Collegiate Athletics: Scholarships and the Recruiting Process ft. Lisa Stone of 'ParentingAces'.

Updated: Jul 20






Kriti: [00:00:00] Hey guys. Welcome to WhyFI Matter$. This summer has definitely been headlined by a lot of sporting events. I think partly because obviously last year, some of them had to be canceled. So 2021 summer has definitely been making up for that. We've had the, we're having the NBA playoffs, Wimbledon, the UEFA Euro 2020, and of course coming up the Olympics.

So I wanted to kind of combined my enthusiasm and love for it. Into the podcast. So definitely stay tuned for more episodes in the upcoming weeks related to sports, but today's episode will primarily be on college athletics and the transition for high school student athletes to the collegiate level and the different scholarships you can get.

And basically the logistics of playing in the NCAA and, or getting recruited to play in the NCAA. Some of, you might know that I play tennis and I was super excited to talk to our guest for today's episode, who is a tennis parent and fellow podcaster, Lisa Stone. She is a founder of ParentingAces, which is a resource that helps guide parents and their children through the very complicated world of junior year. We recorded this episode a few months ago, so I'm very excited to finally share it with you. I hope you enjoy the interview.


Hi, Lisa, thank you so much for coming on. WhyFI Matter$ today. I am super excited because obviously I played tennis and I've never really talked a lot about that on the podcast. So super excited to sort of merge what I've been doing here with what I do outside. My little podcasting closet, basically. And talk more about college recruiting and that process as it definitely relates to, you know, like colleges and also finances and basically your future so hopefully this will be helpful for any of the athletes out there, uh, specifically tennis players. This might help you a lot too. So thank you so much for coming in.


Lisa: [00:02:31] Absolutely. Thanks so much for inviting me.


Kriti: [00:02:33] So can you please give us a brief, brief background on your involvement in the tennis world, but also how and why did you even start parenting ACEs?


Lisa: [00:02:46] Sure. So just quick about, about me, my background, I grew up in a tennis family in Louisiana. My dad played collegiate tennis at Tulane and was on the national championship team there. And so my brothers and I all grew up learning how to play tennis and playing competitively. The only one of us that was really good at tennis was my youngest brother. And he went on to play D-3 tennis, but only for one year. And and then kind of left the sport for a while. Has come back to it as an adult, I came back to it as an adult as well. I played in high school and did not go on to play college tennis, but, uh, came back to, to the sport when I had my own children and they started taking tennis lessons and, uh, I've been a fan and a player and a tennis parent, uh, ever since


Kriti: [00:03:41] I have a few. Questions like, who's your a, who's your favorite player? B have you been to any tournament and C if you could play any buddy, who would that be?


Lisa: [00:03:55] Oh, my goodness. Okay. My favorite overall player is Rafael Nadal. I absolutely love


Kriti: [00:04:01] him. I love him so much on time. Uh, we went to Wimbledon and I've never seen him play a match, but he was practicing. And on the Wimbledon practice courts, people are like right next door to the courts. He was probably 10 feet away from me and it was, I still remember. It was


Lisa: [00:04:20] amazing. Watching him practice is amazing. He is such an incredible role model for players coming up in the sport and really for kids, regardless of what their interests are, the way he approaches his tennis is so professional. So sane you know, I've been in, I've been lucky enough to be in the interview room with him and had the opportunity to ask him questions after matches and his approach to even losses is so incredible. He, you know, he says, ah, it's a, it's a tennis match. Like it's just not the end of the world. Right. So he's my favorite.

And my favorite tournament.


Kriti: [00:05:01] Have you been to any or like what?


Lisa: [00:05:03] Yeah . So I think on a professional level, my absolute favorite to go to is Indian Wells. Love going to Indian Wells. It's just the environment. They're so much fun. And the access to the players is so incredible. So would be my favorite. And if I could play against anybody. Oh, my gosh. I don't know. My, my new young favorite is Tsitipas, so


Kriti: [00:05:29] well, we have two same answers. I love him so


Lisa: [00:05:33] much. Yeah. I do follow him on


Kriti: [00:05:36] Twitter. I follow him on Instagram and I've seen his Twitter. He's very much engaged and he has a life outside. The court.


