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Entries in matt fecht makes his own luck (13)

College Athlete Admission Standards

Every few years I have an eye-opening coaching experience. The first was The Meeting, the second was Carl Paoli's seminar, the third was the trip to San Francisco CrossFit, the fourth was coaching at the Day Care, the fiiiifff was the presenting with Coach T at the Michigan State Clinic, and the most recent one has come over the course of the past 6 months while doing private basketball coaching.

Since June I have been charging 60 bucks per hour to do basketball stuff with kids ranging from 7-16 years old. It is awesome; I am obsessed with game of basketball, I am obsessed with coaching, I get to recruit kids to do CrossFit here, and every cent that comes to me gets direct deposited into the Champions Club bank account. What is has also done for me is helped me realize that parents will pay SIXTY FREAKING DOLLARS FOR 50 MINUTES of sports training. And I am about to raise my prices in the spring. It is baffling. In fact, I've told more than 75% of the parents that I think they really should reconsider spending all that money on basketball training for numerous reasons, the least of which being that their son does not seem to like basketball (“but let me tell you about this thing called CrossFit” is what usually happens next). Surprisingly I get mostly positive reactions to this, and hopefully once basketball season is done I’ll be able to add a few New Kids to our regular ranks. The Babies session has already benefited from it.

What this and a few recent discussions with Champions Club parents tells me is that there is no ill-will behind anything – such as parents trying to live through their kids, or kids being arrogant. Instead, they simply don’t know what it takes to make the next level. They see their competition in the Greg Grant league or their middle school with a graduating class of 15 and they can’t help but think that private lessons are the way to a college scholarship.

Coincidentally this was a message to me as I was editing this editorial

All but 2 of the kids I have coached said they want to play at a D1 college, then play in the NBA. This is something I empathize with completely. As a 28-year old who currently has a public goal to be the best CrossFit affiliate in the world, you can probably imagine this was totally me at their age and older. I wanted to be an under-the-radar recruit who, after watching Rashad Phillips play (anyone know who he was?), chose U of D Mercy over Michigan, Purdue, and Illinois, then went on to an NBA career with 11 All-Star appearances and 7 championships. That is not a joke, and that lasted all the way until 8th grade when I saw Yancey Gates, and I found out that good 8th graders are 6’4, black, and dunking on fools. I was not any of these, so I started to work harder. Up until February 23, 2012 (The Meeting) I still had the idea that I could play professional basketball in some league, despite my college career being less than remarkable. And so when Andrew, who just got cut from a last-place 7th grade team, tells me he wants to play for OKC, I am not just being nice when I tell him that it’s possible. I’ve seen weirder things happen. I just think there needs to be some guidelines in place.

My two athletic claims to fame are: 1) being a benchwarmer on the best AAU program in Michigan, with Draymond Green as our team’s second-best player and  2) getting a preferred walk-on offer over the phone from Oakland University the summer going into my senior year. Despite the fact that I never made it to where I wanted to with basketball, I really, really think I had a mindset and work ethic that would reflect someone that played at that level, and coaches have confirmed this to me along my career. But I only refined this dedication because I was fortunate enough to be on the court with people who were already professionals or clearly future-pros. I saw where I was relative to them and I tried as hard as I could to make up the gap.

None of the kids I have coached through private basketball lessons have seen that, and their parents only see what their kids see. Most of the Champions Club athletes still in high school and middle school haven’t had that exposure either. So I figured having a formal checklist could help families see reality and decide how much they want to commit to their sport (shouts to Matt Fecht, Alyssa, and Sap for helping). The idea for this is simple: you must accumulate the allotted point requirement for your desired level (10 points for D1/D2, and 5 points for NAIA/D3). The factors are split into two categories: controlled and non-controlled. The non-controlled factors have a lot more to do with genetics and family conditions, and there is little any athlete can do to adjust those in a meaningful way. The controlled factors are the opposite; they are conscious daily, weekly, monthly, and lifetime decisions made by the athlete that slowly tip the scale in the direction they want to go. Here is the breakdown:

Division-1 College Athlete (10 total points needed)

*Give up your sport for 6 months, or keep your sport and give up everything else “fun” for 6 months?

Division-2 College Athlete (10 total points needed)

*Same as above except for 2 months

Division-3/NAIA College Athlete (5 total points needed)

*If you sat the bench for your first month of the season, would you quit or stick with it?

