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Service helps athletes land scholarships

Anyone navigating the waters of getting a kid into college knows its challenges. Add in trying to get an athletic scholarship and as Buster Schwab said, "It’s a full-time job."

That’s why Schwab, along with business partner Parkite Ryan Renne, created Athletic Placement Services (APS). The two were already business partners in Echo Global Logistics (formerly Transportation Management Group), so starting another business wasn’t a big stretch. Considering that Schwab was Park City High School’s baseball coach for years before moving to California a few years ago, the two knew they had a recipe for success.

But before jumping in with both feet, they did a little research, checking out what other recruiting services where offering. Not a whole lot for a whole of money is what they found. So, a year and a half ago, they set out to build a system that would get student athletes into good athletic programs at good colleges.

Renne said that many parents have the notion early on that, if their kids are good players, they will get noticed. But he said that time and time again he has seen that it doesn’t happen that way.

He isn’t referring to the elite players of the world who are unquestionably Division-I-program bound. Instead, APS chooses to focus on helping the kids in that next tier those who are quality athletes and could definitely play at a small Division I or Division II school.

The goal of APS is to get the kids noticed, not necessarily recruited, so Renne and Schwab like to start working with teens in their freshman or sophomore year of high school.

"We offer customer service and personalized attention," Schwab said.

They do their best to get them to all-star showcases, games or regional meets attended by recruiters. They also help them compile a profile and add video clips. Renne said the technology factor sets them apart. They offer a "video locker" full of clips as well as a system that files emails and letters from college recruiters. Their Web site also features a search engine where kids and parents can search by school size, sport or any other topic to learn about different athletic programs.

But one of the biggest things that APS offers is academic counseling. According to Renne and Schwab, grades will sometimes open the most college program doors for a kid.

"Academic abilities are important," Renne said. "It’s not all about sports."

APS has partnered with an academic service, Naviance, and offers grade checks and information about different college academic requirements. Naviance also offers ACT and SAT prep courses.

"We traveled to camps and realized that if you have good grades and can spit and run, then we can find a place for you," Renne said.

Sometimes they even help athletes who are top students find academic scholarships first and then find them places on the sports team.

The camps are also very important. They are generally very expensive, so APS tries to capitalize on the exposure they get there. They also try to get athletes to as many of the good ones in a specific sport as possible.

"We’re taking the process from beginning to end," Renne said. "We give you the how, when and what to get it done."

They offer the service in every sport from baseball to swimming and even work with teens involved in cheer and dance.

As a parent of a senior ball player, Schwab knows first-hand how helpful a service like his can be. With high school coaches often too busy to help on a consistent basis, it often becomes a burden on parents.

"It’s all about the parents and how daunting a process it is," he said. "Parents need help."

The program has helped him to find a plethora of options for his son, Atlee, who originally was just looking at one or two college programs.

"It’s been awesome," Schwab said.

It also keeps the parents from looking like pushy stage parents.

"Parents like the idea of other people pushing the process," Renne said.

It can also add a third party to push young athletes to do well in school and play hard on the playing field.

APS has both recruitment coordinators and placement specialists who combine to promote the athletes and then to help them match their skill set with the right school.

Right now, assis-tant Park City High School baseball coach Terry Phillips and assistant football coach John Chynoweth are working with Renne and Schwab as recruiting coordinators.

Much like Schwab and his son, Chynoweth is going through a similar process with his son, Dylan, a junior running back at Park City High. Dylan is what Renne calls the "perfect candidate" for the APS service. His is a solid player with a 3.98 grade point average, but is slightly undersized. Renne is confident that they can find Dylan a scholarship with that combination.

"We want to show people what good grades get them," Renne said.

In comparison to other services that charge upwards of $1,800 for a one-time profile listing on the Web, APS offers a lot more bang for fewer bucks. If a parent signs up at the start of the child’s career, the four-year fee is about $3,200 and APS offers them on-going and intense service until they sign with a school.

Renne recommends starting at the freshman level so the kids can constantly make connections and keep their grades up.

"If freshmen want to get to the next level, they need to build a base," Renne said. "They don’t want to get to their senior year and think, "Gosh, I didn’t do anything."

Also, most colleges have made their decisions on athletes by the beginning of the senior year of high school, so timing is important.

APS doesn’t promise a scholarship, but does hope to give kids as many options as possible to help them find the right program.

"People need to have realistic expectations," Renne said.

Still, with all of the Division I and II programs out there, he is pretty confident there is a match for most kids who are truly talented. The difference is just doing the right things to get their names out there.

"College sports are at an all-time high," Renne said. "It’s harder to get noticed. You need to be continually marketing yourself through your prep career.

The APS is available to all prep athletes, not just those in Summit County. They work with high school programs, as well as club programs and booster clubs. In fact, if an entire club commits to APS, it will get some money kicked back to the program from the company. APS also ensures that everything it uses from grades to stats is certified by a third objective party. APS offers two levels of service for all high school grade levels. It also has payment plans available. For more information, visit http://www.apsrecruits.com.


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