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Pathway to college and pro sports takes hard work

Posted on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 4:28 pm

EDITORIAL---RONMany Van-Far and Community R-VI athletes are starting their Spring sports season with the hopes of achieving success that might take them to the collegiate level or professional level.
While I’m never one to discourage athletes from their dreams, I do think it is important they realize the uphill climb they have to accomplish them.
Recently, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) released a probability chart showing actual numbers of the student population that actually reach any of the NCAA Division I-III levels or reach professional status.
The chart displays several figures among the sports of basketball, football, baseball, ice hockey, and soccer.
For example, the chart notes there are 538,676 high school student athletes participating in men’s basketball.
At one time there are 153,907 senior athletes.
Just 17,984 men’s basketball players continue their careers for an NCAA Division I, II, or III program. This is narrowed down further to 5,138 freshman roster positions and 3,996 NCAA seniors.
Among this group, just 46 players are drafted by the NBA.
This results in just 3.3% of high school athletes playing in the NCAA at any of the three levels. Just 1.2% go from the NCAA to pro ball while only .03% make the jump to the pros directly from high school.
With these odds, it truly is amazing just how far Van-Far graduate Mike Smith has come, from playing games on Highway 54 to now playing in Europe with hopes of seeing time on the court this summer for an NBA team.
Since the local districts just started baseball, it’s important to note the local rosters are among the 474,791 other high school players.
Only 32,450 will play in the NCAA. Just 9.4% will be drafted  to play professional baseball from the NCAA and 6.5% will play in the NCAA coming out of high school.
If a student athlete truly wants to make their professional sports dreams a reality, it’s extremely important they understand the slim odds of making it.
So what could get a high school student over the hump? It all starts with hard work.
Spending consistent time in the weight room and consistent time working on conditioning is a great start.
Add in countless hours of practice and any student athlete has a chance to continue their careers at the next level.
And remember, the statistics provided were geared towards the NCAA. Area athletes have the unique opportunity of participating on the NAIA levels.
Though it might be difficult to receive recognition outside of the NAIA, in these days taken over by social media, anything can happen.
If a student athlete wants to get recognized they might have to get creative.
A great example of a small college success is former Division III Monmouth College quarterback Alex Tanney. Three years ago, Tanney put together a Youtube video that now has 3.8 million views. He performed incredible trick throws that gained him nationwide recognition. Coming from a small school, he eventually received enough recognition to get invited to an NFL camp.
Three teams and three years later, Tanney is still collecting a check on Sundays mostly as a back up playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, and Cleveland Browns. Just visit Youtube.com and search “Alex Tanney” to find his amazing video. He was also featured on the History Channel’s show “Superhumans.”
As a sports fan of our local districts, I’m encouraged to hear more and more about the time athletes are spending in the weight room or with conditioning.
If this trend continues, the next five years should be a treat for area sports fans.