"It's important to me because of the impact that my mom and my coaches had on me in getting this opportunity," said Jenkins, who lives in Menlo Park. He now works for NCSA, helping kids navigate the often-confusing road to a college sports scholarship. He says that he and his mother sent out more than 95 VHS tapes from the summer of his sophomore year in high school until graduation.
"We got turned down a lot," Jenkins continued. "Coaches said they weren't interested, but we kept moving forward. We kind of just trudged on through the process. It was hard."
Jenkins and his mother went to five different states to meet personally with coaches in an attempt to prove that he was "their guy" and convince them he was worthy of a scholarship.
According to Jenkins, it is still just as important for high school athletes with an eye toward a scholarship to be their own most vigilant advocate. College coaches and their scouts have very little time for boots-on-the-ground recruiting. He estimates that only about 1 percent of high school sports events are ever visited by a college athletic recruiter. Fortunately, he said, technology has brought down the cost for high school athletes to aggressively promote themselves.
No more mailing out heavy VHS tapes, he said. In fact, there is no need to send anything through the post office. Highlight reels can be uploaded to online video streaming sites, such as YouTube, academic records can be emailed and coaches can be referred to an athlete's high school sports record sheet online.
Furthermore, Jenkins said, while all of this can be done independently, he will be plugging the NCSA's website at the Nov. 15 workshop.
It's a bit like LinkedIn, except for aspiring college athletes, Jenkins said of the NCSA site. "It is their resume for college recruiting," Jenkins said of how student athletes ought to use the site. "Coaches can come to our site for free, look at kids and evaluate them."
At the workshop, Jenkins said he will advise parents on how to get a neutral third party to evaluate their child's ability, so that they may in turn help the student choose a group of realistic schools to apply to; he will also explain how to put together a video that will highlight an athlete's skills in an efficient manner (it is important, for example, to use video that focuses directly on the athlete the video has been produced for, so that coaches don't become distracted with the performances of others on the field); and he will encourage the athletes to think of college as more than just an opportunity to play sports or a possible ticket to the pros — "It's not a four-year decision," he said. "It's a 40-year decision."
Jenkins wanted to play professionally, but he worked hard to get his college experience at Stanford, so that he would also receive a world-class education.
Although Jenkins is the workshop's speaker and the event was organized in part by the Spartan's football coach, Toure Carter, it is open to all athletes. Jenkins said that all high school students who hope to earn a sports scholarship stand to learn something from his experiences and ought to consider using the NCSA website to promote themselves.
It is not free to use, he said, but the site does have a sliding scale depending on what services a family decides it wishes to use, and parents can find out more about what is right for their child at the event.
The workshop will be held in the Mountain View High School cafeteria on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 6:30 p.m.
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