Author Topic: Parents with children looking to play in D3  (Read 68132 times)

Offline K-Mack

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Parents with children looking to play in D3
« on: November 09, 2005, 12:03:40 am »
Hey all,
 I get this sort of e-mail a couple of times a year, and instead of typing out the same heartfelt response each time, thought I would share it here and point people in the direction of it next time it comes up ... and of course, open up the floor to anyone who wants to chime in. E-mails and real names withheld, of course (I think)

Quote
Dear Mr. McMillen,
 
    I am the mother of a high school football player.  I will be honest with you--my son is neither an outstanding athlete nor an outstanding scholar.  He has, however, enjoyed being part of his high school football team, even though he gets very little playing time.  This is partially due to his lack of size (5'8", 165 lbs.), and his lack of speed.  Also, our team is one of the best in the state of Florida, and we have a lot of very talented boys, which means a lot of depth in each position, and not much chance for an average player to get much playing time.
   
     Even with all of the above, my son still really enjoys being on the team, and wishes he could get to play more often. Being part of the football team has truly been a life-changing experience for him.  It has given him self-confidence and self-discipline, and has helped him develop good leadership skills. And, though he rarely gets into the game, he still makes all the practices, and works very hard.  He has a good relationship with the coaches, and his best friends are his fellow players.
 
   My son is a senior this year, and, as we have been researching potential colleges, he has said that he wishes he could go to a small college that has a football program, where he could try out for the team as a walk-on.
   
      I am realistic enough to know that my son's chances of making any college team, no matter how small, are about zero. But as a concerned and caring parent, I would like to find out if such a small-college program exists.  As someone knowledgeable about small-college football programs,  I would appreciate your opinion and your insight on this subject. Thank you for your time.
 
Sincerely,
Mrs.xxxxxxxxx
xxxxxx@aol.com

Mrs. xxxxxxxxxxxxx,
 first off, you might be the most rational parent I've ever heard from, maybe even too rational. Size is not really the issue at Division III, I weighed 170 (and was 6'2" ... rail-thin) when I went to a D3 school as a freshman, and ended up playing four years, starting two, and filling out to about 195 with weight training and natural growth. A lot of kids come into Division III programs in your son's situation, or similar ones ... having played for a very small high school, being a good player on a losing high school team, missing the time they would have been recruited because they were hurt, or just being very average and not standing out among the players next to them. The good news is Division III and NAIA football is the place for kids like this if they still really want to play.
 
  I won't bore you with all the details right now, but feel free to write back and ask more. I definitely think your son should look into these levels, based on what you've written. Division III schools are all about recruiting students who happen to be athletes anyway. They want talent of course, but the chance to walk-on is very real. Maybe your son just hasn't discovered his talent yet, or the particular thing he's good at. I played with a guy who made the travelling team (you can usually only take 55 of your players on the road) all four years as a tight end because he was also our best long-snapper.
 
 What I'm trying to say is that if your son has the enthusiasm to play and wants to go to college, he can stick with football as long as he wants. Most Division III programs recruit as many kids as they can, and let them weed themselves out ... in other words, some talented kids emerge immediately, some take a few years, some realize they don't really like football that much and would rather just be a student. But all of that is better than not having an opportunity at all ... Certainly you'll want to look for something that's his speed socially, and academically, but you can probably tell I have great enthusiasm for small college football because of the opportunities it provides for people like myself and your son and tons of other kids who love football, but weren't born with the perfect physique, or didn't master the game fast enough to get a big-college scholarship.
 
 In any case, I'll be available if you want some more specific questions answered. There aren't many small schools near Florida, but I'll tell you what I know.
 
 Keith McMillan
 Keith@D3football.com
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Offline Mr. Ypsi

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Re: Parents with children looking to play in D3
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2005, 12:29:30 am »
Keith,

Wonderful response!  You kept hope alive without raising false hopes; you stressed academics over athletics; you pointed out how, even past age 18, bodies may change (sometimes even drastically).

My ONLY criticism is that you should have suggested her SON should write for further information!

Offline K-Mack

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Re: Parents with children looking to play in D3
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2005, 01:59:04 am »
Oh yeah. Good point.

