I spent three days around hundreds of top high school athletes who are taking dead aim on competing at the next level on a full or partial ride. As a result, I gathered helpful information to help in the quest to have success in the recruiting process.
NCSA delivered a recruiting education talk at the prestigious New Balance Track and Field Nationals in Greensboro, N.C., to families from around the country and met young people like Griffie Loy (pictured). His abilities in the shot put and the class room have earned the South Carolina native D1 scholarship offers.
I also had the chance to pick the brain of a man who was a D1 coach for thirty six years, including thirty as head coach at Penn. When I wasn’t delivering talks, I had a table to talk with families at the event site. Next to me was Charlie Powell, Director of Track and Field for the Spire Institute. Up until recently, Charlie had been nationally recognized for his head Track and Field coaching at Penn.
“It’s all about creating relationships,” Powell told me when I asked him what is important in recruiting. “Look at it from both ends. The student-athlete wants to know if the school has what they want academically and athletically, and if the coach has a style that they can connect with. On the college coaches end, we all look for a certain type of recruit. When I was a coach at Penn, I wanted a ‘Penn type.’ Will the recruit fit in? Will they have the personality you want? A certain college coach will want a ‘real aggressive’ type kid while another will want the ‘more coachable’ kid.
“The key,” continued Powell, “is to get these to mesh. You cannot do that with just calls and emails. Families need to start early in the process and visit schools and talk on the phone with the coaches. You are looking at something that will be for four years. This is not the case of a guy seeing a girl that he has got to go out with, and then early in the date realizing she is not the one so he ends it. You make the wrong choice in picking your college coach, you’re in trouble.”
As we talked over three days at the Track and Field Nationals, I asked Powell what were the biggest misconceptions he observed in his three decades as a D1 head coach.
“Number one,” said Powell, “is that there is unlimited funds and tons of money. A lot of people think ‘full scholarship’ where in most cases, even in most sports at D1, that is not the case.”
“Another one,” he added, “is that so many think just because a college coach wants a kid that he will be accepted. That has hurt so many. They have a state champion kid or a three-time all conference kid. That doesn’t mean he or she will get in unless they are academically sound. So many times late in 12th grade years kids are freaking out with no place to go because they thought schools would bend. They still have to meed academic criteria.”
“The third misconception,” said Powell, “is so many parents think just because their kid does well that college coaches know about them. I am even talking about kids that are among the best in their state. There’s only so much time in the day for college coaches to learn about all these kids. That’s why you have to be proactive and reach out to coaches. It really bothers me when good athletes say they are not being recruited so they just kind of give up and go to a school as a regular student. It doesn’t have to be that way…”
As top high school athletes and their parents came by my table, which was right next to his table, Powell encouraged them to start their college visits early and to get into the NCSA Athletic Recruiting Network. In his final years as a D1 coach, he used NCSA as one of his trusted sources to build recruiting lists.
“Even those in NCSA have got to make sure they get all their information in their profile,” said Powell. “One very important part is contact information of their high school and club/travel coach. That is huge! If a D1 coach is interested in a sophomore or freshman, they cannot call the kid. But, they can call their coach and let them know their interest in recruiting their athlete. Then the kid can call the D1 coach.”
As I always say when I speak or write on recruiting, it is all about the right fit. Not only did Powell coach D1 for over thirty years, he is also the father of a current D1 soccer player.
“My son grew up dreaming of playing soccer for Penn State,” said Powell. “That was until he went on his visit and found himself sitting in a classroom of 150 kids. He realized right then that a very large school like that was not for him. Part of it was he didn’t trust himself to get his classroom work done in a setting where he could almost disappear in a massive classroom. From that point on he gravitated to smaller D1s like Providence, Rhode Island and Richmond. He signed his scholarship with Richmond.”
I asked Powell to share a special memory of having coached Penn for so long.
“We had a kid from Maine,” he said, “who was on partial scholarship. To make sure he and his brother could get a top education at a school like Penn, his Dad sold his beloved boat. His son that competed for us excelled in the heptathlon and he was dedicated academically. He went on to become a top money stock fund manager. He and his brother then bought their Dad a boat that was twice as big as the one before!”
As we were talking at our table area, an 11th grade track and field standout approached me and asked me a lot of questions about recruiting. He introduced himself, shook my hand, made eye contact, and thanked me for answering his questions. He then went back to find his family.
“That’s a young man that will go places as a college athlete,” Powell told me. “He took the initiative to come down here and ask questions. If he is competing here it means he is good.”
“That’s the kind of kid college coaches want on their team….”
Motivational speaker Charlie Adams is a strong believer in the Athleadership message of NCSA. Adams has a passion for delivering his Stoke the Fire Within peak performance keynotes and seminars, and educating families on the college athletics recruiting process with his presentation ‘How to Connect with Significant Scholarships and the Right Fit at the Next Level.’ Adams covered all levels of college sports recruiting for 23 years as a sports anchor across America, including 16 covering Notre Dame and the Big Ten. His oldest son is currently a NCAA student-athlete