The Sun News

KENT: Advice to parents of high school athletes

Last week, our son Scotty sat in the media center at Warner Robins High School and celebrated with his coaches, family and classmates the fact that he hasn’t played his last football game.

Scotty signed to play at Shorter University -- trading in his Demon red for a color of blue very similar to a crosstown’s school’s blue. Scotty actually signed back in February, after visiting Shorter twice in one week, he decided on being a Hawk.

The last year of our lives -- and I say our because although we left the decision totally to Scotty, he did ask for the advice of his father and me -- has been a little crazy to say the least. Although he is just shy of 6’3” and right at 300 pounds, he isn’t big enough for the “big boys” so while he had plenty of attention over the past year, none of it came from Mark Richt or Nick Saban.

The SEC didn’t knock on our front door, but plenty of other colleges did -- 82 in fact. That’s right -- that’s not a typo. I kept a scrapbook for him and counted it up -- 82 college coaches either emailed, texted, called or visited our home in the past 12 months. One night back in January, four coaches called in one evening -- Scotty talked on the phone from about 6 p.m. to near midnight because a coach on the West Coast forgot about the time difference.

I say all of this not to brag; I say it to make a point. Almost every parent I know of an athlete and most of the players dream of what our family experienced last week -- having a signing ceremony. I am not an expert, I am a mom who has just watched her son go through the recruiting process and I thought for all those sports parents out there, I would pass along a little advice.

Grades matter. They actually seem to matter the most. Of the 82 college coaches that talked with Scotty -- 100 percent -- of them asked Scotty what his GPA was. It was in fact, one of the first questions a coach asked. Close behind was whether he had taken the ACT or SAT and what his score was. Close behind the grades question was the social media question. Scotty was asked by coaches for his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts -- and most followed him on Twitter during the past year, reading all his posts and tweets.

Here in Houston County, we are blessed with a wonderful tool: Infinite Campus. If your child wants to play sports in college, then my advice is to be on there every day. From the minute they step foot on a high school campus, the impact they make in the classroom counts.

My second piece of advice is to stalk them on social media. I am not really sure it counts as “stalking” since we are talking about your own child. Let’s face it -- they are teenagers and they say and do dumb things. One of the dumbest things they do is doing a dumb thing and then posting it online. You can’t watch their every move unless you give up sleeping but for us, it just took a couple of times of telling Scotty using my outside voice to take down a tweet that was questionable before he learned that what his fellow teenagers would think was funny and what a college coach would think was funny were two different things.

I was a sports reporter when I started out and even now still have the chance to cover college signings. Whether you are sitting at the table or taking the picture, it is big fun to be part of somebody’s dreams coming true. As a parent, we can’t do much about their performance on the field, but you can give them the opportunity to have an opportunity by staying on them about their grades and their participation on social media.

Alline Kent can be reached at allinekent@cox.net or 478-396-2467.

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