I e-mailed back and forth with a parent in Texas a few years ago, and I believe the son is at Trinity or UMHB ... I'd had one update since. His story was great too, just a big player on a small-town team and couldn't get a sniff from the bigger schools ... which likely turns out to be a blessing.

If I get a chance to dig through my old inbox, I'll see if I can find those to share too. The question really does come up often, from people looking to transfer or get back into football after being out of the game for a few years ... I can't really recommend specific places without knowing a lot about what someone is looking for, but I can at least point them in the right direction.

FWIW.
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Offline Gray Fox

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Re: Parents with children looking to play in D3
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2005, 05:07:47 pm »
I once saw a really SLOW D3 receiver who could CATCH ANYTHING.  He ended up trying out for the Rams and making it to the final cut.  He had gone to a high school with a losing record.
At home I am a nice guy: but I don't want the world to know. Humble people, I've found, don't get very far. Muhammad Ali

Offline Coach C

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Re: Parents with children looking to play in D3
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2005, 08:44:43 am »
Hey Keith -

That is a great way to handle a very common question.  It's a little hard on the hoops side since the squad size is so much smaller, but if a family looks at a school that has established varsity AND JV programs, the chances of making a team are better.

Plus, a marginal student athlete who starts at the JV level will get a whole lot more coaching attention on JV than he would at the varsity level.  this will obviously help him make the most of his experience.  Many coaches also reward long time JV players with a spot on the varsity late in the player's career.

C

Offline DutchFan2004

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Re: Parents with children looking to play in D3
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2005, 09:45:54 pm »
K-Mack,

Great job! D-3 is about getting a degree and and education.  Sports can be a big part of the overall education ( I know you know this)  But I want my son to get his degree have fun, and hopefully some success on the field but get the degree so he can become a man and productive member of his community.  Hopefully that will happen.  Tell her its along ways but there are many great d3 schools all over the country and many in the IIAC.  I know Dubuque has many Florida players on their team. 
Play with Passion  Coach Ron Schipper

Offline Ryan Scott (Hoops Fan)

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Re: Parents with children looking to play in D3
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2005, 09:07:24 am »

How many role players have you seen only spend a year or two on the varsity team and then just move on to other things.  At the d3 level, most every kid has to know their playing career is ending and sometimes they realize that life has more important things for them to do.

In my experience, I've seen quite a number of athletes give up the last year or two of their college career because their time is better spent in work or study or other interests.  Besides, at a lot of schools you can get more glory for less work being an intramural legend than a hard-worker on the varsity squad.
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Offline bbald eagle

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Re: Parents with children looking to play in D3
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2005, 10:09:33 am »

At the d3 level, most every kid has to know their playing career is ending and sometimes they realize that life has more important things for them to do.  In my experience, I've seen quite a number of athletes give up the last year or two of their college career because their time is better spent in work or study or other interests.

You're pointing out part of the educational value of athletics even when the student decides not to play - the student can realize his own limitations or interests and also see what else is available; there is more to life and education than sports!  That knowledge is invaluable & some folks never seem to learn it.  ::)

Offline K-Mack

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Re: Parents with children looking to play in D3
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2005, 11:31:22 pm »
I told you I get this e-mail at least once a year. This one is not from a parent, but a longtime D3 watcher and future player, I'm sure. You guys want to tell him he's a perfect D3 candidate or should I?

(last name and real high school withheld)

Quote
Keith,
My name is Ken xxxxx and I have enjoyed reading your columns on d3football.com.  I used to live in Charlottesville, VA and me and my dad made the trip to the Stagg Bowl a couple of times a few years ago.  We saw Mount Union and Dan Pugh win big over Trinity, as well as see St. Johns upset Mount Union in one of the coldest days i can remember.  Anyways, I wanted to ask you about division 3 football.  I am a junior on a mediocre xxxxxx High football team, and I am an undersized guard.  I am quick and very athletic (I could probably play fullback or tight end as well) but I am needed on the line.  I was wondering if in division 3, would a team take a chance on me at 5-10, 235, with a pretty quick 40 time (I havent been officially timed).  Do you think a team would take a look at me?  I also was wondering about the division 3 recruiting process.  I know it has to be drastically diffferent from 1-A, and I was wondering if you could let me know how that works.  I get good grades, a good SAT score, I play baseball as well, and I am involved in a couple after shool activities.  Are those the type of things these schools look for? I'm sorry if I'm asking a lot of questions, but I really have no clue how recruiting works in D3 and what teams are looking for.  Thank you for your time and keep up the good work on your column,
 
Ken xxxxx
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and one of the two voices behind the sonic #d3fb nerdery that is the ATN Podcast.