While the metrics in here are not exact, the overall theme is important, and pretty accurate. The way to get your point total is slightly different for D1 and D2, and radically different when looking at D3. You can read the graphs from the top-down or bottom-up, depending on where an athlete and parent want to be. But here’s a few notes:

Being a college athlete is not hard to do. There are a ton of small schools out there that will take anyone. And I mean ANYONE.  Our 2012 Marygrove roster (which included your favorite new hip hop artist, Mike Jack) had 3 kids that had never made a high school basketball team. And we were middle-of-the-pack record-wise and in the upper 5% talent-wise for all NAIA schools. If you want to play at a small college, first check to make sure your heart is beating and then start sending emails and highlight tapes. It doesn’t take much. And it certainly doesn’t require lots of money pumped into kids travel teams. Save that for Albion, Hope, and Olivet’s tuition. It’s gonna be around 40 grand!

Recruit yourself. Alyssa Jabara is the best example I have heard of this. She played for a good travel softball team in high school but was not getting the college attention she wanted. So she took it upon herself and emailed coaches every weekend starting her junior year. She is at Concordia now (in the NAIA league with Marygrove, Madonna, Aquinas, etc.) and a lot of that has to do with the initiative she took. The extra controlled factors she put in that more closely resembled D2 is the difference between her just being on the team and her beating out 2 upper-class catchers as a freshman last year.

1-month quit test. Small school sports suck. There were bigger crowds at high school games. You get crammed van rides for hours and hours. Practices are at 6 am. In other words, you put in a ton of work and get very little publicity – especially if you are 1) a girl or 2) playing anything besides football and basketball. And on top of that, scholarships are treated differently at this level, so don’t be surprised if you came in with a handful of other freshman at the same position. There were 7 freshman quarterbacks on the football roster during my only semester at Albion. And the coach still asked me to try out. The more kids they bring in, the more enrollment goes up. Bottom line is, you have to love the game unconditionally.

Well maybe I’ll just go D2 instead. The Division-2 level is the most misunderstood tier of college sports in my opinion. These dudes (or girls) can play, man. Everyone thinks they are pros here, and to their credit, some of them are right. You’ll notice that there is a big jump from NAIA/DIII to the D2 level, and D2 is not that much different than the D1 requirements. The areas I have noticed the biggest difference in the D1 and D2 athletes are the non-controlled areas, which are just a tad lower than the D1 group. But where this can get tricky is with transferring. Take Glenn Winston, who had the makeup for D1 but didn’t get the playing time he wanted at MSU, so he transferred to Northwood and immediately played in front of Cam – who, by the way, had all the measurables and connections to make a really good D2 running back. Division-2 is loaded with talent, and it’s often people who shoot for D1 and miss that are standouts, not D3 kids looking to move up.

Non-controlled factors. Now we get into the Division-1 category, and this is where there are pretty solid factors that are not completely mandatory, but very hard to bypass. Measurables are simply the raw mass of your body. For instance, if you are 7’0, or over 6’6 with arms longer than your height, you have the right measurables for a D1 basketball player. If you are over 300 lbs., you can be a D1 offensive lineman. The specifics are different with every sport, the idea is the same. “Elite” skill means that your skill in that area is at a professional level. I knew Alex Marcotullio growing up at St. Dennis (he is good friends with my cousin Josh) and he played for The Family the year after I got there. By everyone’s account I was better at dribbling, driving, mid-range shooting, passing, defense, rebounding, and I was stronger and better conditioning than he was. But his 3-point shooting was – no joke – NBA worthy. Combine that with the measurables for his position (Jay Junkin’s height) and he played 4 years at Northwestern. Connections are the next thing, because with all that skill and genetics, a lot of it depends on who you know. All it takes is for one coach to like you.

Social Norms. Now we are into controlled factors, and this one comes directly from Matt Fecht. This means when the normal thing to do is party after you won a game, you skip it and sneak back into the gym to practice more. Or when it is snowing outside, you still get your training run in, regardless of the awkward looks you get. Your “process” takes precedence over what is considered normal by peers.

