DON’T DESPAIR, THERE IS STILL HOPE AHEAD
BY ERIN SILVER
It’s a difficult time for graduating high school students all ‘round. And for anyone aiming for a sports scholarship, Covid-19 has made it harder to secure one.
The virus has cancelled sporting events and opportunities to practise and visit with potential coaches at universities and colleges the world over.
“There’s a lack of sports opportunities; you can’t have students on campus, and some sports have been discontinued for the immediate future,” says Calvin Blankendal, executive director of the Bermuda Sports Management Group, which connects athletes with opportunities in sports. “If you have a good relationship with a local coach in Bermuda, they may be able to network on your behalf. Their personal relationship may convince a coach to accept you based on their recommendation. Due to a lack of matches being played, if you don’t have direct link, it will be more difficult.”
Hardest hit are students counting on a full athletic scholarship. “At the moment, it’s challenging for students to be seen by coaches, and colleges are being more frugal with scholarships than normal,” he says. “Getting a full scholarship is not as easy as it seems.”
It’s a trend that started even before the pandemic hit. Covid-19 has meant that there is even less money to go around, especially for sports that are not as popular as others. In the US, for example, colleges might get 80,000 fans out to watch teams play American football while a soccer match might only attract 1,500 people.
This means that scholarships for sports like soccer will be particularly limited. “In the pandemic, some colleges are not spending on the less popular sports and have decided not to play,” Mr Blankendal said.
For students whose talents lie in those areas, Mr Blankendal offers some advice:
START LOOKING AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE
The best thing to do if you’re a student athlete is not to wait until your final year to look for a school. At least two years before you graduate, start looking at potential colleges. Make contact with the coach, send an e-mail, go visit. This is the time to create some type of relationship with a coach because they get lots of applications. [Figure out] how you can get the coach to remember you so he’ll decide on you for a scholarship.
Network in Bermuda. Lots of Bermudians go to college on a scholarship. Can anyone you know put in a good word for you?
No matter how talented you are on the field, academics will always get you some kind of financing. Academics come before on-field talents. The most important thing you can do is focus on school and get good grades so you at least have a chance at an academic
DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED IF YOU DO NOT SUCCEED
If you don’t get a scholarship upon graduating, you can still apply next year. Just because you don’t graduate with a scholarship doesn’t mean you’re ineligible to try again.