Offline Ryan Scott (Hoops Fan)

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Re: Parents with children looking to play in D3
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2005, 11:50:24 am »

So how many coaches have called you for information on this kid already?  I'm sure there will be quite a few, assuming they monitor the site.
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union89

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Re: Parents with children looking to play in D3
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2005, 12:52:17 am »
I told you I get this e-mail at least once a year. This one is not from a parent, but a longtime D3 watcher and future player, I'm sure. You guys want to tell him he's a perfect D3 candidate or should I?

(last name and real high school withheld)

Quote
Keith,
My name is Ken xxxxx and I have enjoyed reading your columns on d3football.com.  I used to live in Charlottesville, VA and me and my dad made the trip to the Stagg Bowl a couple of times a few years ago.  We saw Mount Union and Dan Pugh win big over Trinity, as well as see St. Johns upset Mount Union in one of the coldest days i can remember.  Anyways, I wanted to ask you about division 3 football.  I am a junior on a mediocre xxxxxx High football team, and I am an undersized guard.  I am quick and very athletic (I could probably play fullback or tight end as well) but I am needed on the line.  I was wondering if in division 3, would a team take a chance on me at 5-10, 235, with a pretty quick 40 time (I havent been officially timed).  Do you think a team would take a look at me?  I also was wondering about the division 3 recruiting process.  I know it has to be drastically diffferent from 1-A, and I was wondering if you could let me know how that works.  I get good grades, a good SAT score, I play baseball as well, and I am involved in a couple after shool activities.  Are those the type of things these schools look for? I'm sorry if I'm asking a lot of questions, but I really have no clue how recruiting works in D3 and what teams are looking for.  Thank you for your time and keep up the good work on your column,
 
Ken xxxxx

Man...In my opinion, that's what it's all about!!  I'm a knucklehead from the Liberty League board who speaks in the 3rd person, but this is all of us to some degree!!

I (Union89) went to Union College, was way undersized and had no opportunity to play at the D1 level (5'11", 230)....Union89 was a 3 year starter, played in a Stagg and was captain senior year.......the lessons learned juggling football, fraternity and the commitment to both have led Union89 to a successful emotional and financial life in '05!!

Keep chasing what you enjoy & it will make you a better individual 10 years from now......I PROMISE!!

~ Best of Luck!

WLU78

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Re: Parents with children looking to play in D3
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2005, 06:18:28 am »
Your topic is of great interest to me.  I have a son who is a senior in high school and would like to play football in college.  He is only 6'1.5" and 245 so he is too small for the D1 template.  He has been a four year starter (DT)  going both ways (OT & DT) his junior and senior years.  He has decent SAT scores and a decent GPA, and has been accepted at 'Bama and Ole Miss.  He has some DII and NAIA schools recruiting him as well as one DIII school that has recruited him most of the season (but his sister goes there and he really wants his "own" school). 

I called and left messages at a couple of schools requesting info on the protocol for sending them film.  Only Hampden Sydney and Centre returned the call, and gave me instructions on sending them film.  I am not sure where to go from here.  His high school coach is sending the film to some D1-AA schools and others, so do we just wait?  Or do we just send film blindly and see what kind of response we get?  (As an aside, I am pushing DIII and am counting on the coaches selling him on smaller is better!)

Any insight and advice will help.

Go Generals!!!!

Offline TigerDad

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Re: Parents with children looking to play in D3
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2005, 06:26:39 pm »
I e-mailed back and forth with a parent in Texas a few years ago, and I believe the son is at Trinity or UMHB ... I'd had one update since. His story was great too, just a big player on a small-town team and couldn't get a sniff from the bigger schools ... which likely turns out to be a blessing.


