by Chris Krause, NCSA Founder and President
The final piece to the unofficial visit puzzle is actually contacting the school and the coach to arrange a trip to the campus.
You might be reading this as a student-athlete with hopes and dreams of competing in college by winning a college sports scholarship. Or, you might be a parent who wants to see their son or daughter use their talents to help pay for school and continue their athletic career at the next level. Whatever the case, I want you to understand why getting in front of a coach is so important for you: It is your chance to sell the coach on you.
When a coach brings an athlete in for an “official” visit, it is really their chance to focus on selling that athlete on their program. The coach knows that the athlete is someone who they want on their roster, and that coach is going to put their best foot forward in trying to convince that athlete to choose their program.
What is different about the “unofficial” visit? Much of the time, the athlete is the one trying to get the coach’s attention and showing that coach why you should be a serious consideration for a scholarship or opportunity to be a part of the coach’s roster in the years to come. That’s why it is so vital that you be proactive in setting up your own unofficial visit. If you don’t do it, no one will.
So what steps should you take to set up the unofficial visit? Here is what we recommend here at NCSA:
- Call or email the coach. Let the coach know that you intend to visit their campus, and you would like to set up some time to talk with them. Arrange a specific time to meet…don’t just ask if you can “drop by” their office while you’re on campus. You want to make plans to meet at a specific time and place.
- Be direct when talking to the coach. We recommend that you say something like, “Coach, I am in the process of scheduling my unofficial visits and would like to visit your university. Would you be available to meet with me next Saturday or Sunday? And, is there anything you need me to get to you ahead of time?” Keep it simple, and make it your goal to get the meeting time with the coach.
- Send the coach your video highlights. The coach you will be visiting with during your unofficial visit is going to want to see you perform in your sport. The best way to do that is to send them your NCSA Scouting Report that includes your streaming web video that they can view immediately on their computer. If you aren’t a verified NCSA student-athlete, you will want to mail a DVD or VHS tape to the coach in advance of your visit so that they can review it and have some ideas on how you might fit into their program before you come on campus for your visit.
- Set up an admissions office meeting. Part of the process of continuing your academic and athletic career at college is making sure you have everything in order when it comes to being admitted to the college. That is something that the coach will be concerned with, and it’s something that is your responsibility to coordinate while you are on campus. Make sure you sit with someone in the admissions office to review what you will need to give them in order for them to move forward with your application.
As a part of any visit, you may get to take part in a game day visit at the college. This takes place quite often in football, but it is becoming more common in other sports as well. If you are invited to take part in a game day visit, keep in mind that the coaches and athletes are going to be busy preparing for the game. Sometimes, visiting prospects don’t get the same level of attention that you might during a normal campus visit. If that happens, don’t be discouraged or disappointed. And, it’s always a good idea to send a thank you note or email to the coach that you just visited during your unofficial visit.
Remember, this is your chance to get a coach’s attention. You are taking this visit not only to find out more about the school and the sports program, but also to sell yourself to that coach that is letting you visit. If you don’t lose sight of that primary purpose, you just might make a great impression in the mind of that coach and become a prime recruit for his or her program.