Lisa: [00:05:44] Exactly. Which is what I really like about him. And he's got a very philosophical approach to tennis and to life.

And I always am intrigued to read what he's going to come up with next. So, so yeah, I think that was it. Is, are those the questions?


Kriti: [00:05:58] I think those are, those are the questions.


Lisa: [00:06:01] And then you asked me how I started parenting ACEs and that got started because my youngest child, my son really fell in love with the sport at a young age and had the goal to play college tennis at a high level.

And I. Was committed to helping him reach his goal, but didn't know how to help him. Tennis had changed so much from my junior tennis days. And, uh, I really just, I was having trouble getting answers to my questions about what he needed to be doing, what I needed to be doing as his parent and how to help guide him through the stages to reach that level of division one tennis.

So. I started asking questions everywhere. I was asking parents at tournament's. I was asking the governing body. I was asking all the coaches that I met, and I finally stumbled on a Facebook group that was able to give me really solid and helpful answers to my questions. And somebody in that group said, Hey, Lisa, if you've got these questions, the probably other parents out there that have similar questions, why don't you throw all this stuff up on a website?

So ParentingAces was born and about nine months in, I was invited to host my first podcast. And so that's how our podcast got started. And that was the website was started in 2011 and the podcast started a few months after in 2012.

Kriti: [00:07:29] You've been doing it for a very long


Lisa: [00:07:31] time. I have, I've seen a lot of change.

I've guided and watched my own kid go through the process and I'm now on the other side of it and it's been an incredible,


Kriti: [00:07:42] that's awesome. I think it's really helpful. There are so many questions surrounding, you know, college sports, especially cause , the U S we have a very I think it's a big part of the culture and a big part of like a lot of people play sports here in this country, you know? So could you brief briefly, describe the structure. College sports in America.


Lisa: [00:08:03] I'll do my best. College sports in the U S are divided into different divisions.

There's division one division two division three, then there's NAIAand the junior college division. The NCAA is only in charge of divisions. One, two, and three. Hmm. And NAIA and Juco junior colleges are governed separately. They're not under the NCAA auspices. So any rules around recruiting scholarships, all of that for divisions, one, two, and three are set by the NCAA for NAIA and Juco. They have other bodies that set the rules for them. There's kind of this misconception out there that division one, two, and three is kind of a hierarchy with division one at the top than division two than division three, in terms of level of play level of competition and all that in tennis, that's really not true.

The tip-top division one programs and the tip top division two, and the tip top division three are very competitive with one another, especially as tennis has become more international. And we're seeing so many more players coming to the states from other countries to, you know, test their metal against the American players in the college system.

And even at the NAIA level. Because they have different rules. Some of those teams are incredibly competitive against the top D one and D two and D three teams. So I would kind of, kind of warn your listeners that don't think of division one as the best and division three is the worst. It's not, it doesn't work that way be open-minded


Kriti: [00:09:48] so I have never heard it. NAIA and then junior college before. Can you tell us more about them? This is, I've only thought there's DI, DII or DIII.

Lisa: [00:10:00] three, right. And with NCAA, that is the case, but NAIA schools are typically smaller schools. They have very. Relaxed rules around recruiting and scholarships. And so typically you'll see at NAI schools on their tennis teams older players, uh, because the NCAA has age restrictions for.

Joining a team. NAIA does not. And they also have looser restrictions regarding scholarships. So if it's a well-funded school, they'll oftentimes have a lot of scholarship money available that may not be available at the NCAA division schools. Junior college is just two year colleges. So typically what happens is. You go to a junior college for two years and then you have to transfer into a four year college or university if you want to complete your degree. So what happens in terms of tennis is players that maybe academically or just tennis level wise, aren't ready for a four-year university when they finish high school.

Well take a year or two and go to junior college. And the cool thing is the junior college tennis coaches network very closely with the other divisions. And so if a junior college coach has a player that's doing very well and looking to transfer to a four-year school, they'll oftentimes reach out to their buddies and do you want two and three and say, Hey, I've got this player.

