This week’s Sports section contains a story on Quentin Bird signing to play football at Kentucky Wesleyan. Quentin is the sixth Class of 2014 Wildcat to make the jump from the high school gridiron to college ball.
Since I returned to The Cadiz Record in 2009, I’ve written and published several such stories on Wildcats and Lady ‘Cats taking their athletic talents to the next level. One thing I haven’t written about is the number of those student-athletes who don’t continue their athletic careers for very long after that.
It’s a conversation I’ve had with several community members over the years. Why would we make such a big deal about a local kid signing to play sports in college when the numbers show that most of them aren’t likely to stay with the team?
First, when you assume ...
I always try to do my best to take the kid’s side in these discussions because I know the hard work required of a high school student involved in extra-curricular activities of all kinds. Doing so at the college level is even more difficult, and there’s no way for one to know how they will handle that extra stress without jumping right in. And there’s nothing wrong with jumping in, realizing the water is too high and getting out before it’s too late.
Another part of that discussion that is of equal importance is what those kids do after they decide the water is too high, and I was happy to have a number to apply to that question. Wildcat football head coach Coby Lewis, during Bird’s signing, of the 34 recent Wildcat signees who have been out of high school long enough, 75 percent of them have obtained college degrees.
“They may not have stuck with football, but they got a degree,” Lewis said. “Some of those guys would not have done that if not for football getting them on campus.”
That’s a good point for people to take into account. The first year of college is the hardest, and even if it proves too hard for some of these student-athletes to stay in the game, many of them at least keep plugging along in the classroom. And if a partial sports scholarship that only lasts a year is what it takes to get some of them in the door, it’s worth it.
Whether they keep playing or not, be proud of these kids.
Speaking of being proud of kids ...
Every day, Brody finds some new way to amaze me. He’ll be 9 years old next month, which is amazing by itself.
Brody, among a multitude of other things, loves swimming. He’ll spend most of his summer break in our above-ground pool. And if the last few weeks are any indication, he’ll put my swimming ability to shame.
It used to be a challenge to get him in the pool. Now, he’s jumping in, going underwater, flipping, grabbing things off the floor ... Once he learns how to dive, he’ll have be beat for sure.
Justin McGill is the general manager of The Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.