LINCOLN, Neb. — Athletes weight train, condition, practice and compete in order to be the best in their sport, but to participate in athletics at the collegiate level they have to apply this same dedication to the classroom from the start in ninth grade through the finish of senior year.
The University of Nebraska High School (UNHS) emphasizes this throughout its Start Strong, Strong Finish online resource of 15 video tutorials that explain in detail the academic eligibility requirements of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Funded by the NCAA Education Innovation Grant, which provided $50,000 to 26 high schools and districts around the country, the tutorials address the four main NCAA academic requirements—graduation, core course completion, GPA and entrance examinations—with interviews from UNHS principal Hugh McDermott, academic advisers Debby Bartz and Ray Henning, and student-athletes.
"We are proud to work with a higher-than-average student-athlete population compared to traditional schools because of the flexibility of our online delivery. With this ongoing experience we are extremely well-versed in NCAA requirements, and we wanted to share that knowledge with as many students as possible since often times this can seem like a daunting process. After viewing our videos, I'm sure many will find that with hard work and focus, it is completely achievable."
Videos also explain the specific differences between Division I and Division II requirements, suggesting that students follow the Division I requirements to ensure they are eligible at all levels. Finally, three videos focus on specifics for international and online students as well as how parents can support their student-athletes.
Accompanying the UNHS representatives are three student-athletes who provide insight and advice regarding the NCAA process. Natasha Novikov, a junior, is a gymnast who spends more than 20 hours a week in the gym. She speaks at length about goal-setting, scheduling and hard work.
"Hard work I think is the number one thing. You have to really work hard and dedicate yourself for these goals—if they are gymnastics-wise or athletic-wise or academic-wise—you're still shooting toward bigger goals, and you have to accomplish it by hard work."To view the tutorials visit at highschool.nebraska.edu. Important resources as well as requirements submission are available through the NCAA Eligibility Center at ncaa.org/eligibilitycenter.