Will play for education: How sports scholarships work

Every sport program here at Bellevue College has a different number of scholarships available to aspiring student athletes.

Athletic scholarships at BC are a set dollar amount that cannot exceed $500 per quarter. Scholarships are given out by coaches who may have scouted out high school players during games or matches, or have contacts that have recommended a player for ability or community work.

All money handed out for scholarships is paid back to the college.  Bill O’Connor, the athletic director, explained that the athletic department pays back the college every quarter to avoid having to pay a huge sum of money at the end of a year.

In 2011, the athletic department gave out a total of $66,000 in scholarship money, an amount that they had to pay back.  This year the cap is raised to $70,000.

While O’Connor is the athletic director, he is not in charge of giving scholarships to players.  Coaches are in charge of giving scholarships; “I am simply the overseer of programs and am in charge of fundraising,” explained O’Connor.

To make up for all the money they owe back to the college, O’Connor and others do fundraising projects at the end of each quarter.

“We host basketball playoffs, we have a Gold Booster Club in which we fundraise for donations for the scholarships we have given to our student athletes and we work with the Bellevue Parks and Recreation Department to host Volleyball events,” said O’Connor.  The athletic department also has a contract with Coke to help with scholarships. These are some of the ways the athletic department generates money to  give back to BC.

Mark Yoshino, assistant athletic director, head baseball coach and full-time instructor of Health and Physical Education said that currently there are zero academic scholarships for student athletes.  All scholarships are based on playing ability and are in no way tied to the academic ability of students.

Simply, this means that players are required to keep their GPA above a 2.00 point to be able to play.  Some coaches may establish a team rule regarding how low a GPA can go before resulting in no playing time, however.

To be eligible for scholarships, the student must have graduated from high school.  Running Start students who are still in high school, no matter the amount, are not eligible for athletic scholarships.

A few coaches are implementing study tables for the team, a strategy that will hopefully boost the players academic performance. Doing this will not only help the team learn strategies for upcoming matches, but will also build team chemistry by helping them all learn together.

The recruitment process is varied in how coaches follow and pick up potential scholarship players.

Certain coaches may favor some methods over others, but these are the general ways coaches find potential student athletes; scouting and evaluation while the player is still in high school, summer leagues, high school sport seasons, college showcase camps and tournaments are a few examples that Yoshino gives.

Each sport program has a set limit for scholarships and are as follows; baseball 11, basketball 8 for men and women, golf 4 for men and women, soccer 11 for men and women, tennis 6 for men and women, volleyball 8 and softball 11.  The amount of baseball scholarships has increased by two over the last two years.

In the past, two previous BC golfers students Richard Lee and KC Chang have gotten scholarships to colleges for their golfing abilities.

KC Chang was one of the more recent scholarship recipients who got his in 2011. His golfing abilities gave him a scholarship to Colorado State University.

Even though scholarships here are not as high as at a university, getting them early will help to get one later.

Lee got a scholarship after attending BC to the University of Washington and is now playing on some of golf’s biggest stages on the Professional Golfers Association tour.

Yoshino gives this bit of advice on how to potentially be picked up for a scholarship.  “Getting info, such as networking, with college coaches as early as your sophomore year in high school is a good step,” Yoshino described.

If you have any questions in regards to scholarships here at BC, the Northwest Athletic Association of Community College’s website has a handbook that has a wealth of information in connection to scholarships. You can also ask Bill O’Connor or any head coach of a team.