Scheduled down-time. For most elites in their field, down-time does not happen when they feel like it. It is built into their schedule. This includes family events, television, video games, cheat meals, and parties. Time away is a very important part of staying healthy. As Kobe Bryant said, “If the sun never went down, everyone would get sun-burned.” But even the sun does it on a schedule. So set a cheat meal to coincide with your grandma’s 90th birthday party, or plan on some father-son bonding whenever Michigan is playing on Saturday, and use that as an incentive/reward for staying on track during the time leading up. My personal productivity, both as an athlete and gym owner, really coincides with this.

No job. Your sport is your job. End of discussion.

S&C + Individual practice. One of the things I tell families is that if their son wants to play Division 1 basketball, they should not be relying on paying a trainer to improve their game. If the kid doesn’t have the passion to spend 2 hours per day practicing by himself, then no trainer is going to fill that void. On the other hand, having some kind of direction is good, but only to guide your individual efforts. Strength and conditioning is a different area of expertise, so having a coach is a little more beneficial, but a determined athlete can definitely get away with working out alone. Still, this is mandatory.

AAU. Okay here’s the deal: If your travel team is legit, they are sponsored by an apparel company. If you are not paying team dues, or travel expenses, or equipment fees, then you are probably sponsored (unless there’s a very rich parent). Also, apparel companies don’t sponsor youth programs, only high school. So just know that having Nike gear and having a Nike contract are two separate things. If you are not part of a sponsored team and you are a legit prospect, then you are either not paying the full amount, or not paying anything at all. Your payment is your coach getting to say he “coached” you. If you think you are a legit prospect and you can’t pull the juice card, then you are not a legit prospect.

School. You can go to school at any point in your life. On the other hand, you have about an 8-year window where you can make money on your athletic abilities. If 8 hours of homework per week is eating into sports training, then cut out some homework. You don’t need a 4.54 GPA, a 3.0 will work just fine. If you can’t get a 3.0, then just start turning in your freaking homework. That’s like a 2.8 right there! Then be nice to that smart kid who idolizes to you and it’s all set.

Food and bed. Nutrition is like religion, and sleeping remains to be one of the most unfigured-out things in the world of health and fitness. I have opinions about what are best practices. Your coach has opinions. Your grandpa has opinions. As long as you are making conscious daily decisions for both, then you get two checks.

November 2014 - right around the time Alyssa started recruiting herself and Matt was... well... still being Matt.

Now, the important thing to understand is that the more stock you have in one column, the less you need in the other. For instance, if you are 7’0 with an 90-inch wing span, then you can spend all the time immersed in your homework as you want; somebody is going to give you a free tuition to win points in the lay-up line. On the other hand, if you have every single category covered in the Controlled column, you might be able to get away with not being tall, fast, or big.

The idea is to have this reality check when setting goals. So if Andrew-who-got-cut-from-his-7th-grade-team still has dreams to play for John Beilein, he can look at the list and be like, “yep, I can see myself putting in that kind of commitment,” or “ooh… yeah that doesn’t look like something I’d be willing to do.” Either way, the information is right there and the decision to start pumping money and time and energy into that sport becomes clear. Or, at least a more educated guess. It’s the difference between asking someone what they want for Christmas and hoping they will use a $50 Whole Foods gift card.

...........

For this 2017-2018 season there are 7 D1 basketball schools in Michigan, which have a total of 114 roster spots:

  • Central Michigan: 18
  • Eastern Michigan: 16
  • Western Michigan: 14
  • Oakland: 16
  • Detroit Mercy: 17
  • Michigan: 17
  • Michigan State: 16

There are 9 D2 basketball schools in Michigan, which have a total of 138 roster spots:

  • Lake Superior State: 14
  • Northern Michigan: 17
  • Ferris State: 17
  • Wayne State: 13
  • Michigan Tech.: 15
  • Davenport: 17
  • Grand Valley: 18
  • Saginaw Valley: 13
  • Northwood: 14

This is a total of 252 roster spots for Division 1 (114) and Division 2 (138) combined.

