Families learn about collegiate shooting from program coaches
Port Clinton, Ohio - During the NRA Smallbore and Prone National Championships, two college nights were hosted for the youth. The Smallbore and Prone phases of the National Matches consist of the highest percentage of junior shooters, making it the perfect time for the youth to learn about shooting competitively in college. Over 200 people attended the college nights and most of those attendees were junior shooters.
Victoria Croft, National Manager of the NRA Competitive Shooting Division's Collegiate & Schools Program, started the College Nights with a brief powerpoint presentation. The presentation answered the most commonly asked questions regarding collegiate shooting. Once the presentation was finished, Croft introduced the coaches/representatives in attendance and opened the floor for any questions to the coaches the audience had.
Eleven well-known coaches and/or representatives were present at the first college night during the Smallbore phase. All coaches/representatives answered questions about NRA Collegiate Shooting Sports Directory, Collegiate Championships, Qualification processes for the various championships, NCAA Clearinghouse, NCAA Eligibility, College visits, and what they expect for shooters resumes. Although the coaches were not allowed to discuss scores due to rules and regulations, all the information given to the audience was extremely important and useful.
Coaches and representatives traveled near and far to attend college night. The coaches/representatives who attended the 2012 Smallbore phase college night were: Newt Engle of Akron University, Ryan Tanoue of The Ohio State University, Bill Kelly of United States Naval Academy, Bob Beard of the UT Martin, Valerie Boothe of Ole Miss, Mike Anti of the United States Air Force Academy, Ron Rigger and Rick Johnson of the United States Marine Academy, Paul Benneche of University of Virginia, Bill Wolf the President of the Mid Atlantic Rifle Conference (MAC), and a representative from the University of North Georgia.
Once all the audience questions were answered and the college night was officially over, the competitors were welcomed to stay after and converse with the coaches/representatives. Hundreds of young shooters rushed off to various coaches to personally introduce themselves and to discuss in further detail what shooting at college would entail. Coaches and competitors also had the opportunity to set up times for individual meetings where they would have more time to discuss the colleges and what their collegiate shooting programs are like.
Mike Anti, Assistant Coach of the USAFA, attended college night for his third year. Anti commented on the large numbers of attendees at the college nights this year and Anti believes this number increases each year due to families hearing about the benefits of attending this special night. Anti recommends college night to all junior shooters saying, "Even if you don't at this point have plans on going to college, if you are a freshman or I don't care what age you are, if you have any plan that you want to go to school, then you need to be here tonight." Although most of the junior shooters who attend college nights are high school students, Anti believes even younger shooters would benefit from attending because they would begin to have a better understanding of the potentials of their sport.
Although Anti could not discuss specifically what the USAFA looks for in junior shooters, he did reveal: "Generally we are looking for a good student, who makes decent grades...good class rank, competitive SAT/ACT scores...the better you shoot the more scholarship money you may receive from your school. So you have to be able to do both." The USAFA has a current team of nine shooters because of the academy's current ten-point range. However, the USAFA range is increasing to sixteen-points this coming year, providing the opportunity for new USAFA collegiate shooters due to the opportunity to increase team size.
Along with Assistant Coach Mike Anti, the DiPaola Family of Virginia has been attending college night for three years. The DiPaola's attended college night for the first time in 2010 because of their son Jordan, pictured above. Jordan, a current high school senior, had always been interested in collegiate shooting. However, in 2010, Jordan and his parents did not know much about shooting competitively in college, thus leading them to attend college night.
The first year the DiPaola family attended college night was described by them as "very eye-opening." Mrs. DiPaola revealed: "We were finally able to put faces with names of the coaches and were able to hear them speak and we got a feeling for their personalities by the way they answered questions. That has been very helpful because then when you [are at the NRA's National Matches and] see them walking along the line you say, 'Oh that's a coach at West Point or the coach at Navy.' It makes it more personal for us." Although Jordan had been emailing and speaking to coaches on the phone, his family and him were finally able to meet the coaches face-to-face.
Jordan and his family had a complete different idea before attending college night of how to go about applying to shoot for a collegiate team. "The whole drive home, like all eight hours, Dad was like, 'What about this and this and this?' It was...Wow," laughed Jordan.
"Everytime we are here at Camp Perry, we tell other shooters, 'Go to College Night! Go!'" Jordan said. Jordan's father believes college night should be attended by all junior shooters and their families because: "you learn things like NCAA rules, like when you can talk to the coaches. Like for instance here [at college night] you can say hi, but that's all you can say because it's a competition...You also learn important dates and about prize money. A lot of folks don't know that stuff so we've been recommending it every year."
Although the DiPaola family has attended college night three times, they come back each year to refresh their memory and to have the opportunity to ask any new questions to coaches. Also, because Jordan has attended previously, he believes attending each year shows coaches his initiative, drive and focus of shooting competitively for a collegiate team. Attending College Night this year was also very important to the DiPaola family because of Jordan's thirteen year-old sister, Taylor, who shot at Camp Perry for the second time this year.
Entering his senior year of high school, Jordan DiPaola is interested in competively shooting for the military academies. Jordan has visited the Naval, Air Force and Coast Guard Academy's so far. At this time, Jordan is leaning towards the United States Naval Academy and is hoping to shoot on their team. We wish the DiPaola family all the best and we hope to see Jordan and his sister Taylor one day at NCAA Championships.