You really ought to take a look at them. You know, they might make a good addition to your. So that's interesting.


Kriti: [00:11:40] I didn't know about that option. I want to talk a little bit about athletic scholarships. So what are the different types of college tennis programs and which ones offer Scholarships.


Lisa: [00:11:52] I guess. Yeah. Yeah. So there's also a lot of, kind of misunderstanding out there about how the scholarships work. And so again, division one offers athletic scholarships, uh, for tennis, there are four and a half scholarships offered for men's teams and eight scholarships offered for women's teams.

The women's scholarships are. Full scholarships. So if you get one of those eight scholarships on a team, you are getting fully funded, you know, your, your college career, assuming that the tennis program. Has its scholarships fully funded. So even though they're allowed to offer eight scholarships on the women's side and four and a half on the men's side, not every school has enough money to do that.

So it's very important when you're going through the recruiting process that you ask the question, are you fully funded for scholarships? That's an important thing to know. And the only way to find out is to ask the coach, there's no website. You can. NCAA doesn't publish this information. None of the tennis recruiting sites publish that information.

So you just have to ask. And so at division one, again, there are scholarships available on the men's side for division one, scholarships are usually. Divided up among the players. It's very rare for a men's tennis player to get a full ride. It happens and it, but typically it only happens for the very top players in a recruiting class. So most of the time men's players at D one are getting partial scholarships. Now, the cool thing is you can supplement those partial scholarships with. Academic scholarship money or other types of scholarships that you may find it in your community or through grants or work study programs or things like that.

So just because you're not getting a full athletic scholarship doesn't mean that you have to come out of pocket for the balance. There are other ways to fund your education. D two is similar. They have athletic scholarships available for men and women. D three, however, does not have athletic scholarships at all.

Neither do the Ivy league schools. And by the way, the IVs are division one, but they do not offer athletic scholarships. Yep. Now, When people hear that and they think, well, if I don't go D one or D two, I'm not going to get any scholarship money. That's not true. Division three tennis coaches are often really, really good at helping families work with the admissions department and the financial aid office at their schools to put together a financial package that works.


Kriti: [00:14:42] That's interesting.

Lisa: [00:14:44] Yeah. And so a lot of times, especially on the men's side, Players get more money at a D three school than they would get at a D one school. Wow. Yeah.


Kriti: [00:14:54] That's Hmm. I did not think about that before. It's important to see like what school is right for you, but also you have, there's a other side of the financial side of it.


Lisa: [00:15:06] Yeah. Also opportunities. A lot of colleges do summer tennis camps or do tennis camps over winter break or spring break. And those are great opportunities for members on the tennis team to earn a little extra money too.


Kriti: [00:15:19] Oh, yeah. You can help out with


Lisa: [00:15:21] the yeah.

Help with the camps to be a coach or, you know, stay in the dorm with the kids or whatever, you know, the program is. Yeah.

Kriti: [00:15:29] So what is I was when I was researching questions for this, I came across NCAA Eligibility. I know it's a hard one. How does this center determine that a student is eligible for college sports?


Lisa: [00:15:49] So it's really important if you're in high school that you go to the NCAA website and register with the eligibility center. Your freshmen or at the latest or sophomore year and the eligibility center tracks your academic progress to ensure that the courses you're taking in high school will maintain your eligibility to play college athletics.

So that's true across all sports in college. So you go online, you fill out a profile and basically. They, you are connecting the NCAA with your high school transcripts so that they can track the courses that you take over your four years of high school and ensure that you've taken all of the courses that are required by the NCAA in order to be eligible to play at the varsity level in college.

So the other cool thing about the eligibility center is. NCAA rules change all the time. So anything we're talking about today, I would encourage your listeners that if they're listening to this six months down the road or a year down the road, Double-check everything with the NCAA. Don't take what I'm saying as gospel, because it may have changed by the time you're listening to this and, and need to have the information.

But the NCAA eligibility center is incredibly helpful. If you have questions about your eligibility and the steps that you need to go through to ensure your eligibility, when it's time to recruit a college coach will not. Uh, sign a national letter of intent with you unless you have been cleared by the NCAA eligibility center.

