According to the NCAA, there are more than 8 million high school athletes playing sports in schools across the United States. Of those 8 million student athletes, fewer than 500,000 will move onto college to play sports. Many of those students will pay their own way and play sports while getting an education. For any student athlete seeking a collegiate scholarship, the chances of landing one are slim. The NCAA states just 2% of high school athletes receive a scholarship to a Division I university.
The number of scholarships aren’t just low, but many of America’s student athletes go unnoticed by collegiate coaches due to the vast size of the country. An athlete that doesn’t stand out amongst the crowd and garner newsworthy headlines may struggle to gain the awareness needed to attract colleges and coaches.
That is why SchollyME was created as it gives student athletes the opportunity to attract university coaches. The sports recruiting app gives student athletes a voice and enables them to gain attention. Sometimes, an athlete’s performances aren’t enough to garner a collegiate scholarship. SchollyME gives athletes that little something to market themselves like never before.
Melvin, you founded SchollyME in 2011. Can you explain what exactly is Schollyme?
SchollyME is the leading sports recruiting app that allows athletes to brand and market themselves to collegiate level coaches in hopes of earning an athletic scholarship.
How did you come up with SchollyME and form the athletic recruitment app?
Much like the commitment SchollyME has now, the app was born out of my relationship with athletes. Years ago, I was working with a basketball player, Tiffany Hurd, she was a phenomenal athlete, but wasn’t getting the deserved looks or offers when it came to playing at a collegiate level. At the time, I was working with her, she was playing for Moorpark Junior College. In our time together, I was able to help her land a full-ride basketball scholarship to Providence University. From there, I knew that I could streamline this process and offer it to even more students globally.
Melvin how different is your app to other sports recruitment apps on the market?
Simply put, we’ve leveled the playing field! SchollyME doesn’t charge athletes upwards of $3,500 or more, like many of our competitors do. Our app is not only 100% free, but it allows athletes to have autonomy over the way in which they brand and market themselves to desired coaches and colleges. Giving them invaluable life skills that can be used beyond the court or field.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced college sports to adapt to the times. Until the pandemic, many coaches at universities relied on old-school methods to recruit players. This often meant contacting high school coaches, going to see live games, or getting second-hand information to learn about potential signings. SchollyME has disrupted the old-school methods and made college sports coaches use modern technology to discover potential athletes for the future.
How has COVID-19 affected your business?
The ongoing COVID-19 health crisis has allowed the college coaches to discover how important it is to recruit using technology — more specifically SchollyME. I don’t think recruiting will ever go back to being the same on the other side of COVID. If you’re not recruiting with technology after the pandemic, you’re not hungry for the best players. COVID forced the coaches to see things from the athletes perspective and recruit even when you’re unable to physically see athletes in person.
You recently launched your app in Kenya. At the time of the release of the app you decided to help feed 400 children. Can you explain how this came about?
Wow — when we found out that we were accepted into Kenya with our mobile app, we were blown away! We were so excited to give these young people a chance to come to the United States and receive, not only a high school, but also college education, an opportunity unheard of for some of their immediate family members. Even with this, we were unaware of the immense impact that it would have on our hearts. To see entire families overcome with joy that their children could have an opportunity to travel and make a living was extremely moving.
Melvin, have you got plans for programs like the Kenya project in the works?
Right now, it’s mostly this Kenya project. However, another project that is close to my heart is to give housing scholarships to these unhoused students in America. Currently, there are more than 65,000 unhoused college students in the United States. They’ve done everything they were asked to do and sometimes pressured to do, but their immediate family doesn’t have the means to financially support them for housing. That’s where I want SchollyME to step up and step in. Like my mother said “no child should go to bed hungry.” And no student should have to sleep in their car to go to college.
One of the aspects that makes SchollyME so popular is the company’s relationship with student athletes. It stays on the pulse of high school and college sports, which pays off for athletes when they market themselves to universities.
How do you keep up with the changes in the sports recruitment industry?
We keep our ears to the ground. We make sure we’re where the athletes and coaches are. We make sure we’re a part of the change conversations going on behind closed doors. The athletes love when SchollyME is in the building or at their games. Our relationships with students go beyond the app!
You started marketing in 2012. Is there any advice you would give to people starting out?
Try to build a brand and not just a company. Companies come and go, but brands last a lifetime and have measurable impact. So, be intentional about what you’re creating and ask yourself, “what problem does it solve?”
What is successful sports marketing in your eyes?
Successful marketing is when you know your target market and know exactly what to do to get in touch with them. Then you go outside your target market and you market to and convince those that didn’t know they needed you to realize they need you. Then it’s being able to have something that people recognize as a great product by merely hearing the name or seeing the logo.
What will the future hold for you and Schollyme?
We are only going to grow bigger and better. We are going to be in more countries providing more opportunities. In the near future, we will be known as the number one sports recruiting app for sports and esports.
Melvin, what is a day in your life like?
I always start my day by checking in on my mom. So many of us take life for granted because of our health, but my mom had two strokes, so I understand the delicacy of life and the importance of honoring our loved ones. After that, I check my bank account and make sure that it’s growing. Followed by social media, emails, and meetings/Zoom calls. It’s a pretty routine day, like most others, but it always starts and ends with family.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
How much I love music and how much it inspires me to be great. I used to listen and watch Michael Jackson in order to be better than my competitors in tech. Right now, it’s Wanye Morris that I listen to! If you can train your voice to sound exactly the same live as on record then that’s the standard of perfection I chase everyday. That dedication is what will get me in the likes of Facebook, Amazon, and Tesla.
Can you share two of your favorite quotes with us?
“Be careful how you talk to yourself. If you don’t listen to anyone else you will always listen to yourself.”
“I am because we are. And since we are therefore I am.”
If you had the power to change just one thing in the world, what would it be?
I wouldn’t change a thing. I have to thank God for it all. The good, bad, the ugly, great and small. The pain and the tears. I needed all of that to be great in His light.
Student athletes may assume they will receive a scholarship to a university of their choosing to play sports upon high school graduation. The reality is much different than the assumption and SchollyME knows just how difficult the world of high-level university sports is.
Nunnery’s SchollyME app makes it possible for student athletes to get spotted and hopefully, signed to a scholarship. Of course, SchollyME doesn’t ensure a student athlete gets a scholarship to play university sports. But it does make it possible for a teenager to be seen and to attract colleges they would have otherwise never been introduced to.
For more information on Melvin Nunnery and SchollyME, please visit https://schollyme.com
Journalist and author. Contributor