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Student athletes must work on, off the field to get noticed by college coaches

5 On Your Side found it takes a lot of work to improve the chances of getting on a coach's radar.

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Monica Laliberte
, WRAL executive producer/5 On Your Side reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — A lot of time, effort and money goes into kids' competitive sports leagues. Despite many parents' expectations, only a small percent of students actually get athletic scholarships.

5 On Your Side found it takes a lot of work to improve the chances of getting on a coach's radar.

"I think I have pretty good chances," tenth-grade softball player Morgan Warren said. "I think I have really good spin on the ball when I'm pitching. I think I have really good strengths at the plate when I'm hitting."

Turning that talent, drive and dedication into a scholarship to play on a college team is hardly guaranteed.

"If you want to play in college, you need to go after the process, not just sit back and think colleges are going to come knocking on your door," says Renee Lopez, a veteran college coach and author of "Looking for a Full Ride?"

Her message: student athletes need to market themselves.

"Sending emails, highlight film, player resume, their transcripts, or test scores," said Lopez. "Sending that information and reaching out to those coaches via email."

You read right: Create player resumes and highlight films, shot and edited on a phone.

Lopez says students, not their coaches or parents, are the ones who need to reach out to leaders of the programs where they want to play.

"We interviewed 65 college coaches and athletic directors and it was this common theme of them just saying, 'We want to hear from the kids. We want to know of their interest in the program,'" said Lopez. "A parent reaching out to a college coach can actually hurt the process."

High school players 5 On Your Side talked with at a travel softball tournament in Apex, are already on it.

"We use Twitter," said ninth-grader Nahla Bigham. "The coaches will usually send us like our stats for the weekend and we post them," tagging schools and coaches they're interested in..

"If you're not doing the marketing to the college coaches and telling them your interest, we just think you're any other kid that's out at this event, who's not interested in our college," said Lopez.

She says also says make sure the college is a good "broken leg" fit. Meaning, if your sports career is cut short, will you still stay there?

And most important thing Lopez said to focus on is academics. Most athletic scholarships are partial, often coupled with one for academics.

Eleventh-grader Blayne Talley is aware of that. She's hoping for a scholarship but say academics "comes first, always."

Tenth-grader Tyah Charlton echoed that scholarship sentiment.

"I have, like, good grades, even if it's not athletic, I feel like I can still get one with my academics," said Charlton.

So pursuing a scholarship is very much a part-time job for students, but the multiple players WRAL spoke with seem ready for the work required.


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