Advice on the Recruiting Process: From One Recruited Athlete to Another
- Start early! The sooner you start the recruiting process the better. Once you have decided that you are interested in playing collegiate sports, start to research different colleges that meet your wants and needs in a school. Remember to think about the size of the student body, location (urban/rural), size of individual classes, courses offered, and financial aid if applicable. Make sure you are looking at athletics AND academics. A good rule to go by: if you were hurt and could not participate in your sport, would you still be happy at that school?
- Make a list. Create a word document that has a list of all the colleges that are of any interest to you. Under the name of the college have the coaches name, coaches e-mail, mascot, and a reason you like the school. This will allow you to have the information from all the schools that interest you in one place. It will also allow you to quickly personalize e-mails to coaches by saying things like, “I am interested in your school because of the business program you have” or signing the letter with “Go (insert mascot here)”. If certain schools do not express any interest back or you decide they are not right for you, then you can simply take them off the list.
- Start contact. Once you have established your list, e-mail each coach. This first e-mail should contain information including who you are, where you go to school, individual stats and honors in that specific sport, and why that specific school interests you. Also, you should ask them to send you any information on their program and ask if there is any evaluation you should fill out (many schools have this online). DON’T FORGET to check the e-mail address and make sure you are sending the e-mail to the right coach.
- Stay in contact. Staying in contact with coaches is one of the most important things in the recruiting process. Even if a coach doesn’t e-mail you back, it does not mean you have to take them off your list right away. Keep e-mailing your schools updates in your athletic and academic career. Also, definitely make sure to e-mail coaches if you are going to summer camps or tournaments that they might attend, making sure to include the team you play for and your number. If you are further along in the process, e-mail the coach (or call if NCAA rules allow you to) and ask how their end of the recruiting is going (are they talking with admissions and so forth).
- Be honest. Coaches appreciate honesty. If a coach contacts you from a school that is not of any interest do not be afraid to kindly tell them that their university or program does not seem like the right fit for you. Don’t forget to thank them for their interest and wish them luck in their next season. Being polite goes a long way.
- Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Asking questions during the recruiting process can be scary, but remember that coaches have been through the recruiting process many times—they have heard practically everything. Important questions to ask as you go deeper into the recruiting process are questions like: Where do I stand on your list of recruits? Is there anyway I can I move up on your recruiting list? Is there anything else I can do to help this process? Will I be receiving a scholarship?
- If possible, visit. If the coach offers you an official visit to the school, take it if you can. On official visits, all expenses should be paid for and there is no harm in checking out a school, even if you don’t think it is for you. If the coach does not offer you a visit, if you can, visit on your own. Admissions in most schools have programs where you can stay with a student who will show you around, giving you an inside view of the school.
- Applying early. Not all schools can offer a scholarship, including the Ivy League and Division III. Also, not all Divison1 programs can offer every one of their athletes money. Keep in mind this does not mean that they can’t provide you with financial aid. With schools like this, your best option is applying early because there is a smaller applicant pool. One of the reasons it is important to start the recruiting process early is that it gives you more time to decide what school is best for you. If you come to this decision early enough, then you can think about applying to the college early decision or early action. Most coaches/schools can give you an idea if you would get in early decision or early action by looking at your transcript and athletic capabilities. If this is something you are considering, make sure to ask the coach about the process.
- Remember, this is YOUR future. During your recruiting process, try to do as much of it as you can on your own. For example, try to draft your e-mails on your own and then have your parents proof read them. Make sure to discuss with your family your individual needs (money or learning issues) and then try to communicate that with the coach. Coaches prefer to deal with the athlete themselves, but there does come a point where the parent should have a conversation.
My name is Fielding Kidd and I am from Atlanta, GA and played varsity lacrosse at Yale University. I want to further assist student athletes in the recruiting process so they have the opportunity to participate in collegiate sports.
If you would rather use a recruiting service to do all the leg work for you then check out a review of the NCSA, (National Collegiate Scouting Association) here.
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