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Wayne Mazzoni Speaks to MHS Student-Athletes for Seventh Consecutive Year

College recruiting is the land of pipe dreams and inflated expectations. Without a plan, hope turns into disappointment very quickly for most student-athletes. To avoid this pitfall, the Mineola Athletic Booster Club in concert with Mineola athletic director Ralph Amitrano invited recruiting expert Wayne Mazzoni to address prospective intercollegiate student-athletes for the seventh year in a row. The valuable session concentrated its message on how these talented individuals can market themselves to college coaches and the significant impact academics and financial aid play in the recruiting process.

Early in his November 1 presentation, Mazzoni stressed the importance for kids to take the initiative. "Not many Mineola athletes are being recruited by the likes of Coach K, Billy Donovan or Charlie Weis," he intoned. Statistics show only 8 percent of all athletes are actually recruited and only 25 percent on a college roster play a full four years. Recognizing that the ultimate goal is a college diploma and not an NCAA Championship is an important first step in the process. Wayne's background as a Northport High School two-sport athlete and current Sacred Heart University baseball coach were particularly effective in driving home these principles.

Coach Mazzoni gave both young and old a variety of tips. The priority is to identify college campuses suiting personality and comfort level (for example; size, geography, talent pool and course of study). He notes the daunting task in winnowing 3,500 American colleges and universities to the 30 or so that will fit each student. Additionally, being cognizant of the rules of engagement and qualifications for the NCAA Clearinghouse are hurdles that, if not met, doom any potential athlete to the wrong school. Mazzoni was nearly preaching when he announced, "This is it, boys and girls, get in gear. Get your grades in order early and don't coast as a senior!" Placing the impetus on a coach with a fleeting interest in your skills will not lead to a positive outcome regardless of any latitude the coach may have with the Admissions department. With athletic scholarships at a premium, good grades lead to academic aid, which most coaches pleasantly embrace. Academics can provide a coveted spot that other fringe players may not be able to earn.

The key theme of the evening reinforced an aggressive self-marketing strategy that will live beyond playing days into the corporate board room. Preparing multi-media resources timely and effectively is imperative. Budget wisely on camps and tournaments that coaches will be attending. Mazzoni stressed elements such as video, live game appearances, mock interviews and references should not be taken cavalierly. Know in advance what is expected and be professional. "Most athletes never get the look," Mazzoni pointed out. Finally, conduct research. Observe a training session or game, speak to current players, visit the facilities and monitor the style of play to see if the combination suits your game. The student-athlete's gut reaction will determine any tie-breakers.

The question and answer session was lively and provocative. A major topic in today's athletic society, the subject of one-sport specialization, was raised. Mazzoni is strongly against the concept. At the high school level, social and physical advantages extend to those who play in a multi-sport environment. Local travel programs which depend on the financial windfall do not think like college coaches. He encouraged all student-athletes to diversify their interests if the desire exists.

Mazzoni was struck by the attendance of Mineola's Guidance staff. It is a group he seldom sees in his 300 presentations a year. Likewise, Amitrano was impressed with the audience of over 60 weeknight attendees including a minimum of 20 present or former Mustang student-athletes from the soccer, basketball, lacrosse, baseball, football, volleyball and cross country programs. It was fairly certain Mazzoni's comments would have an effect on the decisions of these talented young men and women.


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