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This Is Exactly What a College Coach Is Thinking About Recruiting

What Coaches think about recruiting
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Recently, a Division I rugby coach at Quinnipiac College wrote an open letter on LinkedIn to reveal all of her reactions to a typical student-athlete interested in joining her roster. As Coach Carlson writes, her letter is “by no means an account of one particular recruit, but rather a series of experiences and personal accounts of many coaches that demonstrate scenarios we can ALL share as professionals in this crazy world of athletic leadership.”

What kind of attitude should college coaches bring to recruiting, and how can coaches get closer to finding a student-athlete who’ll be the right fit for their roster? Coach Carlson has several incredible points for her fellow coaches, and you can read them all on LinkedIn.

How student-athletes can learn from what college coaches think about recruiting?

Below, we’ve highlighted some of our favorite passages and takeaways from Coach Carlson’s letter, which will help any student-athlete prove their worth to college coaches.

Pick up the phone and call college coaches directly

This tip’s for you, parents: Don’t think that you’re fooling college coaches when you write emails or messages for your student-athlete. Coaches can tell the difference. And at a time when so many student-athletes are scared of speaking on the telephone, one of the easiest ways your athlete can differentiate him or herself is by calling that coach directly:

While it took a bit to thumb through the long list of your impressive extracurricular activities, please thank your parents for putting this packet together and understand that it would have been far more beneficial for our staff to speak to you personally by way of an old school phone call.

Coach Carlson goes on to explain that parents need to maintain a supportive role; any time your family is interacting with college coaches, student-athletes need to be in the driver’s seat.

Be a good teammate and leader–or college coaches will notice.

No matter how rough or great a game you’re having, setting yourself apart as a student-athlete who deserves to become part of a college team means that you’re always on: always respectful, always attentive, always cheering on your teammates.

At halftime, the team huddled up and as always when observing recruits, I honed in carefully on your demeanor and body language. I watched you walk in the opposite direction of your teammates and take a seat on the bench away from the group. You did not return to the team circle until prompted by your assistant coach. As the head coach spoke, I observed you break off into a private conversation with another teammate, rather than offering the coach your attention.

You can be the most gifted athlete and still lack the potential to be a college teammate.

So often we get bogged down in worrying if we’re good enough. Does that highlight video show a great form? Is my batting average high enough? Should I have pushed myself a little harder in the last stretch to get a slightly better race time?

But when college coaches are looking at a student-athlete’s potential, they’re not just thinking about potential athleticism. They’re looking at the potential attitude that will be impacting their team:

Your incredible talent is the same talent that in your sophomore year of college will suddenly suffer an ego blow when a new freshman arrives with equal or greater talent. Battling your feeling of ownership over your position and feeling threatened is inevitable. […] Rather than working hard to better your game, you are more likely to be the athlete that is constantly comparing your success to others rather than focusing on growth for yourself. This will become a tedious and exhausting process for your coaches and team to constantly have to reassure you of your self worth and value.

Does this mean that the most talented student-athletes won’t be recruited? Definitely not. But it does mean that coaches are looking at the whole package: how well you play, and how well you stand up for the good of your entire team.


How do you show off your potential to college coaches? You can demonstrate your leadership, courage and positive attitude in a personal statement — while using our tools to find the right college match — in your NCSA account. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

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About the author
Andy McKernan

Andy McKernan is the content strategist at NCSA Athletic Recruiting. A content marketer with a background in creative writing, Andy brings several years of experience to NCSA.