Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pace Yourself

We had a discussion the other day with a parent of a high school senior who had just received an e-mail from his future college coach about what classes to schedule in his first semester in college in the Fall of 2009. The parents were a little upset at the less than academic classes that the coach suggested his future player should take in his first semester. There were classes like art appreciation, intro to television, dance, intro to sports nutrition, and others that were not real life career builders.

But, the coach wasn't making a mockery of the student athletes brain capacity. Most coaches know from experience that it is very hard for first semester freshman student athletes to adapt to the rigorous schedules and sudden freedom and temptations of college life. Taking a light load is a smart and good transition for most athletes, because they will be overwhelmed and most certainly will be tempted time and time again by the evil college party dudes. And, it's been that way for generations.

We have stated this many times, but college is hard for students athletes. The schedule starting in the first week of school and lasting for 45 straight NCAA sanctioned fall practices...(more if not run by coaches) is as follows.

6:30-7:30 Strength and Conditioning
7:30-8:00 Breakfast
8:00- 12:00 Classes
12:00-12:30 Lunch
1:00-5:30 Baseball Practice
5:30-6:30 Dinner
7:00-10:00 Study Hall
10:00-? crash

So, you can imagine how this type of schedule with no parental supervision could be tough on a kid his first four months away from home.

Anyway, we told our friends that they should be happy that there is a coach that actually keeps tabs of his players and is involved in their studies enough to know what works and what doesn't. One of the biggest fears that college coaches have is of a freshman blue chip player not making grades...and it happens more than you think.

As I think back at the orientation sessions I attended in my sons freshman year, many of the instructors said that the average student will have a grade point decrease of at least 1 point from his high school average his freshman year...and they were referring to non-athletes. When we attended the athletic directors seminar, he said that a light load is the best way to transition from high school to college that first semester...but after that first semester, the coaches expect those same freshman to get a bit more serious in the next several semesters.

So, have your sons talk to their future coaches about what classes to take. Ask them to talk to other freshman about their workload and work from there. Have your son talk to counselors, tutors and others when he goes through orientation this summer. But most of all, your son needs to pace himself. College electives are mandatory anyway, but can also be fun and are a great way to get acclimated to the stress that student athletes experience that first year.

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