The following is a post by Lisa Strasman, our President & COO, who regularly contributes to the blog. Lisa played hockey for four years at Yale, where she was team captain, before playing professionally in Switzerland.
By all definitions I was a successful college recruit. My Yale degree and varsity plaque hang on the wall as evidence. What most people don’t realize is how many mistakes I made which nearly changed the outcome of not only my recruiting process, but my life.
First Mistake: My dad wrote my letters.
I am very fortunate to have amazing parents who supported my quest to play college hockey in every way possible. My dad schlepped me around the country to exposure camps, researched schools, and organized and paid for my applications. I never could have navigated the recruiting process without my dad’s assistance, but I should not have let him ghost write my letters to coaches. The process for how to get recruited was a bit different back then -snail mail and VHS – but the point is the same. College coaches want to communicate directly with recruits. Just like with homework, parents should help but not do.
“Coaches want to communicate directly with recruits. Parents should help — not do it for athletes.” Tweet this!
Second Mistake: I nearly sold myself short.
I was a smart kid with great grades and test scores, but I did not have “Ivy League” marks. The college counselor at my high school told me I was delusional to be applying to such elite universities and should refocus my efforts on lower tier schools. Thank god I was strong enough not to listen to her.
Third Mistake: I had no idea how to evaluate colleges.
When I took my unofficial and official visits I had no evaluation strategy. On the unofficial visits my dad and I would walk around campus with stops at the book store and rink. On my official visits I had no specific questions to ask and put far too much emphasis on the weekend’s social experience.
“Have specific questions about the school–beyond the social experience–to ask on your official visits.” Tweet this!
Social life is a huge element of college and I was not wrong to consider it as a top factor in my decision, however there are so many variables when you visit a school such as seasonality and who you stay with, that I was naïve to.
Fourth mistake: I was incredibly stressed.
Playing Division I hockey at the best school possible was my dream, and the thought of falling short or not finding the perfect fit literally made me sick. Because I was not sure what schools I had a realistic chance at or anyone with experience to help coach me through the process, I was completely overwhelmed, which rubbed off on my family. The stress of the college recruiting process caused side effects that affected my senior year of high school. In the end it was all worth it, but I sure wish I could have enjoyed the experience a bit more.
In hindsight, my college recruiting process had a remarkable outcome and I am truly fortunate to have been a Yale Bulldog. I share my mistakes with the hope that future college recruits are better prepared for the long and winding journey that is recruiting.
NCSA Athletic Recruiting’s scouts can help you with your personal recruiting journey so you can avoid mistakes like Lisa describes, and more. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.