Student-Athlete Recognition/Award Opportunities
Northwest Homeschool Athletic Cooperative offers several ways for home schooled student-athletes to earn awards and recognition. Typical sports awards (summer mileage club, varsity lettering and other end-of-season awards, etc.) are listed in the Team Handbook and are presented at the End-Of-Season Banquets.
We want our student-athletes to have as many other opportunities as possible to be recognized for their life pursuits outside sports. What follows is a list of awards and honor societies available to home schooled students--to help build resumes for college/job/scholarship applications.
- President's Volunteer Service Award
- MSHSL Awards for academic excellence
- Minnesota State High School Coaches Association Awards
- Homeschool Honor Societies
- Congressional Award
A note about recommendation letters. Some awards (as well as college/job applications, etc.) require letters of recommendation. We are happy to help our student-athletes with these, but please consider how much time and thought these take to do them well. All requests must come directly from the student (not a parent) with 3 weeks' lead time (we may need more than that during the coaching season, but ask anyway!). The following articles are among the best we’ve seen regarding recommendation letter requests, whether you’re asking a coach, tutor/teacher/professor, or family friend. Hope this helps!
- "Etiquette for Requesting Letters of Recommendation" by Linda Lopez of YEAH co-op. Used with permission. Important read!
- https://professionals.collegeboard.org/guidance/applications/teacher-tips (download and complete the Student Self-Assessment to help your recommenders learn more about you)
- https://www.commonapp.org/resource/tips-writing-effective-letters-recommendation (forward this link to your recommenders if you like the tips)
President's Volunteer Service Award
NHAC (Nighthawks) is a Certifying Organization for President's Volunteer Service Awards (PVSA). This is an excellent opportunity for home schooled students to earn recognition (think "resume") for voluntary service to their team and community.
Nighthawk athletes who offer volunteer service to the team (see Team Handbook for ideas, or propose your own) will be able to submit service hours to us for verification, both for team service (outside practices/meets) as well as other volunteer service you might be doing.
|Hours by Award||Bronze||Silver||Gold|
|Teens (11–15)||50 – 74||75 – 99||100 +|
|Young Adults (16-25)||100 – 174||175 – 249||250 +|
Along with the honor of this recognition, recipients will receive an official certificate, pin, coin, or medal.
- Awards are measured over a 12-month period (September 1 - August 31).
- Age category is determined by the age a volunteer is for at least 7 months out of a designated 12-month award period.
- Service to or on behalf of NHAC must constitute at least 10 of your total hours.
(2021 adjustment = 5 of your total hours).
- See the PVSA website for examples of Eligible Service.
- May not include providing religious instruction (e.g., Awana, Sunday school, VBS, etc.) or conducting/assisting worship service.
Awards are presented at the End-of-Season Cross Country Banquet. If you're in Track & Field and not CC, we'll get it to you one way or another.
Minnesota State High School League Awards
(Your homeschool must be a member of the MSHSL to qualify.)
Spotlight on Scholarship. A year-round recognition program for academic excellence; the League provides certificates to students who participate in League-sponsored activities and who have a "B" (3.0) or better grade point average. Parents must submit cumulative GPA's each season on behalf of their student-athletes. Banners are awarded to programs based on all sports for the entire school year.
Additional recognition/awards can be found on the League website.
Minnesota State High School Coaches Association Awards
The MSHSCA provides recognition to individuals and teams based on a combination of athletic and academic standards. These standards vary slightly from CC to T&F. GPA's are cumulative and based on a 4.0 scale. Applications for these awards must be submitted by a member coach. Requirements may change from year to year, so ask your coaches if you have questions about current eligibility.
- All-State honors: Top 25 finishers at the State Championship.
- Academic All-State award: Individuals in grades 10-12 with a GPA of 3.75+ and who finish in the top 15 at the Section Championship.
- Team Academic Excellence recognition: Top 5 cumulative GPAs of varsity Section Team (including alternates) are averaged to compute team score. Gold (3.75+) and Silver (3.50-3.74) levels.
