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Athletic scholarships don’t come easily


Casa Grande High School graduate Shannon Gallup will start Boston University next fall with her college education practically paid for. She will receive almost a full athletic scholarship for four years to row for the Terriers.

“Title IX has been good to me,” she said.

Title IX is the federal law that, among other things, requires that colleges provide equal sports opportunities for both male and female athletes. Taken down to the Petaluma level, what it means is that there are more sports scholarship opportunities for girl local high school graduates than ever.

It seems like more and more dads begin grooming their sons to be college football, basketball or baseball players from the time they are old enough to crawl.

As they grow older, fathers choose schools, coaches, teams and clinics for their sons based on which will provide the best path to a scholarship.

Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t.

The truth is that there just aren’t that many basketball, football or baseball players who receive a coveted D1 scholarship. Four members of last spring’s Casa Grande baseball team received scholarships to D1 schools, but that is an anomaly.

Even when athletic scholarships are received, that does not guarantee an education. Few are full “rides” and only a very few are for all four years. Most are conditional on an athletes making and staying on a team.

Scholarships aren’t exactly plentiful for girls. They still have to be an elite athlete in their chosen sport, but scholarships are more readily available for girls than for boys. Even for girls, in some sports like softball, volleyball and swimming the competition for scholarships can be extremely intense.

But, with Title IX, there are more girls sports than ever and schools are actively recruiting good girl athletes for everything from lacrosse to golf, and, yes, even rowing. Colleges are willing to go a long way toward financing the ever-escalating cost of a college education,

Every parent wants the best education and the best sport opportunities for their child, whether it be a male or female, but the cost of chasing a college scholarship can be mind boggling when youngsters start going to tournaments, showcase events, camps and lessons. The reward is there for some, and we celebrate the success of those who attain scholarships.

Unfortunately, for many young athletes, they are chasing a dream that does not always end happily.

Three suggestions I always have based on observations of what I’ve seen over the past half century.

1. Keep the grades up. They do count, sometimes a lot. Often, colleges cannot or do not give athletic scholarships, but do provide academic scholarships for students who just happen to be outstanding athletes.

2. Go somewhere you can play. It might be fun to be on a D1 team that is bowl bound or headed to playoffs, but what is the point if you are an interested spectator?

3. Don’t sell junior colleges short. Many Bay Area JCs have superb athletic programs and, most importantly, excellent education programs. Junior college sports and classes are not only affordable, they offer a solid education. Any one who thinks they have to “settle” for junior college is mistaken. You have to be talented and willing to work to make a team at an institution like Santa Rosa Junior College.

College scholarship help is available for athletes, both male and female, is all sports, but they aren’t given — they have to be earned, and you have to mix that work with as dash of luck.

(Contact John Jackson at johnie.jackson@arguscourier.com)