Are you a blue chip or white chip athlete? Does the school of your dreams survive the “broken leg test?” All this and more was discussed by a panel of past and present Berkeley High School athletes competing in collegiate level athletics. Athletes fielded questions and shared their athletic experiences to a crowd of over fifty parents, students, and athletes in the BHS Library on Thursday, January 5. The panel consisted of nine athletes and one athlete’s father, ranging from sophomores in high school to juniors in college. It included athletes playing Division I, II, and III athletics in many sports.
The event was sponsored by the Berkeley High Athletic Fund — a volunteer based organization — following the event’s success last year. It was led by Jennifer Thomas, a college counselor at Maybeck High School with extensive experience playing and coaching at the college level. Each athlete introduced themselves and explained their individual paths to collegiate sports. Thomas explained how she likes to classify athletes using a poker analogy. She describes how athletes are either “blue chips” or “white chips.” For blue chip athletes, “[Colleges] all come to you; they’re dying to get you on their team,” said Thomas. White chip athletes, on the other hand, “have to be their own agent,” said Thomas, and generally need to work much harder. “They need to take control of the recruiting process and market themselves,” she continued. All kinds of athletes were represented at the panel.
The panel additionally gave advice on self promotion. Thomas said that “There’s a difference between bragging and getting the real deal out to coaches.” Self-promotion involves compiling a highlight reel, attending ID camps, and emailing coaches.
Brad Wiblin, the parent on the committee, also added, “Take care of business in the classroom, [and] you will have more options.” Division I and II athletes are able to receive athletic scholarships.
Sports can allow students to get into places that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to solely based on their academic performance. Although Division III athletes do not receive athletic scholarships, coaches can “flag” their applications, which nearly guarantees their admission. While Division III athletes are “student athletes” whose priority is academics, Division I athletes put their sports first. In reference to Division I athletes Thomas said that “Coaches own you … you have to know going into it that [sports] will consume all of your time.” Wiblin also added that “If you don’t have an unnatural desire for your sport, it’s going to be an unpleasant four years.” At the end of the event, the athletes agreed that the “broken leg test” should be considered when applying to schools. This means that other factors should be taken into consideration besides athletics. In the event of a broken leg or an equally devastating injury that could potentially end one’s athletic career, the school that you choose should interest you in other ways.
While very few high school athletes will end up playing their sport at the varsity level in college, following the advice from Thursday’s panel could help your chance at competing at the collegiate level.