Howard County Times
Howard County

Howard County to host NCAA Night for parents, students

Occasionally Long Reach High School counselor Susan Bradley will ask a senior student-athlete what he or she wants to do after high school.

"I'm going to play in college," the student replies.

"Where are you going to play?"

"I'm going to play at Syracuse."

"Well, you're in 12th grade," Bradley says. "Has the Syracuse coach contacted you?"

Most often Bradley hears, "Well, no," in a tone that reveals the student has no idea why she would ask such a question. That's one of the reasons why Long Reach will host the fourth annual County Wide NCAA Night, an event presented by the Howard County school system that informs students and parents about the collegiate recruiting process.

Slated for Nov. 30, the event will feature compliance officers from Towson and Stevenson universities and a panel that will include amateur sports officials in Howard County that played a collegiate sport and parents of children who play, or are about to play, in college.

"We want to make the parents and students more informed about what options exist out there for them," said Bradley, whose daughter, Marriotts Ridge lacrosse coach Amanda Tack, played lacrosse at Salisbury University.

The event seeks to dispel myths about recruiting expectations, offers insight on NCAA Clearinghouse rules, and aims to give students and parents realistic expectations about playing at the major college (Division I) level, while offering information about smaller schools and junior colleges.

NCAA Night began a few years ago after Long Reach officials noticed an increase in students interested in playing sports at the Division I level but lacking information about how to approach the recruiting process.

"Many of them felt they were at a disadvantage because Division I, II and III schools all recruit differently," said Bradley. "There are different rules for each of them, and even within a school different sports recruit differently."

Locally, Division I schools include the University of Maryland, College Park, and Towson. Bowie State is a Division II school. Division III schools include Stevenson, McDaniel College and Goucher College. Other schools, such as the Johns Hopkins University, play sports in more than one division.

Some parents, like Lisa Boarman, the Howard school system's coordinator for counseling and related services, know that the process is long and arduous, one that begins well before a student athlete is a senior.

Boarman, whose daughter Jenna Boarman plays lacrosse at Mount Hebron High School, said that they visited a dozen schools for lacrosse, including Notre Dame and Louisville, before Jenna decided on Boston University. They considered many factors that most students weigh, such as big city or college town.

"We felt that families needed to be educated about the process and the eligibility requirements," said Boarman. "It can be overwhelming for parents if they're not educated about it. What I've seen is that many parents think that they need to hire a recruiting firm if their child may be good enough in a sport to get athletic money.

"While our focus isn't totally on that in the workshop, parents need to know that. Parents who are not as well educated in the process can spend a lot of money using that. The best advice I can give to any student is that you better do well academically to have the most opportunities."

Bradley said that for the most part, when students discover that they are not bound for a major college sports program, they take the news in stride. As for parents, she says, that's another matter.

"Usually … I sit with the kids by themselves and when we start to talk about it, they'll say, 'I know; it's really not me. It's my dad,' " Bradley said. "Kids do a better self-assessment of themselves, and where they fit with their peers, than parents do."

NCAA Night

The County Wide NCAA Night will be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 30 at Long Reach High School, 6101 Old Dobbin Lane, Columbia.