Professional Athletic Opportunities for Community College Students

Learn how community college can facilitate professional athletic opportunities for its students.
While many high school students may be committed to their sport of focus, the collegiate programs in athleticism provide a much more intense base for improvement. Practices are longer, more frequent, more intense, and provide more discipline. As students work towards careers as professional athletes, students can utilize the opportunities of a community college athletic program to improve their mental and physical success.
  
The Benefits of Community Colleges for Striving Professional Athletes
 
An Expanding Number of Programs
 
In recent years, more community colleges are initiating athletic programs that expand the number of teams with the existing number of programs. “More students are wisely selecting the community college as the entrance point to higher education because of affordability, accessibility, and academic rigor,” according to researchers Laura Byrd and Mitchell Williams. As the development of strong athletic programs continues, “community colleges across the nation are establishing or expanding intercollegiate athletics programs at a consistent pace,” making the support for potential athletes more foundational and accessible.
 
Physical and Mental Training
 
Students looking to pursue careers as professional athletes must choose a school that will not only provide them with beneficial athletic training, but mental and technical instruction opportunities as well. Since the community college training experiences are intense and more individualized than high school training opportunities, college coaches are able to work with athletes on both mental and physical levels.  Community colleges work to discipline athletes, both academically and physically. In fact, most institutions require athletes to maintain academic standards to remain on the teams.  
 
Amateur Tournament Venues
 
Since becoming a professional athlete takes years of effort, many professional athletes reveal that their involvement in amateur tournaments at both the high school and college levels helped foster their improved success. Since the college level provides students with a great deal of opportunities, college sporting venues are known to attract a great deal of attention, as more professional scouts attend collegiate amateur events, according to the United States Department of Labor. By competing at the advanced college level, students are provided with more opportunities for professional exposure.   
 
Tools for Success: How Athletes Can Find Support
 
The Benefits of a Professional Scout
 
For high school students looking to pursue a career as a professional athlete, college scouts may play a key role in helping a student choose a potential school. According to the Department of Labor, “Professional scouts evaluate the skills of both amateur and professional athletes to determine talent and potential. As a sports intelligence agent, the scout’s primary duty is to seek out top athletic candidates for the team he or she represents.” Oftentimes, a college scout may pursue a potential student, providing them with information regarding their specific school, helping the student to choose a program of study, while also providing a student insight into the athletic training and areas of support.
 
To find talent, scouts seek out athletes through various means, ranging from the local newspaper, speaking with coaches, and watching videotapes of game performances. As students are working towards their careers as professional athletes, the community college scouts seek out well-rounded students with both a great deal of physical ability, paired with a strong history of a solid work ethic. Ultimately, in many professional sports, the college education is the key to opening a sports career. In fact, most professional players are first found by scouts who are seeking college players. As college scouts often work with professional scouts, the exposure to these agents allows athletes to gain recognition as they work towards their goal of going pro.       
 
Community College Scholarships and Assistance
 
As an increasing number of athletes are attending community college to gain more opportunities for advancement, more scholarship programs are offering assistance for promising athletes who demonstrate great academic and athletic potential. For example, some opportunities, such as The Professional Baseball Scholarship, provide students with the promise of work upon completion of their degree program. With such scholarship prospects, students are able to improve their skills, work towards a degree, and simultaneously work with the intended agreement to play as a professional athlete. 
 
The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA)
 
As students are working towards pursuing their careers as professional athletes while in community college, the NJCAA is an organization that can offer a great deal of support and assistance for students and teams. Established in 1937, NJCAA “offers an organization that can meet the individual needs of all students because it provides national competition for all eligible member schools through regional affiliation.” This gives aspiring professional athletes a means in which to compete, opportunities that may lead to a scout’s discovery.
 
Students can utilize NJCAA to find out more about college rankings, athletic opportunities, and news updates regarding both amateur and professional sports venues. Students can visit http://www.njcaa.org to search and find out information on schools based on college name, sport, or region. Since each student may desire a school based upon costs, location, and both athletic and academic opportunities, NJCAA provides students with the opportunity to search schools based on the organization’s information and standards.    
 
References:
 
Byrd, Laura Ann, and Mitchell R. Williams. “Expansion of Community College Athletic Programs, available at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa4057/is_200710/ai_n21185468/pg_3
 
“Definition and Nature of the Work,” available at http://careers.stateuniversity.com/pages/550/Professional-Athlete.html
 
National Junior College Athletic Association, available at http://www.njcaa.org/purpose.cfm
 
United States Department of Labor, “Athletes, Coaches, Umpires, and Related Workers,” available at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos251.htm

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