By Karla Comayagua and Lizbeth Trujillo
Some high school athletes who have a great deal of talent and potential are offered a full or partial sports scholarship.
Scholarships granted to students with athletic excellence often originate from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
However other programs such as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) also provide scholarships for students with a lower athletic profile.
These organizations take account of a student’s athletic abilities and academic performance amongst other aspects such as work ethic, determination, and dedication. However these college representatives are also looking for a student who is well rounded in areas besides their athletic capability.
Specifically sports such as football, soccer, cross country, and swim offer athletes many scholarship opportunities. Thousands of athletes in each sport across the United States strive to receive money for college, therefore creating a high standard for the qualifications to obtain a scholarship.
NCAA Division I schools are typically large universities that attract the greatest media attention because of their top players. On the other hand, NCAA DII schools are smaller and players usually have scholarships based on athleticism and education.
Players with the highest potential and athletic achievement receive a full ride scholarship in the NCAA DI Football Bowl Series level.
For players who are seeking a balance between school and sports in college, the NCAA DII can be a favorable choice. This division level not only offers athletic scholarships, but also provides other forms of financial aid.
Although the NCAA DII scholarship is applicable for football players, the NCAA DI and NAIA also provide scholarships for other sports such as soccer. In order to qualify for a scholarship, soccer players work hard and let coaches know they are the right one to play for their college.
People who want to play in NCAA DI or NAIA division, need a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 and complete core courses in high school. Even then, being considered for a soccer scholarship is extremely competitive and requires many of the athletes to have extensive experience in the sport.
Similarly, cross country runners must improve their 5K running time to be considered for the scholarship. In this particular sport, it is difficult to stand out because of there being thousands of other athletes with similar running times.
For students who want to receive a scholarship in the NCAA DI division, male runners are required to run under 16 minutes and 10 seconds and female runners are required to run under 20 minutes and 15 seconds. The NCAA DII division requires male runners to run under 19 minutes and women runners to run under 23 minutes and 75 seconds.
These scholarships also provide opportunities for athletes that participate in a swim team. With over 460 men’s college swim programs and 580 women’s college swim programs, scholarships go to swimmers who score the most points for the school’s program at the conference and national level.
Generally, being a dominant freestyler gives swimmers a good chance to receive a scholarship, while specializing in backstroke, breaststroke, or butterfly can be more limiting in terms of opportunities.
Senior Rachel Mumma has demonstrated dedication and determination while being on the Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) swim team. She recently received a swim scholarship from Salem International University.
“I spent the last 6 months reaching out to coaches about being able to swim for their team this coming fall. I also have been swimming for over 15 years so everyday putting the work in to hopefully have coaches offer me money to swim for them,” Mumma said.
Although Mumma has sacrificed extensive amounts of time in her school and social life, she does not regret the effort she has put into her swimming career.
Mumma plans to continue swimming in college and plans to eventually accomplish bigger dreams.
“I would love to be a part of the USA national team for swimming, and I would love to make the Olympic team,” Mumma said.
Sports scholarships allow students to focus on their passion and realize that grades are not the only aspect that colleges and scholarship programs focus on when determining acceptances. Therefore it is important for students to have skills that they can excel at which would also allow them to set themselves apart from other students.