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“Ask The Experts” is written and provided by Scholarship Media. It does not reflect the views of The Collegian or its advertisers.

My little brother is a junior in high school in our hometown, which in a really rural area. He’s into athletics, and more than just a high school jock–he thinks he would eventually like to coach at the high school or college level. His coaches say he has true potential. The school is so small, though, that there aren’t a lot of different sports for him to explore or places for him to train. I was thinking maybe he could come visit me at college while he’s on spring break. I go to college at Michigan State, which is a big sports school, but I’m not into sports at all and I have no connections. What are some resources he can use to find more ways to train and explore, both at home and when he’s visiting me?

Your brother faces the same problem a lot of kids in rural areas face: the lack of opportunities and access to specialized interests such as athletics and the arts. Rural living has some wonderful upsides to it, but it can be hard on teens when they begin to explore all the options life has to offer. Your brother is hardly alone: there are 15 states where more than half of the schools in the state are rural.

Many rural schools are beginning to offer students access to online courses that can help broaden their education. In a way, your brother can do this for himself. According to one the professionals at Coachtube, it’s important for athletes to reinforce what they do on the field by watching and listening to experts and reviewing the theories and techniques behind the sport. If he wants to coach, he will need to know more than just how the sport is played. Your brother will need at least a Bachelor’s degree in an area such as kinesiology, exercise science, or physical education.

He’s lucky that he’s got access to a city where there’s a lot of athletic action happening. When he comes to visit you, have him take the initiative to research the MSU coaches and exercise science professors on campus and contact them. Most likely, he will find a couple people who are available for a quick interview. According to one such retired college softball player turned coach from Kelly’s Ultimate Sports, there are all kinds of sporting events happening in Lansing, and not just within the university spectrum. Have your brother find out what kinds of tournaments and conferences might be going on in the area, so he can make the most out of his visit.

Of course, there’s no substitution for getting out there and practicing the craft. Professional athletes train about five to six hours a day, six days a week. Even if your brother would rather coach than play, he needs to have experience playing! If your brother is within driving distance of a larger town, encourage him to get involved with any local intramural teams or even contact high schools with larger athletics programs to see if he can observe or even train with them. If it’s at all possible, he might even want to consider transferring high schools.

“I am building a fire, and everyday I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match,” Mia Hamm