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The Scholar-Athletes of Mission High

A daily look inside the ASAP office

 Inside an office next to Mission High School’s main basketball gym, a group of counselors confer with students. What summer program should they attend? What classes should they take? What scholarships should they pursue?

It’s the Athletic Scholars Advancement Program, better known as ASAP. It’s an organization popular among Mission High students — and one that is unusual in the level of attention it gives to making sure that its student athletes pay attention to their academic futures.

The office counsels, mentors and tutors kids. “They help you with everything. They’ll get you to any place you want,” said Mission sophomore Francis Law. “All you have to do is be a student athlete.”

Tina Shauf, an ASAP administrator, added, “We try our best in encouraging student athletes here at Mission High School to consider going on to and through college. We provide resources to make that happen.”

Scott Kennedy, Mission’s athletic director, got the project started when he used his own credit card to send 13 students to a soccer camp. Gwen Knapp at the San Francisco Chronicle wrote about Kennedy’s work, and one of the people who read Knapp’s article was Judy Grossman.

Grossman wanted to help — with donations, raising funds and working with the students. “The program really took off from there,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy and Grossman decided it wasn’t just about sending kids to a soccer, football or basketball camp, but about sending athletes to college. The group went from just a small group of soccer players to 250 athletes — more than a fourth of the estimated 900 students who attend Mission High.

“The focus is to create a college-going culture,” said Grossman. As she spoke, another student walked up, and she turned back to her computer to help with yet another application.