When you go two levels lower to the NAIA (132) and DIII (114), you have 246 total roster spots:

NAIA*

  • Cornerstone: 16
  • U of M Dearborn: 18
  • Rochester: 17
  • Madonna: 17
  • Aquinas: 22
  • Sienna Heights: 15
  • Concordia: 17
  • Lawrence Tech: 10 (first-year program)

DIII*

  • Adrian: 12
  • Albion: 17
  • Alma: 24
  • Calvin: 16
  • Hope: 15
  • Kalamazoo: 17
  • Olivet: 13

*does not include roster numbers for JV teams, which usually carry at least 10 and fluctuate

Now when you take this down to the high school level, there are 710 school varsity basketball teams in the state of Michigan:

  • Class A = 188 teams
  • Class B = 180 teams
  • Class C = 170 teams
  • Class D = 172 teams

Assuming 13 kids per roster, there are 9,230 varsity basketball players in the 2017-2018 season.

That means that approx. 4% of all high school players will play college. Obviously there is a degree of variety to that, seeing as kids can go to college out of state, and Michigan schools recruit all over the Midwest (and world, see Mo Wagner, Stauskas). Also, basketball has the fewest roster spots of any sport, but it’s probably all relative with baseball, football, and track, which routinely carry rosters of 20, 60, and 100 kids respectively.

The specific numbers don’t matter as much as the overall message: a very small percentage of kids get to play a college sport. I, personally, think that is awesome. It’s something to be proud of whether it’s Alyssa Jabara playing at Concordia or Alan Wisniewski at Penn State. They are part of a select group of people who had a combination of controlled and non-controlled factors that gave them the opportunity to compete at a very high level.  If a formalized list is available to show the demands at each level, families will realize that playing college sports is not for everyone, but it is for anyone.

One and Done for Matt Fecht!

It's official kids! Count Matt Fecht in for the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials!

The picture says it all. Matt needed to run a 2:18:59, and knocked that out of the park - setting a 45-second pr in the process. I just got off the phone with him and this is confirmed.

Most times when I write on here I try to be as unbiased as possible while shading to the optimistic side. I did not think Matt was going to qualify this race. Plain and simple. He just broke his hand a few months ago, his workout times were inconsistent, and he's another freaking year older. Matt had a similar thoughts going through his head, and was hoping to make some kind of "progress" with this race -with "progress" being as vague of a term as possible. Then next thing he knew, he was looking at his watch with a couple hundred meters left and it said he needed to run basically at a Jacob 400 workout pace in order to hit the qualifying time. Oh God please just don't fall, Matt is I'm sure all that was going through his head. He did not fall.

Instead of falling, Matt ran a top 300 ever time, and will also be one of roughly 300 people in the history of the United States to ever make it to 3 straight Olympic Trials.

I just don't get running, man. Matt has been running professionally for a long time and he doesn't get running either. But who cares!! Matt Fecht can sit on his ass for the next three years and show up to Houston with the ripe measurables of 5'9, 305 lbs and still be allowed to run in the Trials. He will not, I assume, but I can only imagine how much freedom this gives his training plan in the next few years.

I have no more words, dude. This is awesome. Absolutely awesome. If anyone on earth diserves this, it's you!

Recommended reading: Olympic Trials Recap for Matt + Rant

Race Day for Matt

After a personal best place finishing in the top 50 in the last Olympic trials, Matt Fecht is back at the chase again and looking to be among only a handful of people to ever make it to three US Olympic Trials for the marathon. This is the first year athletes are eligible to run a qualifying time for 2020, and the Cal International Marathon in Sacramento is one of the best places to do that.

Recently, Matt has not been in the gym much as he was working through a broken hand, but his marathon workouts have still been on point for the most part. If I recall correctly, anything under 2:19 is what Matt is aiming for. He has two more years of attempts to run this time, but ideally he'd like to hit that as soon as possible so he can focus on other parts of his running.

Either way, we'll be rooting for Matt as always! Here's a link to follow him.

Race day is this Sunday, December 3 at 6:55 am (which would be 9:55 am our time).

Quote of the Week vol. 149

"If everyone pr'd every time they ran, the world record would be 0 or negative. There are so many factors that go into a pr that are out of your control - weather, equipment, external competition. You just gotta try to stay as close within a certain range as possible."

- Matt Fecht

Another quote that I think plays into yesterday's post.

Olympic Trials Recap for Marathon Matt + Rant

On a day with record-setting temperature for the start of a marathon, Champions Club fan-favorite Matt Fecht finished his race in 2:27:28 and 50th place out of 164 overall.

...........

Happy Gilmore said being good at golf requires goofy pants and a HUGE ass (like his neighbor, the accountant.) I wonder what he would say about marathon runners.

