Yes, I have in fact had several parents explain to me that the “investment” they made in club sports should have a pay out in receiving any athletic scholarship. I can address this issues from both the place of a parent and a college coach.
Parent me: I am lucky enough to see my children play a club soccer game once or twice a season (an unfortunate side effect of my role as a college coach). I do not waste my time while cheering them on, looking about for a college scout or worrying if one will show up. If my children become good enough and lucky enough to be scouted, I will be excited for that opportunity. However, my investment in their club activities was not made in this cause. Its pay off comes every time I get to spend time with them as they compete, smile, cry, and grow along the way.
Coach me: If you invested more money in your child’s athletics than you did in their academic tutoring and ACT/SAT prep, then you missed the bus on where most of the scholarship dollars are located. I will dive into how schools and programs award scholarships in a later post, however, to simplify it now, your child’s mind is their most important asset. Develop their mind and character, it will carry them farther than their ability to run, pass, and dribble ever will.
The club sports problem:
Do club sports offer young athletes a chance to improve their skills and grow in their sport at an increased pace...yes!
Do they provide advanced youth athletes a chance to compete against the best and provide possible exposure to college and professional opportunities...yes!
Do they guarantee, promise, or entitle your child to an athletic scholarship...NO!
To keep a very long rant short and pointed (and to not require you to read a novel of my opinions), club soccer is a service and it is solely based on perceived value. This perception is based on the worth college scouts, youth clubs, and families place on the value of the opportunity. Massive clubs and personal training facilities run their VERY profitable businesses on the concept that they provide the best route to the dream scholarship to Duke University (Insert other dream school here) or the guaranteed professional opportunity. "The only way to a Division I scholarship is if you play with our FILL IN THE BLANK TOP PROGRAM." Believing this messaging is what gets the vast majority of athletes and their families to go down the road of false promises. The top teams get the travel and league play that provides the opportunity for the coaches, directors, and top 15 to 20 athletes, in certain age groups, to be seen. All the while, hundreds or sometimes thousands of not "top" teams' families foot a heavy bill in team, club, and travel fees to keep the clubs cash machine rolling. Not to mention the expense required by the families traveling across the country chasing the promised scholarships. I have recruited extremely talented student-athletes from clubs and high schools of all sizes and reputations.
To summarize, because your daughter or son played on a massive or tiny club is not the thing that will get them the scholarship at the end of the rainbow. Did they get good coaching, good competition, and do they still love the grind of the game? I bet the chances are much higher, if the answers are yes to those questions regardless of what club or high school jersey they wore.
There are countless reasons from socio-economic to parent pride to prioritize athletics. The point here is pretty straight forward, your previous participation in any club or high school sport does not promise or guarantee athletic scholarships (partial or full). The only thing that can promise your child will end up on the higher end of scholarship offers is their combination of hard work, first, in the CLASSROOM, and then on the field.
P.S. There is always the risk of ineligibility to compete in NCAA or NAIA athletics as a result of poor academic performance…We’ll get to that later!