Sitting though hundreds of college football games in my lifetime, I have learned a lot about football and I have learned a lot about college football players. Along with my husband, we raised two Division 1 student-athletes who played college football. As much fun as the games are, especially when our team wins, I am far more intrigued with the young men who play the game and the coaches who coach them. After all, I am in the people business.
Student-athletes have very challenging schedules that often include early morning weight lifting, daily practice and meetings, attending classes, study hall, ensuring proper nutrition and other student responsibilities. Often times, they spend summer breaks going to classes, lifting weights and preparing for the next season. Depending on the sport, other holidays are missed with family, too, due to competition schedules.
If it is that hard, then why do student-athletes put themselves through so much during some of the most exciting years of their lives? Many of them do it because, otherwise, they would not have the opportunity to receive a college education. However, many of those students are not on full scholarship and some of them have no scholarship at all. Some of them do it because it is their path to go pro in their chosen sport, although few will actually have the opportunity. Some of them do it for the love of the game and some do it because of who they become in the process. Whatever their rationale, being part of a Division 1 (and sometimes DII and DIII, too) requires tremendous commitment of the student. This is why when I am selecting talent, I like to select former college student-athletes and they are some of the best selections I ever made.
Why should you choose college athletes when you select talent for your organization?
1.They are disciplined. It is impossible to accomplish all of the tasks a college athlete needs to do each day without being disciplined. Usually, they are up very early for before-class workouts and practice. After putting in hours in the classroom, the remainder of their day includes team meetings, practice if they did not have it earlier in the day, study time and proper nutrition. Bedtime comes early, because the next day is more of the same.
2. They are committed. To be a college student-athlete usually means saying no to fraternities and sororities, weekend trips home or with friends, study abroad opportunities, part-time jobs, summer internships and other campus involvements. It means saying yes to a team above all else.
3. They are coachable. Student-athletes are constantly under the authority of and accountability to a coach. They are accustomed to receiving both positive and negative feedback and have learned how to apply both to improve performance. They learned early to listen and follow direction or be cut from the team.
4. They are leaders. Most coaches require their athletes to develop leadership skills. Some of them will lead the team as captains and other roles, but all of them are expected to represent the program and their university well. Without some ability to influence others, they would not have been selected as members of the team. Some progress in these skills more than others.
5. They are resilient. Student athletes learn to deal with defeat and rejection. Only a handful will avoid the reality of at some point sitting on the bench or losing an important match. Resiliency is a critical skill in the midst of the competition. If an athlete makes a mistake mid-game or mid-match, overcoming the mistake and moving forward is key to winning.
There is no guarantee that every athlete will possess these qualities, but I have found this to be the case more often than not. If you are looking for talent, consider selecting student-athletes whose experience has prepared them well for the demands of the marketplace.