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STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO

MARBLE FALLS — Earning a college athletic scholarship requires more than talent. Weaving through the collegiate scholarship process can be pretty complicated.

To help student-athletes and their parents better negotiate those steps, the Marble Falls High School athletics department is hosting a seminar on college recruiting for high school athletes at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 2, at Max Copeland Gym on the high school campus, 2101 Mustang Drive.

The free seminar is open to any incoming eighth- through 12th-graders and their families, no matter the sport or school.

Marble Falls High School boys head track-and-field coach Chad Bishop, who also serves as the football team’s defensive coordinator, organized the event. He is following the same format he learned when he coached at Allen High School.

“This provides another resource for parents and students to fulfill their dreams and help them get on the right path,” Bishop said. “We want to help them fulfill what they want to do and the requirements on how to get into college and what to expect.”

At the top of the list is academics, Bishop said. To play sports at the next level, even at NCAA Division II or Division III schools, the minimum four-year grade-point average in high school is 2.2, up from 2.0.

Bishop sees too many upperclassmen under massive pressure to improve their GPAs as juniors when they weren’t as serious as underclassmen. And that’s chilling when families realize students take a third of their core courses required by the NCAA during freshman year.

In addition, the better the overall GPA, the less pressure for a specific score on college entrance exams.

“Upperclassmen play catchup because they’re struggling,” Bishop said. “They’re struggling because of what happened when they were freshmen. We want an immediate focus. That’s why we want to get this information to them early in their high school careers before they step out on the field.”

Families will also learn how what their children post on social media affects their futures. Many college coaches make it a point to pull up an prospective athlete’s social media pages to learn more about that student’s character.

“More college coaches are doing their homework on social media before they make contact with kids,” Bishop said. “So are the kids doing (social media) responsibly?”

The seminar also poses a question to parents: What is the primary focus?

Bishop said parents’ primary focus should be finding a college program that matches their child academically as well as athletically.

“The only thing that’s on the minds (of players) is going to play college sports,” he said. “They don’t have the understanding of what am I going to college for? There are certain colleges that are better fits for you. Each university will have a different culture. They need to do their due diligence of research.”

The final part of the process is parents taking an active role in finding athletic scholarships for their child, Bishop said. That includes contacting college staffs via email, letter, and phone then visiting those campuses and cities.

Bishop compares the athletic scholarship process to finding a job. Candidates apply by filling out applications and sending résumès then research a company to find out as much as they can before they walk in for an interview.

“You put your best foot forward,” he said.

For more information on the recruitment process, go to marblefallsisd.org.

jfierro@thepicayune.com