What are Your Secrets to Success? BUY-IN.

January 31st, 2018 | by Jake Hirshman
What are Your Secrets to Success? BUY-IN.
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Secrets to Success

[Ed.: “What are your secrets to success…” is a series written for College AD by the co-author of 20 Secrets to Success for NCAA Student-Athletes Who Won’t Go Pro, Jake Hirshman.]

While attempting to sell my book, 20 Secrets to Success for NCAA Student-Athletes Who Won’t Go Pro, I had the privilege of learning about student-athlete development from athletic directors, directors of student-athlete development, life skills coordinators, and other leadership and career development personnel. I had spoken with representatives of more than 105 Division-I schools at this point, as well as a couple Division-II and III schools, and all that contact lead to some interesting observations. 

It’s amazing that a sales effort could reveal new observations into student-athlete development. I wrote about my first three observations two weeks ago, have three more for you today, and stay tuned for the last four next week.

Observation 4: The toughest obstacle to overcome is to get the majority of student-athletes interested in their own development off the field.  Time demands and the lack of buy-in from the coaches certainly impact this obstacle.

There are three categories of student-athletes. There are those who probably know exactly what they want to do, and they are very academically focused. The athletes on the other side of the spectrum are focused on athletics and quite frankly just want to play sports and not go to class. Then there is everyone else in between. Getting the “middle” or majority section of student-athletes to buy into their development off the field is a struggle for most, especially when most development programs are optional. Student-athletes need to be made more aware of how important it is to maximize their experience and prepare for the transition to the real world. Whether they want to hear it or not, they need to be told often. Student-athletes have such a great opportunity and experience to take advantage of, and some don’t realize it until it’s too late.

Observation 5: BUDGETS are the biggest Achilles heel of student-athlete development. Money seems to be the excuse for everything, but a simple collaborative effort with the development staff to get a large donor or two to give to student-athlete development would be all a department may need.

It would be very easy to find a couple donors that are passionate about helping the student-athletes develop and transition successfully into life after sport. It comes down to the priorities of the athletic department and what equipment or facility they are trying to improve next. We all know there is an “arms race” to have the best facilities to be able to recruit the best athletes, but why not have the highest placement rate for jobs for student-athletes instead? Why isn’t that being used as a recruiting tool across the country?

Observation 6: Everything is SECRETIVE. Almost every school has no idea how they stack up against what other schools do for student-athlete development. Every school has different student-athletes, coaches, budgets, platforms, and personnel that create the environment for student-athletes to develop in, but why not come up with one model that can best serve every student-athlete?

I understand the competitive landscape of wanting to be the best and better than the other schools, but no one is giving away recruiting tips. The goal of student-athlete development is to positively impact the student-athletes and help develop them off the field throughout their time on campus.

These are only observations, but student-athlete development is an area in which schools shouldn’t be competing against each other for. We should be working together as a culture and community to better develop and prepare student-athletes all across the country. Having one set of meetings at N4A a year isn’t enough for personnel to really collaborate and build the best platforms to help student-athletes maximize their experience and be prepared for their future.

Jake Hirshman About Jake Hirshman
Jake Hirshman is a former student-athlete at the University of Redlands and Ohio University, and now co-author of “20 Secrets to Success for NCAA Student-Athletes Who Won’t Go Pro”. After finishing his undergraduate degree in 3 years, and bouncing back from a career changing injury, Hirshman pursued two masters degrees at Ohio University. One in Sport Sciences and Recreation, and the other as a member of the Sports Administration Program. After leaving Athens, he worked in Player Development for the Seattle Mariners, as a coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks Academy, and as Special Events Coordinator for Major League Baseball’s Arizona Fall League. As a young professional, Hirshman’s goal is to positively impact student-athletes and help prepare them for life after sport.

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