His talent on the football field had attracted the attention of Division 1 college recruiters, but to gain acceptance to a college, this player needed a qualifying SAT or ACT score. And in his senior year, he had yet to take either test.
“He had a great season last year and a great season this year, and he starts getting calls and starts getting a lot of interest,” said Stacy Taylor, football academic coach for the Red Terrors. “But he still had no scores.”
Today, that student, who Taylor declined to identify, is signed up to play college at a D1 school, and Taylor said he has become the poster child of what can be achieved through Glynn Academy’s new Football Academic program, founded in Spring 2016.
Taylor and other tutors began to work with the student during every free moment between class and football practice, and she said they crammed four years of work into a month and a half.
Many student-athletes squander their potential to play at the college level because they do not adequately plan, Taylor said. So last spring, along with the football team’s head coach Rocky Hidalgo, she implemented a new program at Glynn Academy, one that could not only improve the student-athletes’ grades in the classroom but also prepare them to be college athletes at the country’s top schools.
The Glynn Academy Football Academic program is one of the few of its kind on the high school level in the nation, said Jennifer Anderson, the program’s academic advisor. It is geared strictly toward each student-athlete’s specific needs. Their grades are monitored, and they’re provided with tutoring, standardized testing preparation, academic mentoring and advising through the recruitment process.
“The biggest issue is the perception of, ‘I do well on Friday nights, I do OK in the classroom — I’m going to get recruited,’” Taylor said. “And that is an eighth of what needs to happen.”
She said that for a student to be eligible to get recruited by a college team, the planning and work has to begin before their high school career does.
And at most high schools, that planning is left up to the player and their parents, she said.
The program has already contributed to a staggering level of improvement at Glynn Academy, Anderson said. In the 2014-2015 school year, only five players reported ACT scores. Last year, all 40 players had reported scores. Every senior reported scores.
“The juniors and the seniors this year saw what the seniors went through last year,” Taylor said. “And it wasn’t easy, because a lot of them started the program late or started working on getting into college late.”
But now that the program is a year in, she said they’re able to focus more on the freshmen. And by the time those freshmen are seniors, Taylor said they will have put in the work necessary to play at the college level.
“Acceptance into college is really like a part-time job for a lot of these students,” she said.
Hidalgo said it’s crucial that the students be successful both on and off the field.
“I’m a big believer in having a strong mind and a strong body,” he said. “And I believe we are amiss if we don’t work hard to make sure these kids, we’re improving them physically, spiritually and mentally.”
But he said this sort of program’s success requires the hard work of many.
“We had to find somebody who could make it their Super Bowl,” he said. “Everybody’s got their Super Bowl, and (Taylor’s) is to get our kids graduated and in college.”