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The Path to Playing College Sports



If you want to play a sport while you earn a top notch college degree, this event is for you. 

Join us for an enlightening discussion that examines every aspect of the process that leads to playing a sport at an academically competitive college or university. Open to high school athletes and parents, coaches, and college counselors. There is no fee but space is limited and RSVP is required.

We’ve assembled a fantastic panel of experts who will provide honest, thoughtful advice and answer all of your specific questions. Each panelist is at least doubly or triply qualified to speak on this topic, offering first-hand wisdom from the perspectives of:

  • the college admissions officer
  • the athletic admissions liaison
  • the college coach
  • the recruiter
  • the college counselor
  • the testing expert
  • the parent of a student-athlete
  • and, the college athlete

This event is co-hosted by Compass Education Group and The Headfirst Companies and will be moderated by Compass’s founder, Bruce Reed. We will hold this symposium twice, so please register for the one that works best for your schedule and location.


DATE: Wednesday, March 4, 2020
7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Grand Hyatt at SFO
55 South McDonnell Road
San Francisco, CA 94128


DATE: Thursday, March 5, 2020
7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Berkeley City Club
2315 Durant Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704


Bruce Reed (Co-host & Moderator)
Compass Education Group
  • Nationally recognized test preparation expert and testing researcher
  • Freelance higher ed writer, published in Time Magazine & The Washington Post
  • TeamSnap Advisory Board member
  • Former High School baseball coach
  • Graduate of Colby College
  • Father of a college bound student-athlete


Bruce is recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts on standardized testing research and higher education trends, and is a frequently requested guest speaker on the topic of college admission testing.  A popular freelance writer, Bruce has covered this topic for Time Magazine and The Washington Post. He gives insightful presentations at dozens of schools across the country each year and at regional and national college counseling conferences.  In 2004, Bruce co-founded Compass Education Group, an in-home tutoring company that provides one-on-one test preparation for students from the most educationally demanding schools in the country. In the sports realm, Bruce serves on the Advisory Board of TeamSnap, Inc., the #1 app for team & league management and communication. A former HS baseball coach, he was a featured speaker at the 2019 American Baseball Coaches Association Annual Conference. Bruce lives in Marin County with his wife and their two kids, including a college-bound student athlete.

