OC Students and Parents Learn NCAA Recruiting Insights From Div. I Coaches and Athletes

Students and parents from across Orange County packed St. Margaret’s McGregor Theater this week to hear NCAA college recruiting guidance from professional experts who have each experienced the heights of collegiate athletics success. Special guest speaker, USC’s Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Head Coach Dave Salo anchored the panel with insights about the recruiting of scholar-athletes at a leading, championship Div. I athletics program.

"The NCAA Recruiting Workshop sponsored by St. Margaret's was one of the best-organized events I have been involved in. The information provided to parents and students was thorough andwill give these families a clear footpath to finding their way to a successful search for a collegiate student-athlete experience. I was flattered to be a part of a very knowledgeable panel of coaches and educators to speak to the topic,” Coach Salo said.

Other featured speakers included Mater Dei High School Athletics Director Tia Meza, Mater Dei NCAA Coordinator and NCAA High School Advisor Mary McElroy, St. Margaret’s Football Head Coach Kory Minor, St. Margaret’s Boys Lacrosse Head Coach Glen Miles and St. Margaret’s Swim and Dive Coach Staciana Winfield. Coach Minor played at the University of Notre Dame and later in the NFL. Coach Winfield competed at University of California, Berkeley and is an Olympic gold medalist for team USA. Coach Meza was Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year in 2000 and played at University of Washington, and Coach Miles is a National Lacrosse National Hall of Famer and played for the United States Naval Academy.

The panel covered a range of topics, including the difference between NCAA divisions, what is expected of athletes, prioritizing academics, thebenefits of playing in high school versus club, how to stand out to collegiate coaches, and the increasing importance of mental and physical health and wellness for collegiate athletes. 

St. Margaret’s Athletics Director and Cross Country and Track and Field Head Coach Patrick Bendzick, who was a Div. I track and field athlete at California State University, Long Beach, moderated the discussion and offered top takeaways from the workshop. 
  1. “There are many opportunities to fulfill your dream of being a collegiate athlete, yet you can’t passively wait for them to materialize. Gain exposure by creating relationships with coaches at schools you are interested in, effectively marketing your abilities and targeting the right schools.”
  2. “Your athletic ability is always secondary to your academic standing. It does not matter how far you can throw a ball if you are not academically qualified for your schools of interest. Make it easy for a college coach to say ‘yes’ by putting yourself in a strong academic position. Maximize your G.P.A. and be prepared to take the ACT/SAT several times.”
  3. “Surround yourself with people who will encourage and support your goals, and help you achieve greatness. You will need academic support in the form of a college counselor, coaching support to help you grow and succeed, and family support to help you navigate a complex process. A collective effort always produces better results.”
The workshop, presented by St. Margaret’s and Mater Dei High School, was open to the public to provide motivated scholar-athletes and their families helpful guidance on the competitive and complex process of becoming a collegiate athlete. This was St. Margaret’s fourth NCAA Recruiting Workshop for students and parents, held annually in the fall. For more information about athletics, please contact St. Margaret’s Athletics and Coach Bendzick at athletics@smes.org.
An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
31641 La Novia Avenue
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675