 years as a Bulldog coach
- Ramona grads have till June 19 to apply for $2,000 scholarships
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