My Story - Mike Orchard
Updated: Oct 2, 2020
I thought I was going to coach baseball my entire life. I was going to be on the field until somebody peeled the uniform off me. There is nothing I thought that could be as rewarding as coaching players on a day-to-day basis. I was wrong.
In world of helping baseball players find their right collegiate fit, I was able to find a more rewarding career. It has allowed me to make a greater IMPACT with MORE athletes than coaching a baseball team.
When I started on this new career four years ago, I didn't realize what today's athlete goes through trying to get to the right college. Year-round sports, club teams, showcases and 3rd party services give the family a lot to navigate. And without sounding like an old guy - this wasn't the world I grew up in when it came to college recruiting.
One of the things that also struck me when I entered this space was how many people were "trying" to do college recruiting, yet there weren’t that many that were doing it well. There were some that were complete money grabs. There were others that were done by sales people. Some even tried to promote players in sports that they weren't familiar with at a very basic level.
I wanted to have quality players that contact the right schools, with the right information at the right time. Then, when they communicate with those schools, they have somebody who can give them the proper advice on a number of topics. There is a definite need for families to have a system with people they trust to help guide them through this maze.
Everybody who has played college sports has a story of going through the college recruiting process.
Here is mine.
I knew that I loved baseball and couldn't imagine not playing after high school. I was an All-State player in Iowa on a very good high school baseball team. Other than that, I was clueless about how to go about playing in college.
My high school coach who I deeply admired, did whatever he could for his players. At one of away games, he arranged for a college to come watch me. I hit 2 homers and drove in 9 runs - in ONE GAME. Needless to say they liked what they saw. That was that. I took a visit, they offered and I accepted. I couldn't even tell you what they offered. I couldn't have even told you the difference between a loan and a grant at that time.
It was somewhere I could play baseball. I had no idea what I was looking for and no idea what was important to me.
I left for Grand View University in August of 1997.
I was back home in 4 months.
Why wouldn't my college choice fail? I hadn't asked myself the appropriate questions that were needed to make an informed decision.
I went to a small school which was not a fit for me socially. Student life was something that was important to me. I felt claustrophobic with such a small campus.
I didn't have a car which made me feel like I was stuck on campus.
I took out a student loan. Looking back, I am not sure how much it was for and thank heavens I didn't graduate from that college because I would have been in a huge hole of debt.
I didn't care for the coaching style because it was way different than the style I played for in high school where I excelled.
I didn't know how to project playing time at the college level. I was an all-state player but didn't understand I wouldn't be the man in college right away.
In short, I didn't like anything about my college choice.
Yes, I could have stuck it out longer - but I wasn't happy, and I knew that place wasn't right for me. I didn't know what I didn't know. Looking back, I would have done things totally different.
I transferred from Grand View after one semester and went back to my hometown. There, I was able to play baseball at a local junior college for two seasons. And to be honest that wasn't a great fit for me either. If I would have had this service that we provide, it would have changed my entire course for the better.
My high school coach did what we could for me, but it wasn't enough. It is not enough to just be at a school playing a sport. The right fit can make the entire experience very fulfilling. The wrong fit can do just the opposite.
By starting this company, I want to give families a system to follow along with the proper advice to get their child to the right school. I didn't say the best college, but instead the right college. And that is different for every player.
That is why I struggle when players get half-hazard advice from people who think they know about the recruiting process. Their stories can be anecdotal and not really apply to the player they are trying to help.
In this day and age, the average family spends a crazy amount of money and resources trying to get their kid to play at the next level. What if it didn't have to be so expensive? What if it didn't have to be so complicated?
I want to give families a cost-effective way to help them navigate the college process WHILE not breaking the bank.
I am very passionate about high school sports but I'm even more passionate about helping young athletes get on the right path and onto the right opportunity.
I have mentored more than 450 players in the college recruiting process and have learned that there is not a one-size-fits-all.
Our goal at College Athlete Advantage is to work alongside the family to help their athlete play their sport at the best collegiate fit. The best fit means athletically, academically AND financially.
For more information about the College Athlete Advantage Recruiting Program please call Mike Orchard @ 407-489-7509 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.