The Year of Walk-On’s Amazing Performances
Some student-athletes choose to play NCAA Division III (no athletic scholarships allowed), be a DI, DII, or NAIA Walk-On, and teens look for different athletic options that offer athletic aid for college. I have been a college coach for 14 years across all divisions and have seen many student-athletes come into programs as a “Walk-On”. At the beginning of the year, I offered up 7 Areas to Consider Before Choosing to Be a Walk-On. Those who choose to be Walk-Ons are often very excited early on in “having an opportunity to be a part of the program,” and “are willing to accept their role”. Unfortunately, oftentimes this excitement wanes over the season as they become frustrated with their lack of athletic scholarship and playing time as they do the same training as their teammates receiving athletic aid.
As a college coach, having Walk-Ons who are kids with great character, work ethic, and academics is one of those challenging parts of coaching college teams with large rosters like I did. Simply put, there is just never enough scholarship money to go around for all of those student-athletes you want to have athletic aid, especially in equivalency sports with large rosters such as soccer, softball, and lacrosse.
Recently I was speaking with a long-time coaching friend, who is a Mental Game Coach, Tami Matheny. You may remember her from doing a guest blog for us a few months ago, “College Coaches Are HERE to Watch Me Play and I Am Sooooo Nervous!: 3 Steps To Playing Confident When a Recruiter Is Watching!” She has worked with my college teams for many years, and continues to work with college and high school student-athletes all across the country. (See her full bio below) As the Owner of Refuse2LoseCoaching, LLC, she works with coaches, student-athletes, and teams to improve areas such as confidence, focus, motivation, mental toughness, leadership, teamwork, etc (the list could go on and on!).
She brought up that we often do not celebrate enough of the success stories of those who choose to be a Walk-On student-athlete. Now if you are ever around Tami and I for any amount of time, you will quickly figure how she is one of the rare people who can make me stop in my tracks and completely rethink my entire perspective (don’t let her know I told you this!). And this situation of course was no different. She is the real deal in helping with mental training skills! (Lucky for all of you, she has now compiled her many years’ worth of training into a book titled The Confident Athlete: 4 Easy Steps to Build & Maintain Confidence)
Here’s Tami’s discussion on Walk-On Success Stories!
What does Augusta State golfer, Broc Everett have in common with UNC basketball player Luke Maye, and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield?
If you don’t know about Everett, you need to, as he has a great underdog story. A few weeks ago, he made history by winning the NCAA individual golf championship as one of only two golfers to make the NCAA title his only college victory! It is his ONLY title and its for the NCAA championship!
Back to Maye and Mansfield though. Maye was 3rd team All-American and named ACC Most Improved Player. Mansfield not only won the Heisman Trophy, but was the first player taken in the NFL draft. So where does Everett fit in with these 2 collegiate stars? All three were Walk-Ons!
In this world of recruiting rankings and stats measuring, these guys started off their careers as walk-ons! Mayfield started his career by walking on at Texas Tech and became the first walk-on true freshman quarterback to start a season opener. Maye committed to UNC as a walk on and as a freshman hit one of the top 3 game winning shots in the history of UNC basketball to send them to the Final Four and ultimately an NCAA title. Everett only had 2 schools interested in him in high school and decided to walk on at Augusta State and now is National Champ at the end of his career!
I personally love these Cinderella stories. But beyond the story is the message. Too many athletes judge their abilities by the offers they receive. Too many allow other’s perceptions to limit their potential. Here are just a few lessons high schoolers could learn from these 3 walk-ons:
1) You should not allow anyone else’s perception to hurt your confidence. If anything, these 3 used the lack of big offers to fuel themselves.
2) They stayed focus on small daily improvements. Their focus was on what they needed to do- extra work, eliminating things in their life that hurt them in their sport, staying true to themselves, etc.
3) They put in the work mentally and physically. And, they believed in themselves even when others didn’t.
If you aren’t the most highly recruited athlete, don’t let that hinder what you can do. Find a school that will help you become the best you can be. Then put in the work and don’t stop believing!
Over the past 2.5 years, I have interviewed 65 college coaches and athletic directors across all levels and all sports. We have spoken to coaches and athletic directors from the ACC, SEC, PAC-12, Big 10, Conference Carolinas, Big South, Atlantic Sun, RMAC, Sunshine State Conference, and so many more. We have asked them, “What do you want families to know about the college recruiting process? What perspective can you give them?” We are very excited about our book, Looking For A FULL RIDE?: An Insider’s Recruiting Guide. It has been a lot of work to secure these interviews to offer a true insider’s recruiting perspective. Want to be on the list to be notified when it comes out? Go to www.lookingforafullride.com to get a FREE Special Report: Strategies to Emailing A College Coach.
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- Club/HS Coaches Learning College Recruiting Process (All Sports)
- Play College Soccer (Soccer Specifically)
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Would you like her to do individual consulting with your family to get an insider’s perspective?
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Coach Renee Lopez
As a 17 year coaching veteran, Coach Renee Lopez is a recruiting expert for high school student-athletes. She uses her NCAA Division I, II, and NAIA Head Coaching experience to help families navigate the recruiting process to be identified by college coaches and help them find the right “fit” for playing at the next level. She has produced 3 All-Americans, over 30 All-Conference athletes and Her teams have been honored with awards for team academic accomplishments, sportsmanship, and sports ministry. In addition, Coach Renee Lopez has been named Coach of the Year by her peers.
She presents recruiting seminars across the country, has recently been featured in USA Weekly, with the National Alliance for Youth Sports, on SiriusXM Radio and ESPN Radio. She is the author of the book, Looking For A FULL RIDE?: An Insider’s Recruiting Guide where she has interviewed over 65 college recruiters across all sports and college levels. In addition, she runs 9 Facebook groups to help facilitate conversations on college recruiting education, coaching education, leadership development, and sports ministry. She is also a certified speaker, trainer and coach for the John Maxwell Team, Jon Gordon Company, 3Dimensional Coaching, and the Positive Coaching Alliance.
She also does private consulting for student-athletes and their families to help in understanding the often daunting process of recruiting. (See one family’s testimonial.) If you are looking for help in the college recruiting process, please email Coach Renee Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Tami Matheny
Tami Matheny is Owner and Director of Refuse2LoseCoaching, LLC and Co-Owner of Success for Teams, LLC. As a Mental Game Coach, she works with coaches, athletes and teams to improve areas such as confidence, focus, motivation, mental toughness, leadership, teamwork, etc. Her book, The Confident Athlete: 4 Easy Steps to Build and Maintain Confidence was released this past week!
Matheny has a passion for sports and how the mental game affects performance. As an athlete, coach, administrator and now Mental Game Coach, she has seen first-hand the difference mental toughness coupled with physical training translates into individual and/or team success.
When not training others, Tami remains physically active. She has completed a handful of marathons, including the Boston Marathon and ultramarathons. Her longest race to date is a 40 miler. She is an avid cyclist, completing rides over 70 miles. Matheny continues to seek new mental and physical challenges. For more confidence tips and information on The Confident Athlete follow Tami on Twitter (@tamimatheny, @R2LCoaching, @tamimatheny, @successforteams), Instagram (@refuse2losecoaching), www.r2lc.com and www.successforteams.com.