K-Mack;

I just ran across this topic during a few spare minutes.  That was me.  Without revealing too much personal info, my son did in fact decide (on his own) to go to Trinity and played for the Tigers as a freshman this past season.  We did visit UMHB, but Trinity was a better choice for his selected major.  He also had "walk-on" invitations from two well-known D1 schools in Texas.  He passed on them for several reasons, including the fact that he hoped to play sooner and not have to devote most of his time to athletics at the expense of his classroom duties.  The smaller school size was more his style, too.  Skip to the present ... he believes that he did make the right decision.  He made the travelling squad and got to play in every game, at least on special teams.  He also played behind some excellent upperclassmen who took a genuine interest in his progress and success.  Yes, we do consider it a blessing.

The reason I wrote you in the first place was because we knew almost nothing about D3 football athletics (or schools, for that matter).  Your thoughtful reply was very helpful to us in the recruiting and decision process ... thanks for taking the time to compose a personal reply that addressed our concerns and also gave us some idea what to look for.

I do have that e-mail conversation from the Spring of 2005 (seems longer ago to me too).  I would like to post it with your permission.  Send me an e-mail and let me know fi that's OK with you ... I can send you a preview first if you prefer.


WLU78; (and others in the same situation)

Congratulations for taking the time to carefully consider your son's options.  Glad to see that you found this website and particularly this topic.  It's an important one.

My son's story is much the same as your son's.  Small high school 4-year varsity starter both ways.  Recruited but not.  D1 schools hemmed and hawed, then backed away slowly, despite state-wide honors too numerous to mention.  D3 schools were happy to discuss his prospects there and without any pretense of "possibilities" that "might" come true (or not).  Do not think that D3 is somehow a "step down" ... just a different road.  For some, it's better.  I suggest you talk to some current players and their parents at the schools your son is considering.  The good news is that you have more time and you don't have to commit to anything until the school's admission deadlines ... usually in April or May.  Remember D1 signing day is in early February.

Here's a pretty comprehensive review of Division III athletics by the NCAA:
http://www2.ncaa.org/legislation_and_governance/committees/division3.html
(see especially "What does Division III have to offer?")

Important:
Make sure you register your son with the NCAA Clearinghouse for athletic eligibility ... definitely needed for Division I and Division II prospective student-athletes:
http://www.ncaaclearinghouse.net/ncaa/NCAA/common/index.html

Maybe some other posters have other references or experiences they'd like to share.


Bottom line:  All parents of good high school athletes should consider a quality D3 school as a very good alternative to "lower numbered" levels.  Especially when an athletic scholarship is hinted but not offered.  A great athlete can prosper and accomplish great things at any level ... the only things missing are not necessarity beneficial (TV & press coverage, financial pressure, missed classroom time, distant roadtrips, a lot of negative influences, etc.)  And, if you check into the financial picture carefully, you may find that smaller school tuition and expenses actually add up to LESS than the larger and state-affiliated schools.

My son's teammates are some of the finest young men I have met, period.  Most are serious & committed students who enjoy "pure" football at its finest.  Doesn't hurt to play for a winner, either.

D3Football is fantastic.
 ;D
Trinity Tiger Football ... where champions compete on and off the field.

Offline TigerDad

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Re: Parents with children looking to play in D3
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2006, 09:34:29 am »
With K-Mack's permission, here's a series of e-mails we exchanged last spring, edited somewhat for length and privacy.  I hope some of y'all find this helpful to you in your search for the right place for your sons (or daughters) to play college sports ... D3 has worked out great for our family.

Quote
-----Original Message-----
From: TigerDad
Sent: Monday, February 07, 2005 12:26 PM
To: K-Mack
Subject: D3Football Question

Dear K-Mack;

Read your overview & awards on D3Football.com ("Best and Worst of 2004").  Nice work and good reading ... looks like you really know D3 football and I, on the other hand, do not.

