Coaches Play Important Roles In Awards and Scholarships
Local coaching staffs balance time spent submitting information for numerous award opportunities with longer-term potential for college scholarships.
Over the past several years, one of the tasks on my plate has been to work as one of
the judges for a major national high school awards program. It's no ordinary award,
as in that it takes into account much more than the numbers put up by athletes
across the nation.
This award also takes into account grades, peer comments, leadership qualities,
community service, character, and other things like that. There are countless kids
across the nation that averaged 300 yards and five touchdowns a night, or somehow
had triple-doubles every time their team hit the hardwood. Kids everywhere are
hitting .550 with two home runs a game and striking out 15 each time they take the
Locally, these are magnificent accomplishments. And while there is no taking away
from these big statistics and achievements, the point is that for every one athlete at
one school doing amazing things, there is another great athlete doing great things in
hundreds of other schools nationwide.
While the numbers put up by this elite group are almost always staggering, when
every school in the country is asked to nominate the best of the best, that pile of
paper can get very, very tall. Each of them is unique and amazing, yet all of them
now sit together in a giant, cattle-call-like stack of nominations.
So what is it, then, that helps to set one application apart from the next? Simple–
This particular awards program relies on coaches to fill out the statistics, the
leadership qualities, peer evaluations, outstanding performances and any other
information they might consider relevant to the nomination. Some coaches do an
outstanding job, while others sent in the forms essentially blank. A huge percentage
of them come in somewhere in between.
Don't get me wrong, I know that a coach has a never-ending pile of things to go
through in addition to just trying to coach these athletes. And as it is, most of them
do go out of their way to do all they can to help their players.
"I believe that our kids work very hard to be successful," Lindbergh High School
head football coach Tom Beauchamp said. "So it is imperative that I try to put them
up for awards that they qualify to receive."
At the end of the day, taking the time to do so is part of the job. That includes
helping the players find scholarship opportunities.
"One of the most important things we can do as a coach is help a player continue
to chase his dreams," added Beauchamp. "Sometimes the players don't receive the
offers we think they deserve, but out maximum effort needs to be made."
Zumwalt West head football coach Paul Day doesn't put as much weight into the
"I think it is very important to nominate and 'go to bat' for your kids in all
conference, all state, etc.," Day said. "However, I am not a big believer in the other
awards solely because it is next to impossible to compare kids from two different
states or regions."
While Day offers a valid point, there are certain awards that attempt to do just that,
and they do rely solely on the coaches of these players for information. So by taking
a flyer on such programs, the kids are essentially not even in the running. That's not
ideal, but again – coaches do have plenty to do. It's just a matter of prioritizing, and
sometimes the awards take a back seat for any number of reasons.
Day does, however, place great importance on the scholarship side of things.
"In my opinion we play a vital role in helping our kids earn scholarships by keeping
them on track academically, providing film and information to colleges of all sizes
and mentoring our players through the process," he said. "It is our job to do the
best we can to provide as many options for our athletes as possible, but ultimately
the film (on athletes) is what earns them the scholarship. On our staff we have
coaches in charge of academics (tracking and mentoring), film (cut ups, game film
and distribution) and recruit sheets (compiling of all academic, athletic and personal
information to be sent to colleges). All of my varsity assistants also attend recruit
nights to talk to as many colleges as possible."
Beauchamp echoed the importance of working hard on getting players scholarship
opportunities. For every star recruit like Chaminade's Bradley Beal or Christian Suntrup, there are countless other athletes deserving of a chance to play their sport at the next level.
"Many players deserve awards and scholarships and they don't always receive
them," he said. "But the effort to nominate them and pursue scholarships for them is
a critical part of a high school coaches job."
And the way the system works, be it efforts to win awards or help kids earn
scholarships, judges and coaches often have no choice but to rely on the efforts of
So fear not, parents. It's not as though we don't know how amazing and outstanding
these student athletes are. We just need it all on paper. Unfortunately, there's no
other way to do it.