College placement perspectives, from a father of four
#14 Practice your tools in stressful situations, so they become habits (Technical)
By Emilio Sánchez Vicario, CEO & Founder at Sánchez-Casal Academy.
It’s been 18 years since we founded the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona, and 4 since we opened our academy in the US. Our mission is very clear: to provide opportunities in both tennis and education. We have helped lots of students to go through college placement process and take advantage of the fantastic education system provided by the USA, which allows players that love a sport to practice it and attend college at the same time. In Spain and the rest of Europe, those possibilities quickly vanish. If you want to succeed in tennis or any other sport, you won’t find any infrastructure or competition.
Over the years, we have been very successful in motivating our students to go to college in the US, and the majority have followed our advice. We’ve had students accepted into the top academic and tennis programs, with players at Cornell, Columbia, Harvard, Duke, Miami, Alabama, Colorado, Pepperdine, Notre Dame, Clemson, De Paul, NYU, Berkley and many others. The list goes on and on, and we are very proud of our alumni. Some of them have become very successful in their careers, whilst others, after completing their degree, returned to tennis and are now some of our best coaches. A few of them have become professional tennis players, like Andy Murray, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Juan Monaco and Grigor Dimitrov – the chosen ones that have taken the path many of us dream of but is reserved only for the most talented.
Since I moved to the United States, I learned how important it is to choose the right college since a very early stage. Parents get very involved in the process – they fight to get their kid into what they think is the best campus, the best program and the best team. They organize college visits and meet the admissions staff, they try to make sure that the right coaches see their children play so they have a better chance of getting onto the team, or getting a scholarship. Some parents even donate to the school to get a place on its board of trustees.
I always tried to help students and parents with this process, and give the youngest ones the strength to be themselves. My daughter is now 15 years old. In two and a half years she’ll graduate from high school and we’ll be in the position of deciding, ‘where to go?’, ‘public or private?’, ‘IB or traditional degree?’, ‘Tennis team div 1, 2 or 3?’ ‘Far or close to home?’ What a difficult task.
American parents start preparing for this when their kids are in elementary school. They open bank accounts to start saving money, and the ones that can’t afford the tuition ask the bank for credit with the promise that they will pay the money back once their children start working. Everything is about those years, and a lot is at stake. Education is key. It’s a tradition, it’s an investment, and it’s a life opportunity. We have to invest in contacts and in the future. For the families, it is a huge step.
I hope that I can give my daughter the same opportunities that I give to others and that she will experience four incredible years that she’ll remember for her entire life. I’m confident that she can earn her place on merit – that would make my day. It would mean a huge reward for the hard work, time on the court and in the classroom, as well as the sacrifices she has made to achieve her goals of getting a scholarship. My dream is to see her grow, advance, and develop as a human being.
That’s why as a parent, I think that making the right decisions early on when our children start school can make a big difference. Here at the Sanchez-Casal Academy we provide the best guidance and support to assist our student-athletes in applying for college. Last month, six of our alumni players signed NLIs with Division 1 colleges: River Hart with the University of Minnesota, Edson Ortiz with the University of Alabama, Victoria Emma with the University of Florida, Tristan McCormick with the University of Notre Dame, Fletcher Scott with the University of Illinois and Zummi Bauer with Georgia Tech. This didn’t happen by accident. It was the result of hard work on the court and at school: taking the right subjects and tests, attending the right tournaments and showcases, and building an interesting curriculum to attract the attention of the best colleges.
They have practiced their tools in stressful situations for making them habits. And now, they reap the rewards. We wish them all the best of luck, and we will continue to work hard so that every year, all of our students have the chance to fulfil their dreams.
Emilio Sánchez Vicario
CEO & Founder at Sánchez-Casal Academy