March 20, 2008
Stillman aids local athletes
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
After helping two daughters get into college sports, Homer’s Dusty Stillman, shown here with a notebook of athletes’ information, is regional scouting director for Collegiate Sports of America (CSA) PrepStar.
It is every parent’s dream to have their son or daughter be successful. If that happens to involve playing sports in high school, that dream may include moving on the play college ball and maybe receiving a scholarship to help pay for the expected costs.
Maybe it is only blue-chip student-athletes (i.e. a Mike Hart) who get those big scholarships, but there is a way to get your child noticed as well and it took going through the process twice that spurred a local father to begin a new career to help other parents get their children on a possible road to continuing their athletic career in college and helping to pay for it at the same time.
Dusty Stillman was forced into a career change one year ago and, after enjoying a few months watching his daughter Laynie play softball at Niagara University, he become a regional scouting director for Collegiate Sports of America (CSA)-PrepStar. Stillman’s franchise territory stretches from the Southern Tier (Binghamton) to Central New York (Cortland-Syracuse) and then west to Rochester and Buffalo. He currently is working with 11 clients, but has helped nearly 350 student-athletes register with CSA-PrepStar since August 2007.
While CSA-PrepStar does not take every student-athlete, 93 percent of those that do meet the qualification standards have made it to the collegiate level.
“Unless you are that blue-chip athlete, you may not even get noticed,” said Stillman. “That is the biggest myth out there. Just because you may be a good athlete, it does not mean that you get exposure. That is what CSA-Prep Star does, it gets you that needed exposure to many colleges and universities.
“As a regional director, I search for that local talent that might be able to play at that next level,” Stillman continued. “We (CSA-PrepStar) cannot determine what that next level is until we sit down with the athlete and do an evaluation. I search the newspapers and internet for those high school athletes that are competing at a higher level and put then in our system. Our system will then send the athlete a package of information that says you have been recognized as a potential college prospect. If you are interested, fill out this form and one of our regional scouting directors will contact you to conduct a student-athlete evaluation.”
If the student-athlete responds and fills out the form, then Stillman sets up a meeting with the parents and that student-athlete. He explains a little about himself and what he went through with his daughters, Laynie (Niagara) and Brook (Western Carolina), to get them into college sports. He then talks about CSA, which has been in business since 1982 and has helped more than 40,000 athletes realize their dreams of competing at the next level.
“I help explain the recruiting process,” said Stillman. “I talk about what the parents can expect and what college coaches are looking for. Our motto is academics through athletics. That means academics is the most important thing. If athletics can be used as a vehicle to get that education through scholarships, grants, etc., to reduce the cost to the parents, we believe at CSA that that is the best of both worlds.
“There is money out there,” Stillman added. “There is nearly as much money at Division II, Division III and NAIA as there is in Division I. The lower divisions have most of those monies in grants, instead of scholarships.”
If the student-athlete is approved for the CSA-PrepStar prgogram, there is a fee for using their services. What the student-athlete gets for the cost is worth the investment. There is a student profile that goes on the CSA-PrepStar website. That profile includes the student’s personal and academic data, school data, an athletic profile with stats and honors, skills and attributes, plus a photo. The information is send via mail or e-mail to prospective coaches. CSA-PrepStar has more than 2,000 Division I, II, III and NAIA colleges that use their services so the number of potential exposures is much more than one person could realistically do by themselves.
“When a college coach contacts you, make sure you respond,” Stillman said. “If they are contacting you that means they are interested. You do not have to commit to them, but that shows them that you are also interested and those coaches will stay in contact with you. It opens the lines of communication. That should also be a catalyst to the athlete to stay focused and to try to do their best.”
In addition, a student-athlete can update their stats and information as many times as they want and that helps to generate more updates being sent out.
“If a athlete registered with us as a freshman at the top level of our program, there would be nearly 20,000 exposures over the course of four years,” Stillman stated. “That includes mailing out new updated profiles to 300 colleges three times a year, plus 500 e-mails to coaches every 45 days. Those emails go directly to the coach’s in-box with attachments. You can average four to five thousand exposures every year until you have decided where to go or that you have decided that you received enough information to make a decision.”
To find out more about CSA-PrepStar and Stillman, log on to www.csaprepstar.com. To contact Stillman directly, send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 315-350-3930 (office) or 607-423-5918 (cell phone).
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