The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines character as "the complex of mental and ethical traits, marking and often individualizing a person, group or nation." For many college coaches, the caliber of their recruits' character often determines which ones receive scholarship offers.
According to legendary Brigham Young University football coach LaVell Edwards, "Everyone always talks about the importance of character. [Coaches] want good citizens. They want not only guys who can play, but also guys who aren't going to have problems on and off the field."
The Cougars' head coach for 28 years (and winner of the national championship in 1984), Edwards also serves as chairman of the Sportsmanship Committee of the Awards and Recognition Association [ARA]. The ARA's Sportsmanship Award is bestowed annually on an NCAA Division I football player who exemplifies sportsmanship both on and off the field.
Courtesy of Coach Edwards, below are four character traits that collegiate coaches look for when evaluating prospects during the recruiting process:
Coaches like players who don't become agitated during games. If a player makes an error in judgment—like taunting an opponent, complaining to a referee or hitting someone after a whistle—there will be consequences. If you're a guy like that, chances are you're going to sit. Otherwise, you could hurt your team by incurring a penalty during a tough ball game. No matter how talented you are, it's not worth the risk for coach to keep you on the field.
Coaches like to see how you behave when you don't have the ball. They also watch how you interact with teammates during practice. Being humble means focusing on others, helping teammates progress and improve, rather than trying to be the center of attention.
Coaches don't want to babysit their players. They look for athletes who make good decisions in social situations. If a player always want to go out and party or look for trouble, he is not focused on his studies, or the team, or the school he represents. Recognize that you represent more than yourself, and take responsibility for your actions.
College coaches prefer young people who give back to their communities by helping others. Devoting time to worthy causes or organizations shows that a person cares about something other than his or her own success. Volunteering is an excellent way to demonstrate good citizenship, which, as Coach Edwards affirms, is a quality valued by all coaches.
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