Scouting Academy 5 Year Anniversary

by | Dec 18, 2020

LinkedIn reminded me that The Scouting Academy hit our 5 year anniversary. I wanted to take a minute to explain what that means to me and to thank a great number of people that have created opportunities for so many. 

The Scouting Academy was born from an apprenticeship concept I presented to the Philadelphia Eagles while working there as a Pro Scout. I had worked for five NFL and CFB teams at that stage of my career and the common theme I experienced and heard was that there were no formal training protocols for scouts. People were hired with the belief they could execute operations functions in the short term and hopefully grow into a scout in the future.

My hope was to give people a chance to:

1. Establish whether they truly enjoyed the work of player evaluation;

2. To determine if they were good at player evaluation;

3. Prepare them for career opportunities within professional and college football;

4. Provide professional and college football teams with high quality, trained evaluators

I saw this as a win for all involved. Now instead of working for years to get in with a team, to only then learn how to do this work, people would have the chance to explore it in full ahead of time, preparing themselves for the lifestyle and work and giving employers better candidates.

I’ve been asked many times, “Did you think it would grow this quickly?” The short answer is no.

I was unsure of how those in hiring positions would view a new entity, how they would view the instructors, the curriculum, and most importantly, the alumni. Would they get excited about having a better candidate pool or fight against change believing people should have to take the same path they took into the career field.

I’ve been blown away. As I write this, we’ve had 36 alumni earn NFL opportunities, over 100 earn CFB opportunities. We have 2 alumni in the CFL, 1 as an Arena League GM, and dozens working in data analysis, media analysis or agency.

I firmly believe that while you can lead a horse to water, you cannot make it drink. We provide a curriculum and the support and feedback necessary to help people improve, but that only occurs when the student dives in and works the curriculum, learns from and applies the feedback, and grows in the process. I am so proud of everyone who has done that and where they have gone in the profession is a direct reflection of their work and dedication to improvement.

We’re also just getting started. In 2017 we launched our first Masters class (College Area Scouting), which is running again in this year. In 2018 we launched 2 more Masters classes (CFL Evaluation and College Recruiting) and we have more coming.

The goal is to prepare people for the ‘first 5 years’ of their career, giving them foundational information and deep dives into the workflow of low to mid-level positions in the space. We will continue to work with our alumni, professional and collegiate teams, and our advisory panel to continue to improve our curriculum and give our students the best possible education and platform to launch their careers!

The thank-yous are too many to count.

Alan Dandar and Ryan Zaffer, who built the learning management system and Kyle Kostesich who did the initial design.

Jerry Angelo, Louis Riddick, Matt Sheldon, and John Peterson, whose counsel in the curriculum development has been instrumental.

Our 32 instructors and advisors, who have shared their life’s work with everyone who has entered our classroom and taught all of us so much about the game.

Our students, who work their tails off to improve the evaluation community.

The dozens of personnel directors, head coaches and general managers who have taken time to meet with, interview, and hire our alumni.

Those who support us and share our message throughout the football space.

And most importantly, my wife and children who share me with all those mentioned above and whose support cannot be overstated.

I am so excited about what is to come. We’ve grown and improved over the last 5 years and know that will continue. In watching our alumni, I know that they will play an integral role in shaping the evaluation community moving forward and that kind of impact is humbling. I can’t wait to see everyone getting better!

All the best,

Dan Hatman – Director of Scouting Development