Being a college student-athlete is very demanding. With more competitive schedules than ever and university official wanting coaches to produce wins and championships, it can almost make being a college student-athlete on scholarship feel like they have two or three full time jobs. But what about all those players who are walk-ons for a team. They aren't even receiving a scholarship or any money to pay for their education and college expenses. Thats like working at a job for free. There are many ups and downs to being a walk-on on a college sports team. This article will guide you through the realities of life as a walk-on and give any person out there who is a walk-on for a sports team advice and hope. Read on to learn how to survive as a walk-on for a college sports team.
First and foremost, you have to understand that the coaches have their scholarship athletes in their best interests. Thats just the way it is. These players are going to get the best equpment and play the most because they were actually recruited and given money to come to that college. What would a coach look like putting a player who is a walk-on into the starting lineup over a player who is on an athletic scholarship? Unless you are a athletically gifted player who was for one reason or another looked over, then you will have to work that much harder just to even get a shot at seeing the playing field and you when you do get a shot at playing you are going to have to make plays and help your coaches win if you plan on earning a scholarship.
You have to work hard even if you are only on the practice squad and may not have a shot at playing. You never know when your oppurtunity may come to enter into the starting lineup. There have been many instances in college athletics when a coaches first two or three players at a position have been hurt, or academically ineligible and the coach has had to play true freshman or even walk-ons at those positions. The moral of the story is, you never when your number may be called. Therefore, practice as if you are a first team starter and receiving an athletic scholarship. If you didn't have any intentions of playing and possibly earning a scholarship, then what else are you out there for?
You have to also be honest with yourself. Do you have the skills and ability to play as a walk on for the team you are on? You may have been a good player in high school but the reality is once you get to the college level, every player that is on the team was a great player for their state and was a all-state or all-area honoree. If you did not earn a athletic scholarship to play and have to walk on at a college, then don't think the coaches don't like you as a person or that they had something against you. Its a college coach's job to recruit the best athletes that are going to help their program win games and championships. Maybe they didn't feel you had what they were looking for. Or maybe they just didn't get to properly evaluate your talents as a high school athlete. Whatever the case may be, they aren't just going to up and offer you a scholarship. You have to prove to them that you are talented enough and deserving of that scholarship. If you can't cut it playing at that level of competition, then you may want to consider going to a smaller Division two or Division three college where you can probably play at and possibly earn a scholarship or some type of financial aid to play. Every athlete no matter how talented he or she may be can't play for the powerhouse colleges like USC, Ohio State, Florida, or Alabama. Many athletes who get overlooked by big schools like these are often given scholarships to play for smaller division one, two, and three colleges and most of those athletes accept that they weren't talented enough to go to a powerhouse school and head to where they were offered a scholarship to play at.
Lastly, never give up on your dreams. There have been players who have been walk-ons, only to earn a scholarship and dominate at their colleges and even go on to play in the pros. Jim Leonhard of the New York Jets comes to mind. He wasn't even a scholarship player at Wisconsin until his senior year. However, he was a starter in a lot of games before his senior season and had broke numerous records in football at the University of Wisconsin. Now he is a starting safety for the New York Jets in the NFL. That should be enough to motivate you to make it as a walk-on for a team.
At the end of the day, it may be in your best interests to go to a school where a college coach is offering you an athletic scholarship if you are fortunate to earn a scholarship. Even if the school isn't a big name like the schools you see on national TV, it still shows you that a college coach cares about you and thinks you are a good enough player for them to offer you money to further your education and playing career. If you don't want to accept that scholarship offer, then there are many other players who don't have any scholarship offers that will just as gladly take the scholarship offer. If this is not you, then you will have to take your chances at just trying out for a team as a walk-on. Who knows? If you work hard enough, make plays when given the opportunity, and if you actually talented enough to play at the college you are at, then you may earn a athletic scholarship in the near future. I hope these tips will help any athlete out there in the paticular situation survive as a college walk on for a college sports team. Good Luck!