How You Can Help Your Athletic Homeschooler Play Collegiate Sports
by: Saleama A. Ruvalcaba
At one time I did not understand how sports could be used by God. However, nine years ago I was pregnant with our daughter, Sophia. On a Monday evening in January 2009, Sophia was due any day. The college National Championship Football game was on television. I had no idea, then, who was playing. But Omar, as you know, is a huge football fan, so the game was on. The National Championship game featured the Florida Gators and Oklahoma Sooners. Being nine-months pregnant I was half asleep not paying any attention to the game. I recall hearing the background noise. I eventually doze off, but I suddenly sat straight up when I heard these words coming from the television, “I just want to give all honor and glory to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!”
It was none other than Tim Tebow. I had not heard of him prior. His words grabbed my attention from my sleep. I knew I heard from someone living for the Lord and using a mighty stage, such as the National Championship Football game, to give God honor and glory.
I do not worship celebrities or sports figures at all. I very seldom know who anyone in the entertainment or sports world is. I’m not here to endorse Tim Tebow, but from the outside looking in, he appears to be living for the Lord. I know God gives everyone a gift to use for a greater platform – and I now realize sports can be one way we glorify God. I admire people who aren’t afraid to use their success to share Jesus Christ.
As you probably already know, Tim Tebow was homeschooled.
Do you have a homeschooler looking to play sports in college? Obviously, the first step is making sure your child is involved in some form of competitive sports either through the public school system or homeschool competitive sports programs. (Most public schools allow homeschoolers to participate in their sports programs – but contact them first to find out)
Then it’s time for the next steps…
Here are a few ways you can help your child:
According to an article by the HSLDA, the NCAA and NAIA recognizes the legitimacy of home school diplomas and transcripts making home school students eligible for athletic scholarships. The article goes on to say that it is very important to be on top academic eligibility, course standards, and core course requirements for the colleges you are applying for.
As with students who attend traditional schools, home school students must also follow basic eligibility requirements with the NCAA and NAIA. However, home school students must also:
The home school student athlete attending an NCAA Division I or Division II school must have the institution submit an initial eligibility waiver application to the NCAA national office. The waiver application must include the following:
- Home school transcript;
- ACT or SAT test scores;
- Description of the home school teaching environment;
- List of titles of all textbooks for home school courses;
- Copies of the table of content for textbooks utilized in core courses (a sampling); and
- Samples of work completed, such as papers by the students.
In addition, the NCAA requests a letter from the parent indicating that the home schooling was conducted in accordance with applicable state laws.
We have an adult son who was not homeschooled, but he was a great youth athlete. He played football, basketball, baseball and ran track. He was nine-years old when he first played baseball, playing on a competitive local baseball team. He made the all-star team at the end of the season. He excelled in sports. He had a desire to play football in college. Me and Omar did our best to help him get noticed by some nice Division 1A schools during his senior year of high school. His senior year of high school was fun! He was in the local paper almost every week, making it on the front page once. He made the local NBC high school highlights twice. He was interviewed by an ESPN youth program. He was on a very popular local sports blog all the time.
He attended a traditional private Christian high school and his coach contacted colleges on his behalf. But his coach was also working for 30 other high school football players wanting to play in college – so the bulk of the work, contacting colleges, was done by us – his parents, which will be the same for you as a home educator.
We went through all the eligibility requirements with the NCAA and NAIA – which will be the same for your homeschoolers. After following the academic procedures and eligibility requirements, we put together a wonderful highlight video for our son.
Most organized competitive sports leagues, including homeschool sports, use a sports software called HUDL. The games are usually filmed by one of the coaches and uploaded to HUDL.
All of our son’s games were filmed and uploaded to HUDL. You may also want to do you own filming. At the end of the football season we were able to create his highlight video directly from HUDL. The highlight video was just that, “highlights”. His video featured his touchdowns, his speed, and footwork during the actual games. The video opened with touchdowns to grab attention right away.
After his video was created, I sat down at my computer and emailed his highlight video to A LOT of colleges, which you can also do.
How did I do it?
I simply got a list of colleges and universities from the internet, looked up the coaching staff, and emailed the head coach. I sent a very polite email introducing myself and my son and asked them to view his highlight video. This was a very long and tedious process – but my son had a desire to play college sports – and we tried to help him. He even looked up some schools on his own. We did not know any better, but we did not start this process until his senior year of high school which is really late. You will want to start sending their video out by their sophomore year of high school. (If your child is getting some decent playing time, even at the end of their freshman year is a good starting point)
We received amazing feedback. Every coach that contacted me spoke very highly of the highlight video. I never once received a negative response from a coach for contacting them directly. I received responses within a few hours of me sending the video requesting his high school transcripts.
Putting together a highlight video can be a daunting task but HUDL is actually very easy to use. If you have the budget, and do not use HUDL, you can always hire someone to create the highlight video for you. However, I recommend you and your child sit in during the editing process. Your vision for the highlight video may not be the same as the video editor, and you will want to make sure the end product is to your liking.
Our son eventually chose a small NAIA college outside of Chicago.
Now, here comes the hard part
It is important to help your child, but allow them to make decisions on their own as they transition into adulthood.
After all the hard work we went through putting our son’s highlight video together and contacting schools, he eventually decided after his first semester of college he no longer wanted to play football. He wanted to venture onto a new path.
He had come to the conclusion that football was fun during high school, but it was not something he wanted to continue. We were obviously disappointed at first. We were more disappointed because he did not keep his commitment to the school, his coaches, and his teammates. But we know that as our children grow they have to learn how to make decisions and live with their decisions.
With that said, if you have a homeschooler who wants to play sports in college, I encourage you to do what you can to help them. Remember, I started this article by saying God gives us each a gift to use for His purpose and sports is one way. Our pastor has shared many times how college football was the pathway for him becoming a Christian. There are many professional athletes who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. There are many sports ministries and sports missionaries.
God is going to use your homeschooler for a great purpose, and college sports might be it. If your child has a desire to play sports in college, be sure to follow the academic and eligibility requirements first. Then do everything you can to help your child. You are his or her greatest cheerleader. They might have a great college career – and that’s it. They may not become a professional athlete or – maybe they will. The bottom line is, do what you can to help them succeed – and let God do the rest – bringing glory and honor to His name!
1 John 2:17 “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”
-Saleama A. Ruvalcaba