Grab that scholarship online |

Grab that scholarship online

Cliff Thompson
beRecruited BH 6-24/Brets Edit

If you’re a high school athlete but you’re not participating in a high-profile sport, how can you ensure you’ll be considered for an athletic scholarship?

One way is to market yourself on the Internet, and two young local entrepreneurs have launched a virtual business that puts scholastic athletes and college coaches together. It’s called, founded by Ryan Spoon, 22, and Russell Cook, 21, who have an office in Vail.

Cook and Spoon say they set out to resolve the problem students in non-glamour sports -cross-country running, wrestling, lacrosse, rowing, etc. -have when seeking schools that offer scholarships and meet their academic criteria.

Spoon was an honors graduate and a swimmer at Duke University, where he set multiple records and placed 16th at nationals, meeting Olympic trials qualifying standards. Meanwhile Cook, in Vail on summer vacation, is pursuing a triple-major at Duke, where he studies electrical engineering, computer science and economics.

It’s all about money

The idea for came when Spoon began applying to schools.

“When you’re not in a sport like football and basketball, which have a lot of money, it’s very difficult to get the information you need (about recruiting); and for coaches, you don’t have the financial ability to travel and scout,” says Spoon. “I realized there has to be a way to do that using the Internet.”

This week, the pair is expanding their business into 16 additional sports and hope to see as many as many as 2 million unique visitors to their site each month.

They started their business 24 months ago as a service for scholastic swimmers and divers. It worked well. They were able to get 475 NCAA coaches and 1,000 athletes using the service, which is free to coaches but costs students $19.99 to $59.99, depending on the service.

Each participant has a Web profile and posts pertinent academic and athletic information. The most expensive package even uses streaming video presentations of athletic endeavors or interviews, Spoon says. Coaches even receive automatic e-mail notification when scholar-athletes fitting their needs sign up. Cook does the database coding for the site.

Worldwide interest

The service so far has generated 25,000 monthly visitors and has participants from 25 countries.

Cook and Spoon market their business using strategic partnerships with sports publications. They also e-mail sports teams with incentives for group sign-ups.

Even so, it takes a lot of word-of-mouth, Spoon says.

“We start with a major alliance or partnership in each sport and build from that,” he says.

Apparently, there’s a sizable audience for their service. Each year 200,000 students are recruited for athletic scholarships.

“We started with swimming and diving, because that’s what I know,” Spoon says. “Our larger goal was to see if we could make this into a larger enterprise.”

If the expansion works, Spoon and Cook say they expect to see up to six figures in revenue. The pair figure their business model has great promise – each year there will be a new crop of potentially recruitable students.

How to find them:

– Address on the Web:

– E-mail address –

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555 ext. 450 or

Support Local Journalism