By Reem Hamaida ’19 and Nefretari Powell ’19
As the year comes to an end, some of Midwood’s highest performing student athletes have been given the opportunity to attend a Division One (D1) school.
A D1 school provides scholarships for at least 14 different sports in return for a student’s athletic commitment. After selecting the best performing athletes, the college then trains them at a higher level, providing them with the credentials to go professional.
According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, there are three divisions in which athletes are categorized in, D1 being the highest. It is the most competitive division as these schools have the largest budgets with the largest amount of students. This leaves room for only the best athletes to be admitted.
As far as D1 football, there is a subcategory of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) or 1A and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) or 1AA. The difference is that FBS is the top level for a college football player to participate in with schools being able to provide 85 scholarships a year while FCS is under FBS with 63 scholarships to offer. Because FCS schools have fewer scholarships to give, not every athlete is given a full scholarship.
These schools recognize and choose the most outstanding players through scouts. They work for professional sports agencies and attend games to spot any striking contenders on a specific team. If someone stands out, they look at their statistics to see if they are as great and consistent in their previous games.
In addition to athletic performance, students must show academic excellence in order to receive the best offer because scouts look at grades also, Mr. Anthony Odita, the coach of the football team, stressed.
“Getting a scout’s attention is extremely hard, let alone getting an offer,” assistant coach, Mr. Jonathan Skelly explained.
Because this is true with only a two percent chance of students getting an athletic scholarship, another way to be acknowledged is through highlights. These are videos that are sent to scouts in order to showcase a student’s best moments on the field. They can either be created by the players or the coaches and sent to the colleges that they want to be noticed by. Coaches encourage the athletes to make a Twitter account so that students can post their highlights and tag the schools or send them direct messages. This further grabs the scout’s attention and increases the player’s chance of getting an offer.
Capturing the eyes of these D1 schools were Matthew Thomas ’18, Joseph Halasy ’18, Dontae McGriff ’19 and Tyler Bartholomew ’19, who all received full scholarships.
Thomas ‘18 was the only Hornet to receive an FBS offer, committing to Rutgers University.
“Rutgers is not only an athlete’s dream school,” he said. “It also has a really strong business program that I want to pursue. It’s really expensive so going D1 and not have to pay for college was truly a blessing.”
Joseph Halasy ’18 also got a D1 offer, but in the FCS category, from University of Albany. He expressed his gratitude, explaining how this opportunity is a stepping stone into going pro.
Mr. Odita was extremely pleased with the success of the boys.
“New York is a basketball city,” he said. “Yet, both Matt and Joe gave football a try for the first time freshman year and now they both have full scholarships.”
Both McGriff ’19 and Bartholomew ’19 received an FCS offer from Sacred Heart University.
McGriff ’19 said, “Receiving a D1 offer is not only an honor. It is a privilege because I come from a place where people don’t get out so to be given a chance is very special to me.”
Bartholomew ’19 described how this opportunity was something he’d hoping for even as a child.”
He said, “It’s been a dream of mine since day one. From my first time playing football at eight years old, I’ve never lost sight of chasing and achieving that dream. I’m so happy that my parents don’t have to pay a single penny for my education due to the fact that I’ve worked so hard my whole life for this very time and moment.”
Because going D1 is so rare, it is considered a major accomplishment. Both the friends and teammates of the athletes were very excited.
Kimonique Parsard ’19 said, “Tyler works hard day in and day out. His whole life is football and you certainly see that everytime he steps foot on that field. There’s no stopping him.”
Autum Adams-Edwards ’18 expressed similar feelings toward McGriff ‘19.
She said, “Dontae is like a brother to me so for him to specifically be recognized by such a great school shows how talented he is.”
Elyh Fennell ’19 said, “They sleep, eat, and breathe football, and they deserve to have an offer from a D1 college. Seeing them work hard and seeing it pay off makes me happy.”
Although Bartholomew ’19 and McGriff ’19 have received offers, they are just starting their journey. Both students are strong candidates for future offers which will make it difficult in the decision of signing to one school and declining the others.
There is also the risk of a school taking back their offer either for an academic decline, a decrease in athletic performance or even an injury. No offer is certain until signing day which takes place after the student’s senior season is over where the student signs a commitment letter to the college or university they will be attending.
Going D1 is the first step toward the National Football League (NFL) and those who’ve received these offers have proven that they are ready.