- All-State honors: Top 9 finishers in each event at the State Championship.
- Academic All-State award: Individuals in grades 9-12 with a GPA of 3.6+ on a 4.0 scale cumulative starting in the 9th grade, and who meet one of the following three criteria: 1) earn All-Conference honors, 2) qualify for the current year's State Track and Field Meet, or have 3) met the Honor Roll performance standards for at least one event as found on the Coaches' Association website. (RaceberryJaM also publishes Honor Roll standards & standings.)
- Team Academic Excellence recognition: Average of top 10 GPA's of the members of the team's first round (section or subsection) team. Gold (3.75+) or Silver (3.50-3.749) status. GPAs must be cumulative from 9th grade through the end of the current school year.
Homeschool Honor Societies
Colleges and universities consider honor society designations a regular part of a well-rounded transcript, and society memberships enhance your applications for scholarships. While some honor societies are tailored to 'traditional' schools and therefore inaccessible to home schooled students, there are options available to homeschoolers. Coaches are a good resource for reference letters as they can attest to your attendance and commitment to the team!
Eta Sigma Alpha. This is a recognized honor society started in 1999 because home schooled students are prohibited from joining the National Honor Society. There is no local chapter established in Minnesota, so you will have to join the 'Omega' (national) chapter. You must provide a copy of your transcript, proof of qualifying test scores (may not be administered by a parent), a short statement from the student, and letters of recommendation. You must also submit volunteer service hours each year. Open to 9th-12th grade students; students may apply the summer after their 8th grade year through October of their senior year. Annual renewal by payment and service hours (no retesting required).
National Home School Science Honor Society. This is a newer society as homeschool membership in the "regular" Science National Honor Society is a bit unclear. The NHSSHS is organized by the ESA (above, which means you can use your recommendation letters for both societies) but with standards specific to the science portion of standardized tests. Retesting is not required, but you must renew annually with payment and reporting volunteer service hours. Special recognition is given to those who reach certain science-related service goals.
Mu Eta Sigma. The purpose of Mu Eta Sigma is to recognize and encourage mathematical excellence and scholarship among homeschool students. It is a comparable alternative to Mu Alpha Theta, the most prominent national math honor society available to public and private high school students. You must provide proof of qualifying test scores (may not be administered by a parent) and submit volunteer service hours each year. Open to 9th-12th grade students. Annual renewal by payment and service hours (no retesting required).
National Society of High School Scholars. Founded by Claes Nobel, whose family established the Nobel Prizes. Either register for an account as an "Educator" or use the printable nomination form on the FAQ page. You may nominate your student(s) based on GPA or test scores. Open to 9th (after first quarter transcripts have been finalized) through 12th grade students. Lifetime membership, no renewal needed.
Another opportunity to consider is the Congressional Award. This is a prestigious award given annually by the United States Congress to young Americans: "It is non-partisan, voluntary, and non-competitive. The program is open to all 14- to 23-year-olds; young people may register when they turn 13 1/2 years old and must complete their activities before their 24th birthday. Participants earn Bronze, Silver and Gold Congressional Award Certificates and Bronze, Silver and Gold Congressional Award Medals. Each level involves setting goals in four program areas; Volunteer Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration. Earning the Award is a fun and interesting way to get more involved in something you already enjoy or something you'd like to try for the first time. You move at your own pace--on your own or with your friends..."
It's not "easy;" but with planning and commitment, it's achievable--all the way to the Gold Medal, which is presented to recipients at a ceremony each summer in Washington, D.C. You can find a good article here as it relates to home schooled students: Intermediate medals (Bronze and Silver) are presented locally after the program notifies your congressman.
Setting and achieving goals at any level is good material for college, scholarship, and job applications. Setting goals for and participating in sports is a straightforward way for you to earn the Physical Fitness component of the award. Your participation in other activities (music, theater, 4-H, hobbies, community service, etc.) are natural possibilities for the other components. You do need to log at least 24 months of activity (beginning after you register and submit goals) to reach the Gold level in most areas, so the earlier you register, the better.