Running is a weird world, man. Right now, the 56th best player in the NBA is Andre Drummond. ANDRE FREAKING DRUMMOND. As in NBA All-Star, Slam Dunk Contest, averaging-20-rebounds-per-game, $10.6 million contract Andre Drummond. The 60th best high school senior is Brandon Peters - a household name who probably turned down under-the-table money from LSU and Arkansas to play quarterback for Harbaugh this fall and since has been dubbed the prodigal son of Michigan's program. The 52nd best player in Major League Baseball is Alex Rodriguez.

Matt Fecht is, give or take, the 50th best marathon runner in the entire country. He works three jobs, runs grade school basketball camps, and works out with a biology teacher and a Blob. Cool for us, but it should really make you appreciate his effort and how much he sacrifices to be considered among the elite in his sport. I guess that's why track is track, and not baseball, basketball, or football.

Honestly, I doubt anyone besides Crystal could name more than one single runner in this year's Olympic Trials (besides Matt obviously). Personally, when I was watching on tv I couldn't tell the difference between any of the runners. They all looked the same. Scrawny. Golf hats. Slamming their heels into the pavement. Announcers talking about some coach that sounds like the heir of Slytherin. It's just one of those sports which the rewards for success don't seem to override the physical toll it requires for being great. Drummond could easily justify hours in the gym, hectic travel plans, and heckling fans when he sees his game check and endorsement deals. Matt doesn't get that instant gratification. About 80 people care about what he does once every four years. Same with everyone in his field where the winner gets - as Jacob pointed out - a Sketchers endorsement... as in Rick Fox's Sketchers.

Matt, I want you to understand that, because we don't dwell with the track people, we don't really know what is going on in your world (50th place could be bad for all I know.) We don't know what a bad move is. We don't know how the sponsors work. We don't understand why you have to run in the ice. And we can't comprehend what a 20 mile tempo feels like - seeing as driving 20 miles at the same mph is difficult enough, what with traffic lights and turns and stuff. If you ran a 2:10 and a 2:20, we could not tell the difference. It's the same when Mama V wins teacher of the year awards, or Katie Bromm gets the Salutatorian. In our perspective there are four tiers of runners: Video game characters who run in the Olympics - Really good runners not in the Olympics - Murleys/Chrises/Crystals/Mr. Zs who run fast in workouts - The Kavanaughs/EPs who are timed with sun dials; everyone within those groups are pretty much the same.

Your last mile of a marathon in 80 degrees was faster than JZ has ever run a single mile in his life. Fast is fast to us.

It is with that preface that I want you to understand that it did not matter what place you finished in or what your time was. The fact that you call the Champions Club your home is what makes everyone so proud. You make running relevant to Mrs. Pip, Sabal, and a 26-year old former D-1 kicker who is somehow your agent now. That is what is important to us, and that is why we are so happy for you.

But top 50 is pretty sweet...

Video and pictures courtesy of Agent Alex Faust

Can't wait to see you back!

Matt Fecht Olympic Trials Race Info

TODAY, after much anticipation, the day has finally come for Champions Club fan-favorite Matt Fecht to race in the Olympic Trials in Los Angeles. Unlike the other races we have followed, this one will be broadcast on national television, as well as live streamed on a few different outlets. Here's your options:

NBC (yes, that NBC) at 1 pm our time

flotrack.com (coverage starts at noon)

nbcsports.com at 1 pm

Matt is wearing bib #64. Be on the lookout for him and our Champions Club water bottles.

Matt and Agent Alex Faust doing gangsta thangs. Probably just listened to Kanye West.

Today Only: Decorate Bottlez for Matt

Matt Fecht is running in the US Olympic Trials this weekend in California. Details for a live stream will be coming soon, but we all have an opportunity to help him out during the race. Here's how it works.

There are (I believe) 10 hydration stations throughout the course, pre-stocked by each individual runner, that are available for them to refuel as they are running. Matt has asked that different Champions Club members decorate at least 10 different water bottles for him to use during the race that could serve as motivation for him while he drinks his water or electrolyte fluid. They can be anything from an inside joke, to words of encouragement, to a handsome gentlemen picture.

The deadline is tonight around 7:30 pm - when Matt is going to swing by the gym to pick them up.

Bring your markers or pictures to the gym and decorate away!