As you read this, thousands of college coaches are in the midst of their recruiting season, and tens of thousands high school student-athletes are sitting back and hoping that they are one of the chosen few who will receive a college athletic scholarship.
So what’s wrong with this picture? The problem for the majority of student-athletes who are juniors and seniors is that they take a “wait and see” attitude towards being recruited. Maybe they are over-confident once they’ve received a few letters from college coaches, or maybe they just assume that because they are “stars” on the field in their hometown, colleges will be knocking down the door to sign them to a full-ride scholarship. Reality hits in June, when many of these talented athletes are left wondering what happened to all of the anticipated offers.
The solution? I recommend that high school student-athletes take an active and creative role in getting a college coach’s attention. There are several things that can be done that will greatly increase the attention you get from college programs, and could ultimately make the difference between playing athletics in college, or watching from the stands.
Go to your school or club coach and ask them if they have any contacts at colleges. Many high school coaches and athletic directors played college sports, and could be excellent sources for information about getting recruited. Often, your coach is contacted by colleges who are scouting for talented high school athletes. Expressing your interest in playing college athletics could encourage your coach to mention you as a possible college prospect.
It can be intimidating for many high school athletes, but most college coaches are very approachable and interested in hearing from prospective student-athletes. College coaches that I talk to often say that athletes who make the first move in contacting a school are remembered for taking the initiative. Remember, a college coach is looking for someone who wants to be at their school! Most phone numbers to college athletic departments are available in your school’s library or college planning center. Simply ask for a particular department (i.e., basketball, swimming, etc.), and then ask to speak to the coach who handles recruiting for your area. Once you know you’re talking to the right person, simply state your interest in finding out more about scholarship opportunities within their program. By the way, the best time to contact most college coaches is late in the morning or very late in the afternoon.
If you don’t want to call a coach, you can always write! I suggest typing a short introductory letter stating your interest in pursuing an athletic scholarship, include a list or resume of your high school athletic accomplishments, followed by one or two recommendation letters from coaches. This is a good way to get the recruiting process moving in your favor. I would suggest that you send letters to a variety of schools and programs, even a few that you think you might not be immediately interested in attending but are located in a favorable region of the country. Remember, you can always say no if an offer comes along!
There are several types of recruiting services throughout the country, each with a variety of different specialties and marketing methods that can greatly aid in the recruiting process. Basically, these firms perform the tasks of contacting college coaches and leading you through the recruiting process, which can be extremely helpful and save you a lot of time. Most services charge some type of fee, so do your homework and make sure you know exactly what an individual company will provide in the way of services.
This is getting to be a popular option, provided that you have an e-mail address and the coach you are interested in contacting is computer-savvy as well. E-mail communication worked for Molly Watson, a 5-4 guard who basically e-mailed her way to a Division I basketball scholarship at DePaul University. DePaul’s head women’s basketball coach, Doug Bruno, said that Watson was his most persistent recruit ever, and he was able to correspond and field a lot of questions from Molly about his program and DePaul University. Bruno said that he had a 2-inch thick file of e-mail printouts from Watson and her parents. “It’s not quite ‘War and Peace,” said Bruno, “but it’s not a novella either.” E-mail is getting to be a more accepted form of communication. If you have access to it, you can use it to your advantage by communicating with the college coach of your choice. Currently, you may have trouble finding an individual coach’s e-mail address in any college directory. However, you might want to try and log-on to a college’s website address and look for programs in the athletic department. Often, you can find a list of coaches who are ready to communicate via e-mail!
This is an extremely effective way of getting a coach’s attention and showing your athletic skills to a coach who has never seen you before. The main drawback is that it can also be very expensive. Video tapes aren’t cheap, and neither are the mailing costs once you are ready to send them out to colleges. However, it is an option to consider, especially if you have lots of video footage that really showcases your talent and abilities. You might also want to remember that a college coach will probably want to see a video at some point in the future in order to evaluate your talent, which means you’ll need to put together some sort of highlight video anyway. It’s a creative way to get a coach’s attention, and it shows that you’re dedicated to finding an opportunity to play college sports.
Many college athletic programs offer summer or season camps for high school athletes. A great way to get “discovered” by a college coach is to attend a camp at a college you might be interested in pursuing. That way, not only does a coach get a chance to look at your talent in action, but you also get the chance to see the college’s coaching staff working with athletes. It’s a great way to see if they would be coaches that you would want to play for in college. “Many of the kids we recruit are kids that we have seen at a camp at some point during their high school careers,” noted Pepperdine University assistant men’s basketball coach Kenny Ammann. There are also camps that are not affiliated with any particular school, but are regional camps designed to expose athletes to college coaches who can attend and see dozens or hundreds of potential college prospects in one location. Your high school or club coach would be a good source for regional camps available in your sport. Or, contact a college program for their camp enrollment information.
There are only a few sports that offer year-around club teams: Softball, volleyball, swimming, soccer and baseball, to name a few. Club sports can be expensive, but if you have the opportunity to participate with a club team, I highly recommend it. Many college coaches, especially men’s and women’s college soccer coaches, rely heavily upon scouting club teams for athletic talent. Why? Because club players are often considered more dedicated to the sport (due to the year-around schedule) and are more talented due to their constant involvement with the sport. If you participate with a club team, not only do you become a better athlete, but you might get increased exposure to college coaches looking for the best athletic talent.
Remember, the name of the game is getting noticed. More and more, today’s high school athlete needs to look at recruiting as a real competition for a college coach’s attention and scholarship money.
My advice to all high school athletes is to take charge of your athletic future by actively pursuing college athletic opportunities. Be persistent, and be creative. The result just might be a college education and the continuation of your athletic career.
If you have questions about the recruiting process, contact Recruit, Inc. at 1-888-284-9227