So it is a necessary step in the recruiting process. So.


Kriti: [00:17:39] W so I understand, if you, they won't even sign you, but does the center, does it differ greatly from say the school's graduation required then it


Lisa: [00:17:50] depends. It depends on the school. Most schools, if, if you're in high school and you're working with your high school counselor and you let them know that you want to play college sports, they're going to know or.

Research the schedule that you need to be on with your courses to make sure that you meet those eligibility requirements. It's nothing out of the ordinary. It's nothing extra, you know, extravagant, but there are certain base courses that every student athlete has to have taken in high school.


Kriti: [00:18:23] So I want to talk a little bit about actual, like selecting or like kind of choosing the schools that you like and might want to play it potentially.

So how do we go about creating a list of schools and also when do we start to get in touch with coaches and also show the best parts of our game, but also, you know, understand that there's ups and downs as well.


Lisa: [00:18:47] Sure. So first of all, freshman year of high school is when you start your recruiting process. So, unless you are top 10 in the nation, where if you're top 10 in the nation, the coaches are coming after you. Yes. If you are below that level. And, and, you know, if you're 11 to. 50, you may have coaches coming after you too, but pretty much everybody else needs to kind of take the bull by the horns and initiate the process.

So the first step is to have a conversation as a family about. Any limitations on where you can go to college. So whether there are financial limitations, whether there are geographic limitations, where, whether there are certain majors that your family feels it's important to have available to you at your college.

All of those conversations need to take place first, so that everybody's on the same page. There are no surprises down the road then. Once those parameters are in place, you can start creating a list. And I always tell kids to start with a list of 50 schools. And I know it sounds like a lot, but in that list, you've got your reach schools, the schools that you're pretty sure you're going to get in, but it's not for certain.

And then your safety schools, right? So you need to have about a third, a third, a third and. Just make that list and it can be, it needs to be broad because you want to start with a really wide level of, you know, in the funnel. You want it as big as possible at, at the beginning. Once you have that list of schools, you're going to go online and there's no easy way to do this.

You just have to put the work in. You're going to go online. You're going to find out the name of the head coach for the men's or women's team. Get their email address off their school website. Every college tennis team has a website and they all have contact info for the coaches. Then you're going to have somebody record about five minutes of you playing tennis.

Just hitting balls. It doesn't have to be a tournament match, but you want, you don't want to just edit out the points that you win. You want to show. Errors too, because the coaches are interested in seeing how you recover when you hit a bad shot or lose a point. So you want to. A true depiction of your tennis.

You're going to record additional videos over the four years of high school. This, this one video is not going to be it, but it's going to be your starting point. Right? So you're going to record that video. You're going to upload it to Youtube and keep it private or unlisted. And. Then you're going to start emailing coaches.

And your first email to that list of 50 is going to be personalized. You're going to say dear coach so-and-so and you need to be really careful to edit and make sure that you send it to the right name and the right program. You're going to introduce yourself. You're going to let them know your GPA, your. Uh, sat and act scores. If you have those PSA T scores, if you have those, you're going to let them know any ratings and rankings that you have, and you're going to let them know like a three month schedule of upcoming tournaments that you're going to be playing and invite them to come watch you. If they can.

So, that's step one is, well, step one, two and three, I guess, creating your list. Making your video and then emailing the coaches.

You're likely not going to hear back from anybody. Don't be discouraged. They get a ton of emails. They read every email. They watch every video, maybe not the full five minutes, but they're going to watch, you know, a portion of the video and it is. That's your introduction. So now you're on their radar.

