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Ayer Shirley athletes get a lesson in college selection

Former Natick High School football head coach Tom Lamb of College Planning Strategies addresses student-athletes and their parents at Ayer Shirley Regional High School on June 19.

AYER — So your student-athlete wants to play at the collegiate level? But the question is what level do they fit it? Every parent wants their child to have the best college experience with the least amount of debt.

But the reality is that the NCAA offers full scholarships (tuition, room, board) to just 2 percent of athletes.

Former Natick High School head coach Tom Lamb, who now works with College Planning Strategies, paid the Ayer Shirley Regional High School Auditorium a visit Monday night. Lamb cautioned parents and student-athletes to be careful of non-sport specific combines that say you have to attend the camp to be a Division 1 athlete.

“Ninety-eight percent of you won’t get that full scholarship,” Lamb said. “We are all hoping that college coach will pull up in front of our house in that large rental car with that big silver briefcase and plops down that full scholarship offer on the kitchen table. It’s not going to happen to most of us.”

Coach Lamb knows a thing or two about college coaches and the recruiting process. His daughter-in-law, Ainslee Lamb was the head field hockey coach at Boston College and son, Joel, is currently an assistant coach for the Harvard football team.

Most notably, Lamb coached former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie.

Lamb was brought to Ayer Shirley through his friendship with third-year Ayer Shirley football coach Phil Marchegiani and ASRHS’s Friends of Football club.

“Tom ran a great program at Natick High School,” Marchegiani said. “As a matter of fact, a good number of my assistant coaches played for Tom. We’re having a greater number of juniors and seniors on the team. There is a greater level of awareness and need of communication that you can get out there. Sometimes having a fresh face with his level of experience — I really felt that it was an opportunity to give the parents and the student-athletes what they need.”

Lamb instructed student-athletes that they need to get their foot in the door at the college they’re interested in as early as possible. Sometimes even in their freshman and sophomore years via sport-specific camps, which are attended and run by collegiate coaching staffs.

Lamb instructed athletes to talk to their club and high school coaches to see what level of college do they have the best chance to compete at: Division 1, 2 or 3. When putting together a recruiting package, coach Lamb said to pick some reach schools, schools that you can get in and like you athletically and pick a couple of fallback schools.

Coach Lamb said that student-athletes need to be proactive the college selection process by doing their research and filling out recruiting forms via the college’s website.

“We need to market ourselves honestly,” said Lamb.

“My son was Globe All-Scholastic and wanted to play quarterback at Michigan, so we went to camp out there.

” I would recommend that. If you have a school you really love, go to camp there because they get to know you. We went out there (Michigan) and they thought he (Joel Lamb) was good, but they ended up taking some guy named Tom Brady instead. He turned out pretty good at Michigan. I guess they made the right decision — they were in the same class.”

Coaches are professional evaluators of talent.

Some coaches, according to Lamb, look beyond the scope of the highlight film and gauge the interaction of a recruit with his family and opponents after a loss.

Like the first few sentences of a newspaper article, the first highlight clip needs to draw the recruiting coach in and make them want to watch the remainder of your film.

Lamb referenced his son, who at Harvard brings home between 10 and 15 highlight films per night, every night to choose two quarterbacks from a recruit pool of 387.

According to Lamb, one of the most important things athletes can do to market themselves is to compile a highlight package of no more than 10 minutes long.

Most importantly, the students need to have the grade point average to get into the selected school and perform well on the SAT/ACT exams.

The highlight film is not the only piece of media coaches look at. Coaches look at social media activity and if an athlete depicts himself or herself participating in illegal activity, such as underage drinking, they can revoke a scholarship just like that.

For more information on the college recruiting process, visit College Planning Solutions’ website:

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