It can be every high school athlete’s dream. A college coach calls. He starts talking about a scholarship. He’s asking a lot of questions. The stakes are high: He holds the key to your academic and athletic future in his hands. This is the time of year when thousands of high school athletes are sitting at home hoping that this scenario plays out on their telephone. The problem, I find, is that most high school athletes are either too intimidated or don’t have enough knowledge about the questions they need to ask about the recruiting process, the school, the program, and the details of the scholarship offer. The result? Often, the coach gets frustrated and doesn’t pursue an athlete. Or, the athlete winds up in a situation that makes them miserable.
When we work with high school athletes at our organization, we give some general outlines as to the questions they are responsible for asking and how to “sell” themselves on a program that is right for them. These ideas are based on input from college coaches, athletes and the NCAA. Follow the plan if you hope to make the recruiting process work for you.
You have to realize that the coach on the other end of the line is just like you, in many respects. He is searching for the best recruit for his team, and needs information from you to determine if you are someone who he’ll want to pursue. What is he or she looking for? Enthusiasm about the opportunity (even if the school he is calling from isn’t your first choice), honesty about your abilities and goals, and your athletic ability. You need to give the coach a chance to tell you why his school would be best for you. I have worked with lots of athletes who end up at a school that wasn’t at the top of their list until the talked with the coach. And, they loved it!
This is the next four to five years of your life. A college coach is very involved on a day-to-day basis with the athletes. Is this the coach that you want to be around on a daily basis? Ask the coach how you are going to fit into his team. What are the playing opportunities? What is the school like? Are academics stressed on the team? What is the graduation rate of your players? The thing to remember is that you need to be aggressive in your questioning. If you are, a coach will view you as interested enough to pursue you. They want you to feel like the situation is a good fit for both parties.
Once you’ve talked with a coach, make it a mission to contact him or her once a week until they make a decision. In effect, turn the tables on them. You become the recruiter! “I like kids that take the initiative and pursue opportunities on their own,” says Charlie Craig, a college track and field coach and 1996 assistant track coach for the U.S. Olympic team. “It can sometimes tell me about their competitive spirit.” Bottom line: Today’s high school athletes need to be taking control of this part of the recruiting process.
Don’t be rude or uninterested during a call from a coach at a school that is at the bottom of your list. You never know, this may the perfect fit for you….or, it could be the only school that makes an offer. The time to tell coaches “no” is after you have already told another school “yes” to their scholarship offer. When you talk with a coach, always be respectful and appreciative of the interest.
Talking with college coaches can be intimidating, there’s no doubt about it. Just remember that recruiting is one of their least favorite things about college coaching. Make their call to you memorable for them in a positive way. Who knows. The result could be a great athletic and academic future at the school of your dreams!
Recruit Collegiate Sports Scouting Inc., a national organization that assists high school athletes creatively and aggressively pursue college athletic scholarships. For more information about Recruit’s services, contact their office at 1-888-284-9227 , or visit their Internet web site at http://www.recruitzone.com.