College Football Players With Mask On Helmet Over Their Eyes Raising a Jock

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Raising a Jock

Remember the original ‘Friday Night Lights’? The days before high school football…those winter football games when we were in school? Popcorn, cheerleaders, shoulder pads, huge helmets, and the oldest kids with happy-muddy smiles. Win or lose, we always met up after the burger game and our carefree high school life continued. Granted, high school sports in the Midwest are slightly snowier here than in Florida, but still fundamentally the same.

Fast forward to 2009, high school football Florida style. Those carefree memories are a fun novelty for today’s high school jock. Playing football today is a very serious and often expensive business for thousands of young players.

According to online publication ESPN Rise: “Many people clearly believe that Florida is the best high school football state.” Keith Rivers, an All-American linebacker from Lake Mary, Florida grad, USC and first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, is a perfect example of the ‘local-kid-makes-good-on-his-dream’ story.

But athletic success doesn’t come easy or cheap for most youth in high school sports in Florida today. Doug Peters, Lake Mary High School’s athletic director, tells me that his school alone averages 800 student athletes annually, and only 15 of those students go to college on athletic scholarships each year after graduation.

Although his parents don’t know it yet, these young football players already know that they need real marketing for this tune: professionally produced highlight videos, personal trainers and even a “scout” who contacts several schools on the player’s behalf. to play college football. The commitment required of today’s high school athletes is very different because it involves a greater emotional, personal and financial investment on the part of the entire family.

Take 16-year-old Trevor Alfredson (full disclosure: my own teenage jock son) who has been playing football and loved it since he was six. “I’ve wanted to play Division 1 football for as long as I can remember,” says Trevor. And as a sophomore varsity player, Trev’s season included hiring a firm to make a highlight video, talking to two different recruiting service firms, training with former NFL player Dana Sanders, and attending something called “combines.”

For the uninitiated in today’s “jock” lingo: High school football officially tests athletes on a number of physical skills, such as speed, agility and strength, while various college coaches watch. The pressure to be noticed for these kids at age 14 is incredibly heavy! A sophomore year of football alone can cost upwards of $5500 with an eye toward playing “Division 1 football”.

The pressures and problems of “making it” are also not unique to football. Lee Morgan of Lake Mary is a junior who plays two types of soccer (club soccer and school soccer) and football so he will have the best shot at playing college sports at a good school. A super-talented and first-string football kicker, Lee has already emailed several college coaches (part of his personal marketing plan) and heard from some Florida college coaches. For a fee Lee is invited to summer soccer camps so he can get up close and personal with the coaches.

As fiercely competitive as college sports have become for young players today, Lee tells us that “I’ve been playing soccer since I was 7 years old and now I want to keep all my options open.” His teacher father Walt says that “part of today’s increased pressure is because the cost of college has also increased, which can put more pressure on athletic scholarships.”

Chip from Florida works for Humble CSA Prep Stars and he scouts players for several schools. Chip says most parents need help understanding how recruitment really works. And with the exception of the very rare “blue chip players” like Keith Rivers, “too many good athletes are overlooked and invisible because they haven’t been marketed properly”.

Experts say that the main reason many children don’t enlist is because no one knows about them. Chip reminds parents of his athletic roster: “Just because your kid was good in Little League or good at her own school doesn’t mean they’re a ‘blue chip’ All-American athlete as far as college coaches are concerned.”

Presently raising the jock is a personal profile with a website; Following coaches on Twitter, verified game and aggregate stats, and pro-quality highlight video watched by hundreds of college coaches. Dreams don’t come cheap these days, even in high school!

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