Today’s post is in answer to a question from a parent. I knew instantly it impacted a lot of families. These families participate in every sport, yet are often out of public view. Twenty years ago few people knew home schooling was an option. Today, most people have heard about homeschooling, know a homeschooling family, or are considering homeschooling themselves. 3.4% of all children in the U.S.A. are home schooled. At the end of the article I provide a snapshot into just how big home schooling is and why people choose to home school.
If you know a home schooled athlete, please pass this along to them.
“Are there any differences in the way a homeschooled athlete needs to approach the recruiting process?”
The simple answer: the recruiting process is the same for homeschooled athletes.
Let’s flesh it out, clearly there are some differences. For instance, you don’t have guidance counselors at the high school level ensuring the correct core courses are being taken. This is not a big deal. Parents of homeschooled students are used to taking care of these sorts of details.
It is my experience that some schools are not much help to their students either, so all parents (even of public school athletes) should be active and involved. If any athlete wants to compete at NCAA Division I, II or NAIA schools they must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center or NAIA Eligibility Center respectively.
The Eligibility Centers are prepared to work with homeschooled students, and have in place specific guidelines you must follow as the parent of a homeschooled student. My advice is to check it out early, make sure you meet the core requirements, and plan your student’s high school coursework carefully. Not every curriculum sold in homeschool catalogs meet the Eligibility Center’s guidelines for college preparatory courses. Check out their website for specifics, and plan wisely.
Do I Need to Play for the High School Team?
Most athletes are being watched at club events. Many college coaches won’t waste their time watching high school games, so don’t stress about that. A homeschooled student in a good club will be seen by plenty of coaches.
For every student athlete, the key is researching colleges and contacting coaches. It is not all about being the best talent. It is about getting your children to be proactive in promoting themselves and letting college coaches know they exist.
What Do I Do During the High School Season?
The challenge for homeschooled athletes is finding training opportunities during the high school season. Some states allow homeschool athletes to participate at the local high school. It usually comes with strings attached, such as requiring the athlete to take a certain number of classes at the high school. And at that point, are you really still homeschooled?
Be creative in your thinking. I cannot list every possibility, but here are some suggestions to get you thinking about how to get the necessary training during the high school season.
Cross state lines. If you are close to a border, the state next door may have a different high school season.
Play for an adult league. There are adult leagues in many sports. There are also groups of adults who play regular pick up games. If you are a male soccer player, go out and play pickup games with the local Hispanic men or college kids who are regulars on soccer fields. I did this for a while in my early twenties. I did not speak a word of Spanish, but the men were always gracious and let me join in.
Train with another team in your club. Train with a high level U14 team or with a U15-U18 team of the opposite gender. Many clubs and coaches would be willing to help you out.
Enter open events. If you participate in an individual sport such as track, cross country, tennis, or swimming, there are events going on year round that are open events.
Join a fitness center. Use the extra time you have in the afternoons to build your strength and fitness. A decade ago, I recruited a homeschooled athlete who was an incredible player. For her four years in high school she used the high school season as her time to spend in the gym working out. I did not get her. She went to another school and won multiple national championships.
If any of you have other suggestions, please leave a comment at the end of this post.
By the Numbers
There are 1.7 million homeschooled students in the U.S.A. and the number is growing every year. Homeschool students make up 3.4% of current students. The current number of homeschooled students has doubled since 1999. The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) maintains statistics regarding public, private, and homeschools and can be searched at http://nces.ed.gov.
Why 1.7 Million Children are Homeschooled
“When asked why they chose to homeschool, 91 percent of parents said it was because of a concern about the environment of other schools; 77 percent of parents said it was because of a desire to provide moral instruction; 74 percent of parents said they homeschool because of their dissatisfaction with academic instruction in other schools. When asked to select the single most important reason for homeschooling, 25 percent of parents said it was because of their concern about the environment of other schools.” I have cited HSLDA which was citing a lengthy study by the NCES.
Homeschooling is growing at a rapid pace, with no signs of slowing. As homeschooling grows the number of athletes pursuing college opportunities is growing as well. Fortunately for these athletes, high schools are not the only or even the primary route to finding a spot on a college roster.
The paths to a college roster are many and varied indeed!
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