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Getting YOU a Scholarship is not Your Coach’s Job!

A successful recruiting process typically involves a collaborative effort from a number of people including coaches, family, friends, and anyone who can provide assistance.   However, ultimately the responsibility for a student athlete’s recruiting success or failure falls directly on the family of the potential recruit.  All too often, families rely on the high school or club coach in the hopes that they will somehow deliver a scholarship.  Unfortunately, this usually results in disappointment.

The vast majority of high school and club coaches have noble intentions when it comes to helping their student athletes with the recruiting process.  In many cases, they can be of meaningful support, but when push comes to shove, they rarely have the type of influence that families expect when it comes to scholarships.

To fully appreciate why some families have the misconception that high school coaches are able to get student athlete’s a scholarship, it is helpful to travel back in time to an age of recruiting where high school coaches actually did have that type of power.  Years ago, high school coaches had a far greater impact on the recruiting process due to a couple of major factors.  Let’s examine those:

The Evaluation

20 years ago, the current technology that allows a college coach to evaluate a large number of prospects through DVDs, or even better yet, streaming video, was non existent.  For the most part, if college coaches wanted to watch a student athlete play, they were forced to travel to a game and watch in-person or visit the high school and watch the film which only the high school coach had access to.  This access forged relationships between the high school coach and college coach that contributed to the current misconception.

Back then, families were unable to send out 50-100 DVDs and videos to college coaches and because of this, the evaluation of the high school coach carried a lot of weight with the college coaching community.  While high school and club coach evaluations are still important, they are no longer required for a college coach to receive an assessment of a student athlete.

It’s a Numbers Game

Along with the advances in technology that have changed college recruiting, many rules and regulations have changed for college coaches which prevent them from doing high school coaches favors.  In the past, when the high school coach played a more significant role, college coaches would occasionally agree to offer an official visit or maybe even a scholarship to a student athlete based on a relationship with the student athlete’s high school coach.  Unfortunately, the number of both scholarships and official visits has been lowered significantly in recent years making them far more valuable.  College coaches can no longer afford to give them away.

As you can see, the landscape of college recruiting 20-30 years ago created an environment in which high school coaches had far more significant authority on scholarships.  This power has diminished in recent years, however the perception has lingered and many families still believe high school coaches and club coaches are able to get them scholarships.  Now that we have examined where the myth began, let’s discuss why it’s unfair to place this pressure on coaches today.

Responsibility

While high school and club coaches might provide guidance and help with the college recruiting process, simply put, it is not their responsibility to get a student athlete recruited.  Their main role is to serve as a teacher, educator, and leader for young student athletes.

Time

College Recruiting is a lot of work.  For the last five weeks, I have discussed the amount of work that has to be done in order for a student athlete to be recruited.  Many families have told us that recruiting is basically the equivalent of a full time job.  The majority of high school coaches actually earn a living from being a full time teacher.  Many are parents and spouses.  To expect the high school coach to handle all the work that goes into recruiting for every single one of their players in addition to their normal responsibilities is both unreasonable and unrealistic.

Money

College Recruiting can be expensive.  NCSA has conducted a number of studies that place the cost of managing and executing a successful recruiting campaign for a family doing it on their own at over $5,000.  How many college coaches have those types of resources for multiple student athletes?

Connections

The average high school coach has less than 5 college coach contacts and most of those are local.  As I pointed out 2 weeks ago, student athletes need to be involved with over 100 college coaches in order to generate the maximum number of opportunities.

It is critical to understand that every high school and club coach has a different level of experience with recruiting.  Some high school coaches might have extensive knowledge of the recruiting process and others might be first year coaches who have never even played college sports themselves.  Next week, I will discuss what you should expect from you high school coach and how you can develop a relationship that will benefit your recruiting process.

About the author
Aaron Sorenson

6 Comments

  • Chris,
    Very informative material. Thanks for bringing me up to date. My high school coach did as you said, and we were also lucky to have professional scouts at many of our HS games. Looking forward to next weeks publishing.

    My daughters HS soccer coach admits to playing the politics card, (told parents this at a meeting)even though the players he promotes do not have the stats to prove they are worthy…ie all conference,etc. I feel this unfortunately takes away from my daughters accomplishments to help her get into a college of her choice.

  • Yes, I agree with the need to ‘take charge’ of your child’s recruiting endeavors. We started with a personal domain, web site and linked email. This has proved very helpful. Starting to make contact beginning as early as their freshman year is a BIG plus. Parents….do it yourself and don’t relay on highschool coaches to know how. We didn’t know how either, but with the help of research, good web sites (like this one) and numerous other avenues, anyone can do this.

  • Doing it yourself is an option but it costs money and time. Most parents and kids don’t have the expertise to pull it off successfully. I’ve heard hundreds of horrror stories from those trying to do things themselves and their child never gets to play in college. Or, worse, they get to play but have $50,000 to $100,000 in student loans to pay off after graduation. Why not plug into a system that has already done the heavy lifting on the research, building the database, are experts in coaching 16 & 17 year old kids, and knows how financial aid works? The return on investment in aggravation avoided, scholarship dollars earned, and peace of mind that every avenue has been pursued is incalculable.

  • I must tell you that the athlete themselves must take the initiative and responsibility to get this ball rolling. My son has several offers from D-1 schools by half way thru his junior football season all because he worked very hard early on. Soon after his sophomore season ended, he put many hours into making his hilight video from game films which the coach loaned to him. He also made labels for all of the DVD’s and a cover for each of the DVD cases. He did this all on his own and it turned out very professionally. He mailed them out to 40 colleges, most of which responded that they received it and will be viewing it shortly. Soon after, his coach started to receive letters of interest from coaches, and as of Sept. 1 of his junior year we started to receive any where from 5-25 letters per day from schools that are very interested in him. That is no exaggeration!! We have a filing cabinet specifically for college letters, all with their own folder. My point is that it is the athlete’s responsibility to take it upon himself to make those initial contacts. The coach is a great support system. His coach has college coaches asking him for his junior hilight film which he just completed, 3 weeks after this season ended. They are in the mail to several colleges already, mostly due to their request! Best wishes to you all!

  • Chris-well said and I wish more people could see this. I think the reason so many families rely (inappropriately) on coaches reflects a fundamental problem with the recruiting process–there is no one in charge.

    In most other competitive situations, the path is clearer. You apply for a job by finding about an opening, and submitting a resume or setting up an interview with a specific person. You apply to college by filling out specific applications and submitting them to an admissions office. With sports recruiting, there is no application process, no registry (other than for academic credentialing)–and no one overseeing it in any official capacity.

    Combine that with a family going through it for the first time and it’s no wonder they look to anyone else to take the reins. But not everyone can afford to hired a service such as NCSA so families continue to try and find advocacy somewhere. My recent book (Put Me In, Coach. www.rightfitpress.com) also makes a strong point about being thankful for any help you get from a coach but not to expect it.

  • Laurie – you mentioned that not everyone can afford hired services like NCSA. I doubt that most families even realize that a lot of families who are involved with NCSA are paying just over $2 per day for world class service. That’s less than you pay for a cup of coffee from Starbucks.

    College recruiting is going to cost money even if you try to do it on your own. Most of the time that families attempt the process on their own, they spend more money than they would if they invested in professional help. Here is the way I look at it: If I wanted to build a deck, I could buy a book and the materials and attempt to build the deck on my own. However, I would MUCH rather just invest in the right professional to build my deck and make sure it looks right and save my time. Maybe that’s just me,