My son is a 4-year small town high school football star with great stats and a Texas Class 1A (smallest school division) state championship this year.  In his career, his team has gone 49-8, including 14-2 in 2003 and 16-0 in 2004.  He's rushed for over 5000 yards in his career and had 40 rushing TD's this year at running back in the Veer offense.  He was also a starter at LB and was the team leader in tackles.

Despite many awards and honors, my son was not recruited by NCAA D-I schools, period.  Kind of insulting, but not completely surprising ... he's 6'0", 195 and 4.6.  Both Navy and Air Force did contact him, but he did not follow up as he really wants to stay closer to home.

He is, however, getting some attention from several D-III schools in Texas, including X, Y and Z Colleges.

Here's my question:  What's your opinion of these schools and do you think D-III is a good level of play?

From your article, I see that you are an expert and I would welcome any and all comments you might have on this subject.

Thanks for your time ...
TigerDad

Quote
-----Original Message-----
From: K-Mack
Sent: Tuesday, February 08, 2005 1:42 AM
To: TigerDad
Subject: Re: D3Football Question

TigerDad,

I played in Division III myself, so of course I'm going to tell you it's a good level of play, but I mean it. I have since covered the NFL and Division I-A, and what I find is the game is equally complex in Division III -- in other words, we're being taught the same schemes, but the players in Division III are generally smaller, a bit slower and well aware that their studies is the ticket to the pay day. I played with and against a lot of guys like your son, who were great great players, and maybe a couple inches too short or not quite as fast as the big colleges would like.

Generally in D3 you get less attention than some big schools, but some small D-Is get less media coverage than a St. John's, Mount Union or Rowan. But you don't get star treatment most of the time on campus, and almost never when you leave it. There's good support for most of the teams, 5,000-10,000 fans, which can be less than some had at their games in high school, but still make up pretty raucous crowds.

The three Texas schools you mentioned are all great places to go if your son is concerned  with wins and losses. A lot of players who come from losing programs in high school really put that high on the list, but your son doesn't have that problem. He's experienced a championship, so I'd advise him to find a place that he's comfortable -- socially, academically and with his role on the football team -- and give it his all.

I chose Division III over a chance to go I-AA and try to earn a scholarship. I had some academic scholarships that allowed me to do that, but it cost more in the long run, and still I'll never regret it. We had some great times and some great teams, and I got to really contribute to something special. I just remember thinking I could never envision myself in the stands rooting when I knew I could be out there playing, and so it was the move for me.

Hope that helps your son figure out what his next move will be. Let me know how it turns out.

K-Mack

Quote
-----Original Message-----
From: TigerDad
Sent: Tuesday, February 08, 2005 8:04 AM
To: K-Mack
Subject: RE: D3Football Question


Dear K-Mack;

Thanks very much for your thoughtful reply.  I appreciate that you took time to give me such a clear picture of your experience with and opinion of D-III football.

Frankly, your comments have reinforced those I've heard from some of the coaches and players at the schools we've visited so far ... it seems that D-III might work out just great for my son.  His mom and I have always prayed that he would find the right school with the right balance of academics, athletics, and friends.  After the initial disappointment of the lack of recognition by D-I, we're starting to feel like things are working out for the best.  As you wrote, it's more expensive the D-III way, but may turn out to be worth more in the long run.

He says that he doesn't want to wonder "what if" he had played college ball someday.  I'm hoping he will have the same impression and experience you had/have with college football.  I couldn't ask for more.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with us ... I'll send you another note after he makes his decision this spring.  Hope to see you at the Stagg Bowl someday!!

Best Regards,
TigerDad


Trinity Tiger Football ... where champions compete on and off the field.

Offline JacketsFan

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Re: Parents with children looking to play in D3
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2006, 10:41:07 pm »
K-Mack, I'd be interested in knowing which Florida High School the letter writing parent was talking about. My own son graduated from a Florida high school program and is now in his third year at Defiance, getting a good education and having the time of his life playing football. I just now happened across the bulletin board and saw this posting. If you want to refer this Florida parent to me, please feel free. A lot of Florida players/parents have apprehensions about going so far away from home to attend college and play football. I would be more than happy to offer words of encouragement to anyone who's considering it.