Some may email you back and say, you know, we, we don't have any openings your year. Thank you for contacting us. And then you reply and say, thank you very much for your consideration and you check them off your list. Right? That's done. So as you go through high school, you're going to continue to hone down your list of schools based on your level of play your interests. What you want to major in, where you want to be in the country, what kind of weather, what kind of campus, all of those things. And you're going to start to scale back your list and continue to communicate with the coaches at the schools that interest you, and hopefully by , you're going to have the opportunity to visit some of these campuses as unofficial visits. You cannot take official visits today until your senior year. Earlier than that, you're going to go on these unofficial visits. So anytime you play a tennis tournament in a town that has a college campus, you should go visit. Yeah. Go see it. See the tennis facility, walk around the campus, get a feel for what the campus is like. And you know, how you feel on the campus when you're there, because it tells you a lot about what's a good fit and what's not. The other thing that I would suggest is looking up the current team members and trying to connect with some of them on social media. So, good idea. If there are specific schools that are really at the top of your list, get to know the players and because the coaches rely on the players to get them feedback.


Kriti: [00:24:26] Yeah. To see the social, like dynamic and


Lisa: [00:24:29] exactly. And personality, personality. So it's, it's really good to make those connections as early as possible. And I will say that, you know, there are recruiting companies out there they're recruiting consultants, you can hire and all of that, but the skills that you learn going through this recruiting process yourself and owning the process and driving the process yourself as the student athlete are invaluable. So I urge everybody to really take control of their own recruiting process.


Kriti: [00:25:02] Right. I feel like that's kind of very similar to tennis itself. If you want to do anything great in the sport, it's all driven by you. It's hard to have your parents pull you everywhere so, yeah, it's a very like, Individually, you have to find it within you to do everything.

And I've had my moments where I don't want to do it, but it's


Lisa: [00:25:25] fine. The parents are happy to pick up the slack when you need them to. And that's, you know, that's the difference between junior tennis and college tennis, junior tennis, you're living at home and your parents are there to be your backup. When you go to college, you're relying on your teammates, you're relying on your coaches and and your roommates.

So. You know, it's, it's a different ball game and collegiate level.


Kriti: [00:25:49] What are your thoughts on like college camp participation, like you were talking about and also like showcasing events? Do you think those are important or do people kind of get weeded out in those.


Lisa: [00:26:01] situations. They're really important.

I think that, you know, going to camps on college campuses is a great way, again, to form relationships with the coaches, meet some of the current players and start to form relationships with them. Also getting a feel for the campus because a lot of the camps, you stay in the dorms and, you know, eat in the dining halls and all of that.

So it gives you a good sense of. Campus life will be like for you. If you decide to go to that school. The showcases are also great, you know, if you're in your junior year and you're not getting the feedback that you were hoping for from the coaches that you've reached out to, sometimes it's nice to go to these showcases and actually have the coaches be able to watch you in person and. You know, kind of get a sense of what type of player you are really not just based on the five minute videos that you've been sending them or based on reading your results. So, you know, I think they're a great option. They're not for everybody, not everybody needs them, but for the kids that do need that extra. Well, uh, the showcases are a great opportunity for that. Also a lot of the showcases include education, you know, so they'll have sessions where the college coaches will talk about the recruiting process, what they're looking for, you know, what they want you to send them, or, you know, what their openings are in the next couple of years when you're looking to go to that school. So it's, you can get some really valuable information there.


Kriti: [00:27:37] So you were talking about the national letter of intent a few minutes ago. Can you, I see it, I'll always on my Instagram, people like signing. Can you tell us more about this and is it, is it only for DI schools?


Lisa: [00:27:51] Okay. So the national letter of intent is the contract between the school and the player, and it lays out the requirements to get the scholarship and keep the scholarship and lays out the details of what the scholarship will entail.

So that's why you don't see them at D3 because there's no athletic scholarship. One of the things that, that I want to just kind of throw out there because a lot of people will say, oh, I verbally committed here. I've verbally committed. There. A verbal commitment is not a commitment. Verbal commitment is a coach saying to a high school, sophomore or a high school junior. We have a spot for you. We'd like you to come play for us and the player saying, okay, I'd like to do that, but there's no contract because you cannot sign your NLI until your senior year. So for tennis, the first date to sign your NLI is in November. And then there's another signing date in April. Of your senior year.

So anybody that tells you they've committed to a school prior to November of their senior year, they haven't true


Kriti: [00:28:59] commitment. It's


Lisa: [00:29:00] not a true commitment. And,


Kriti: [00:29:02] What, what happened if like they reached ou