Antigua-based University ID Combine poised to deliver scholarships

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua (November 30, 2018) – If the academic performances align to the football prowess displayed over the course of a three-day University ID Combine, no fewer than one dozen footballers from Antigua and Barbuda could be college bound for the 2019 school year.

Title of imageJaymee Highcock, men’s and women’s coach at William Penn University (NAIA Heart of America Athletic Conference, Oskaloosa, Iowa), and Kevin Brennan, assistant coach at Drake University (Missouri Valley Conference of NCAA Division 1, Des Moines, Iowa), visited Antigua and conducted the combine from November 26-28, with a presentation on admission requirements a few days earlier. The coaches were scouting for their schools and other institutions, the names of which they were unable to disclose at the time.

The caliber of the players pleased both men, with Brennan saying it “was surprisingly high overall,” and Highcock adding “it was great.”

A total of 83 players – 26 girls and 57 men – participated in the three-day scouting initiative.

Brennan identified about six players whose academics and overall eligibility he will continue to research. Highcock, who already has two players from Antigua on his squad, meanwhile, has his eyes on at least three female players and five young men. Both coaches also identified 14-and-15-year-old players to watch for the future.

“Once they meet the academic requirements, we will be able to make offers in the coming weeks,” Highcock said.

“The kids we saw have the ability to play in the States, and once their academics match up, they can get a space,” Brennan echoed, adding that Antigua is an untapped resource.

He also urged players to understand how important it is to keep their grades as sharp as their football skills. That last message was primarily for the participants too young for offers but who nonetheless impressed. They now have a blueprint from which to work, Brennan noted. “If they have 80s then turn those 80s to 90s, and if they have 90s aim for 100, because that’s where we can look at academic scholarships on top of athletic scholarships. The future is in their hands and it can only get better.”

For the footballers – the youngsters whose overall aim is to play professionally, the older ones seeking pathways to tertiary education and the others just wanting more – the University ID Combine was an opportunity to level up.

The young man a few years removed from secondary school who walked several miles after work, racing against the clock, to deliver his application and who turned up to the pitch daily after working a full shift; the slight, nervous 15-year-old girl two years away from completing high school but wanting to get her ducks in a row; and the 14-year-old male football fanatic who measures everything by football all exemplified the passion present.

That’s the purpose of the program, organizer and CEO of Generation Next FC Richard Santos said.  “We want to harness opportunities for the players in Antigua. We have so many talented youth, so many deserving youth, so many players for whom the guidance and an offer could make the world of a difference in their lives and in the lives of their families, and we want to use football as a vehicle to aid their growth and development.”

“We are also grateful that the coaches made the time to come to Antigua, and we are thrilled by the level of participation, the intensity and performance of the participants, their prospects and the relationship we are building with the universities, Santos said.

Scouting over, it’s now time to watch this space.