Competing in your first year in the US

If you’re heading into the US system and competing and playing straight away is really important to you, then the best option may be the junior college pathway. And again, everyone is different. Everyone has different preferences and may want different things. But if game time or tournament time is really important to you in your first year, then certainly junior college may be the best pathway for you.

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There are more chances of competing straight away at a two-year college or junior college then there is at a larger four-year school. But in saying that, even going to a junior college, you still have to earn everything. That’s the one thing about the US system, that nothing’s just going to be handed to you.

Even at a junior college or two-year schools, if a coach is recruiting you, you may not come in and start competing straight away or play every single game. You still have to come in and earn your competition. You earn your time on the field or on the court, on the track, or in the pool whether it’s a junior college or bigger four-year school or university. The types of athletes that are at junior college are first- and second-year athletes.

Freshmen and sophomores, so 18, 19, maybe some turning 20. But it’s an age appropriate competition for someone that is going over in their first year. You’re competing for playing opportunities against students your same age, students that are in their first and second year. It’s not like a four-year school where you’re competing for playing opportunities with athletes that have been there for three or four years. You’re competing against 22, 23 year olds, some that are in their fifth year. Unless you are incredibly, incredibly special, you don’t just waltz into a bigger four-year college or university and take that senior, that fourth year athlete’s playing time.

They’ve earned it, just in the same way that you have to earn it whether you’re at a four-year school or a junior college. You have to earn everything. If playing and having the opportunity to play in a lot more competitions or to compete more is something that is super, super important to you right from day one, then junior college may be the best fit for you because it’s going to give you the best chance of doing that because of it being only first and second year students that are all competing for those opportunities.

A large number of student athletes are moving on every single year. The coach is recruiting new kids. About half your team is moving on to bigger schools or deciding to maybe leave after one year. So you have a large number of athletes every single year that are departing, which means student athletes are constantly being recruited to come in and compete straight away. Whereas, recruiting at a four-year school, a lot of second, third and fourth-year athletes are going to do the job. Coaches know that they’re going to do the job because they’re proven and recruit with the idea of developing players over a four-year period of time. Not to bring them in, get them involved straight away.
The philosophy around four year recruiting as opposed to two-year recruiting is that four-year recruiting is about development. It’s not about recruiting kids to come in and compete straight away. Of course, coaches are still looking for kids to do that, but that’s not the sole purpose.

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