Brendan Sullivan (Co-host)
Founder & President
The Headfirst Companies
  • Owns Headfirst Honor Roll Camps, the nation’s top baseball & softball “academic” showcase events
  • Played Division I baseball at Stanford University
  • Drafted by the San Diego Padres
  • Played 5 years of professional minor league baseball, through Triple-A
  • Development Chair and Co-Chair of Strategic Planning, St. Albans School, Washington DC
  • Graduate of Stanford University
Brendan is the Founder and President of The Headfirst Companies, which he started in Washington, DC in 1996. Today, Headfirst operates camps, events and performance tours across the country and around the world with the mission of developing and inspiring the personal best in children and young adults. 2020 will be Headfirst’s 24th year running the nation’s top baseball and softball showcase camps for high school student-athletes aspiring to play for elite colleges & universities. Brendan attended and played baseball at Stanford University, graduating in three years before being drafted by the San Diego Padres, with whom he played for 5 years in the minor leagues, through Triple-A. He currently serves on the Governing Board of St. Albans School where he is Development Chair and Co-Chair of the current Strategic Planning process.
Martin Bonilla
Director of College Counseling
The College Preparatory School
  • 27 years of college counseling experience
  • Former Senior Regional Director of Admissions at UPenn
  • Former chair of Student Athlete recruitment for 32 varsity sports at UPenn
  • Resident faculty member for the Harvard Summer Institute on College Admissions
  • Graduate of The Wharton School of UPenn and a first-generation college student
Martin is a nationally-recognized leader in college admissions with 27 years of experience counseling thousands of students and families at three nationally-ranked high schools across the United States. In July of 2006, Martin assumed the duties of Director of College Counseling at The College Preparatory School in Oakland, CA. From 2002-2006, Martin served as Director of College Counseling at the Ransom Everglades School in Miami. Prior to arriving in Miami, Martin was the Director of College Counseling at the Saint Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas. He previously spent eight years as Senior Regional Director of Admission at the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, his duties included chairing the admission selection committee, and the recruitment of international students and multicultural students, as well as serving as the chair of the recruitment of student-athletes for all 32 varsity sports. Martin is a resident faculty member for the Harvard Summer Institute on College Admission, an annual program organized jointly by Harvard University and The College Board. At Harvard, Martin presents and moderates sessions for fellow professionals on early decision/action programs, selecting a college in a highly competitive climate, and working effectively with the diversity of individuals in our communities. Martin is a 1991 graduate of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a first-generation college student. He was born and raised in Los Angeles and is bilingual in Spanish and English. 
Michael Lewis (Thursday night only)
Award Winning Author
  • Author of The Blind Side, Moneyball, Coach, and many other NYT bestsellers
  • Contributor to Sports Illustrated, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Slate and others
  • Producer of segments for Nightline, This American Life, and the BBC
  • Columnist for Bloomberg Opinion
  • Graduate of Princeton University and the London School of Economics
  • Father of a college bound student-athlete
Michael is a NYT bestselling author of books such as The Fifth Risk, The Undoing Project, Flash Boys, and The Blind Side. He also wrote Moneyball, a book ostensibly about baseball but also about the way markets value people. Both of his books about sports became movies, nominated for Academy Awards, as did his book about the 2008 financial crisis, The Big Short. His other works include Boomerang; The New New Thing, about Silicon Valley during the Internet boom; Coach, about the transformative powers of his own high school baseball coach; Losers, about the 1996 Presidential campaign; and Liar’s Poker, a Wall Street story based in part on his own experience working as a bond salesman for Salomon Brothers. Michael is a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion and a contributing writer to Audible. His articles have also appeared in Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Gourmet, Slate, Sports Illustrated, Foreign Affairs, and Poetry Magazine. He has filmed and narrated short pieces for ABC-TV’s “Nightline,” created and presented a four-part documentary on the social consequences of the internet for the British Broadcasting Corporation, and recorded stories for the American public radio show, This American Life. Michael holds a bachelor’s degree in art history from Princeton and a master’s degree in economics from the London School of Economics. He lives in Berkeley with his wife and their three children, including a college bound student-athlete. In 2009 he published Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood, about his attempts to raise them.
Jennifer (JT) Thomas
Coach, Recruiting Expert,
Private Counselor
  • Coached UC Berkeley women’s soccer team for 11 years
  • Played Division I soccer at UC Berkeley
  • Former chair of NACAC Student Athlete Advisory Committee
  • Director of College Counseling at Maybeck for 10 years
  • Former Athletic Director, high school coach, and teacher
  • Graduate of UC Berkeley and Stanford University
  • Current coach of her son’s U19 National Premier League team
  • Works privately with families to help student-athletes find their right fit
  • Parent of a college bound student-athlete

JT played Division I soccer at UC Berkeley where she earned an NCAA Final Four appearance and received a B.A. in Political Economy of Industrial Societies, emphasizing Women’s Rights and the Economy. She went on to earn her M.A. in Education at Stanford, teach high school social studies, coach high school soccer, and oversee 27 sports teams as her school’s Athletic Director. JT returned to Cal to coach for eleven seasons and worked as a television commentator for the women’s professional soccer league. She holds a US Soccer Federation “A” License and has worked extensively with the Olympic Development Program. JT holds a Certificate in College Advising from UC Berkeley Extension and spent ten years as the Director of College Counseling at Maybeck High School. She is recognized nationally as an expert in college athletics as she chaired the NACAC Student Athlete Advisory Committee which partners with the NCAA to help student athletes and their families through the college search process. Currently, JT coaches her son’s U19 National Premier League team in addition and works with families privately to help student athletes find their right fit.


    The Compass Resource Center

    Download the latest version of…

    The Compass Guide to College Admission Testing

    …in our comprehensive Resource Center. Get answers to the most important questions, including:

    • How competitive are your test scores?
    • What is the most effective calendar for testing?
    • What are the implications of ‘test optional’ policies?
    • How do the SAT and ACT compare?
    • How do you interpret PSAT scores?
    • Should you take SAT Subject Tests?