Go Ask Mom

Will spending thousands on youth sports equate to athletic scholarships?

For many parents and children, the dream of playing sports at the college level and even the pros starts early. But is going into debt for your child's club sport mean your child will get a college scholarship?

Posted Updated

Monica Laliberte
, WRAL executive producer/5 On Your Side reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — For many parents and children, the dream of playing sports at the college level and even the pros starts early.

High School junior Blayne Talley has played softball for 10 years. Nines year for high school sophomore Aubrey Fulcher. Eight years for freshman Nahla Bigham.

The three are part of a competitive travel softball league, which is separate from school sports. It's one of many club sports that help players hone their skills, but it can be expensive.

Mom Kim Warren went through the list of expenses with 5 On Your Side’s Monica Laliberte. Warren mentioned travel, including air fare, lodging and tournament fees. Warren estimates they have spent around $10,000 or more on the sport.

Mom Heather Coleman said that thousands of dollars have been spent by her family throughout the years. "Your club fees, your private lessons...gear. They break a couple bats, so we're constantly rolling those over," she said.

Given what some spend, it is maybe no surprise that 79% of parents surveyed by Lending Tree, say they have gone into debt to pay for their child's expenses.

The more eye-opening number, perhaps, is that 87% of parents who say they believe it's an investment that could eventually pay off with income for their child, say in the form of a scholarship.

"I do hope I get a scholarship," sophomore Morgan Warren said. "I think I have pretty good chances."

"I think a lot of people just have the misconception that every kid is on a full ride that's a college athlete – and they're not," said Renee Lopez, a veteran college coach and the author of the book "Looking for a Full Ride?"

Lopez's goal is to educate families that "more scholarship money is gonna come from academic scholarships in most situations."

The NCAA says only about 2% of high school athletes are awarded athletic scholarships to compete in college, and it's often a partial scholarship.

"In women's soccer, 14 full scholarships are available at the division one level that would be split across the entire team," said Lopez.

She wants parents to know that skill is important, but so is school.

"If all things are the same, your talent level is the same, I have a 3.5 (GPA) kid, or I have a 2.3 (GPA) kid, which kid am I going after? It's the 3.5 (GPA) kid, because that does translate to a lot of other areas of their life," said Lopez.

Monica asked parent Heather Coleman if she's thought about what she'll have spent on softball when it's all said and done.

"I probably already paid for college," said Coleman, adding that she thinks it's worth it because her child has gotten a lot of things out of it like sportsmanship and drive.

"It makes you want to work harder when you know that there's only a small percent chance that you'll get in," said sophomore Morgan Warren.

Student athletes also develop confidence.

When Monica asked junior Blayne Calley about her skill level, Calley said "I don't like to toot my own horn, but stats don't lie!"


Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.