Keynote speaker Jack Renkens travels all over the countries to educate high school athletes on the realities of the recruitment process
Burlington Township High School hosted Recruiting Realities Founder and President Jack Renkens on Nov. 29 as part of the district’s Falcon Parent University series. Renkens is recognized as the country’s top athletic motivational keynote speaker and travels around the country to speak to high school athletes and their families about the college recruiting process.
Renkens began his presentation by saying when he scheduled the event at BTHS, he had his staff call every high school within an hour’s drive to see if they would be interested in his program, but BTHS was the only school that booked him. Renkens says this investment clearly shows how much the school administration and superintendent cares about Burlington Township students and their futures.
Renkens graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where he was captain of his basketball team. He earned his master’s degree at the United States Sports Academy. Post-graduation, Renkens taught and coached high school basketball then college basketball at Colby Junior College and Assumption College.
Renkens founded Recruiting Realities when he went through the recruitment process with his own daughter, Brooke — also a basketball player. Despite being a leading scorer and playing on varsity in seventh grade, Brooke did not receive one Division I scholarship offer. When Renkens decided to market Brooke himself, she ultimately was contacted by 350 colleges and universities and wound up with 19 Division I scholarship offers. Brooke attended Manhattan College where she became Rookie of the Year and the seventh leading scorer in the history of the school.
“Less than 3 percent of student athletes in the world will ever be fully funded at a Division I school. My concern is the other 97 percent,” Renkens said.
Renkens’ goal is to give students the most reliable path to success in life, even if that sometimes means a seemingly harsh reality check to athletes and parents.
“This is not a four-year decision, this is a 40-year decision. The impact that that college or university and primarily the coaching staff is going to have on your son or your daughter is going to impact them for the rest of their life,” Renkens said to the parents at the event.
Renkens had three requests for the families in attendance, the first being to remember this decision is about education, not athletics. His second request was the athletes seek out a university where they will actually get to play. His final request was all athletes get funded in some way, whether it be grants, academic money, merit money, a memorial scholarship or something in between.
“Don’t fall for the walk-on pitch,” Renkens said. “If they don’t pay, you don’t play. This is a business.”
Renkens also said parents often have an unrealistic idea of the recruiting process and believe the scholarships will find them without putting in any work.
Once the work is put in, Renkens encouraged families to keep their options and minds wide open.
“You will not get to pick the school. The school will pick you,” Renkens said, adding this can be one of the most difficult aspects of the recruiting process for families.
Renkens said families are almost never in a position to negotiate and encouraged athletes to consider attending schools outside of New Jersey. Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey athletes are the fourth most sought-after athletes in the country, so students are likely to get offers from schools across the country.
“Every college needs a kid from New Jersey,” Renkens said.
Renkens also spoke on the importance of students having good manners during the recruiting process and was very impressed with a student in the audience who responded, “Yes, sir” when Renkens asked him a question.
“Give that coach a firm handshake. You let him know right there — I want to play and you want to coach me,” Renkens said.
Renkens added that students cannot expect coaches to offer them paid scholarships without making an effort to impress and be polite.
“How many of you ever walked into someone’s home and awarded them a quarter of a million dollars? I’ve done it 41 times,” Renkens said, referring to the $64,000 per year cost of attending Assumption College.
Another tip Renkens offered to families was to not visit any schools that are not willing to provide an official paid visit and cover travel, hotel and food costs, even if they’re invited by the coach. Otherwise, families can end up in a situation where they travel across the country to visit a school where the head coach doesn’t even acknowledge their presence at the game.
Renkens also recommended students register with the National Collegiate Athletic Association or the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics eligibility center. Until they do this, athletes remain ineligible and cannot be recruited by colleges and universities.
Renkens was the district’s third Falcon Parent University guest. The district also hosted Virginia Tech shooting survivor Kristina Andersen and cyberbullying expert John Kriger.
Falcon Parent University is a program designed to educate the parents of the district. It is part of a family learning series that has been in place in the district for more than 20 years.
Superintendent Mary Ann Bell spoke very highly of Renkens’ presentation, saying it gave families a valuable opportunity to speak to someone who really understands the college recruiting process.
Renkens’ 2016–2017 Student-Athlete Guidebook details every possible recruiting situation and guides families through the ever-complicated recruiting process. The book is available on Renkens’ website, www.recruitingrealities.com.