No matter how you think the recruiting process will go, you can bank on encountering many surprises throughout the process. That’s the lesson I learned firsthand as I recently went through the college student athlete recruiting process with my daughter.
What are some other lessons I learned as a parent of a student athlete?
As a prospect, coaches are going to want to know a lot about a student athlete’s accomplishments thus far. The more information you can provide the better. Statistics reflecting performance throughout your club and school career, regardless of the sport, can make the difference between getting your foot in the door and having it shut in your face. Facts are easy to check and can be a great equalizer when coaches are reviewing a lot of quality prospects.
If, like us, you didn’t keep a book of stats, I would recommend that you contact the clubs and programs your child has played for to obtain any records that they may have. You will probably be surprised by how much data and information they have collected.
Every parent wants their child to get into the best possible program and even genuinely believes that their child belongs there. This can make having a realistic perspective about the chances a child will get into a program challenging. By taking a look at rosters and watching game films for teams you are looking at you can get a better sense of what your child may or may not be able to contribute to the team. Be as critical as you can when considering what your child can deliver to the team because the coaches will be, they have to be.
Also, remember that your child is just one of many student athletes that a coach is tracking. According to scholarshipstats.com, there are approximately 420,000 high school volleyball players that are competing for about 5,200 scholarship opportunities. The numbers are similar for any sport, but I recommend that you get to know them for your student athlete’s sport and set your expectations accordingly.
Get help from a professional recruiter or create a Google doc that helps you to keep track of all the colleges that your student athlete is interested in and those that expressed an interest in your child. In the beginning it may seem easy to keep the details of a few colleges in your head, but as the number of colleges reaches 50-100, things start to get a little fuzzy.
And since you definitely want to keep interested coaches current by sending them new videos, more statistics, and just general updates, keeping a list of all communications will help you to avoid leaving a coach out, which could easily result in that coach moving on to focus on another recruit.
Get help from someone like NCSA (who provides help for free if you create an account with them) or another recruiting service to find out all of the colleges that are looking for a player who plays in your student athlete’s position. This cannot be stressed enough because if the college has already expressed a team need, you can then just focus on how well your son or daughter can fill that need for them. This saves an incredible amount of time and narrows down your list of coaches to contact considerably.
Keep in mind that you need to update this list periodically because situations can change due to injuries and other factors.
If one thing surprised me the most during the recruiting process, it was how responsive coaches are when you contact them and present your child as a solution to their need. If your child wants to play at the college level, you can’t simply sit back and wait for coaches to contact you.
Instead, be proactive and contact all of the coaches on your list of potential schools. While it may take one or two (or several more) emails before you hear back from a coach, consistent follow-up emails providing more information about your child is only going to increase your chances of getting a look.
Based upon my experience, if you have done your homework on finding those colleges with a need your son or daughter can fill, you are very likely to get a response from the coach. These coaches want to win and they want to build a great program. If you can demonstrate that you have what they are looking for, of course they will be interested.
Do what you can to make a coach’s decision an easy one. Before you have a phone conversation with a coach, make sure you have your questions (and answers to expected questions like how your child can contribute to the team) prepared in advance, that you have done your research on the team and school and that you have a strong understanding of their team roster and current performance level. By doing this you can have educated conversations and demonstrate your level of seriousness about a school and team.
Some coaches will be completely unprepared to talk to you and may not have even reviewed the stats or videos you have provided to them. They may come off as jerks, but usually this is because they may not want to invest the time in discussing an athlete unless they know you really are interested in playing for them. Unlike you, this isn’t their first time at the recruiting rodeo and you would be shocked by how many prospects have strung coaches along only to take a different offer down the road.
Remember, phone calls and conversations are your best shot at getting to know a coach and whether or not the coach’s style is a good fit for your son or daughter.
This brings me to the final lesson. Be honest throughout the recruiting process. If your son or daughter has a short list of schools he or she is considering, then let those coaches and other interested coaches know where they stand. Since coaches are looking at multiple prospects, they generally will appreciate knowing where your athlete stands.
During the process you’re bound to meet some amazing coaches that you’d give your front teeth to have coach your child, but you’re also like to meet some coaches that you wouldn’t let near your kid with a ten-foot pole. Be honest with yourself and your child about how you feel and take each meeting with each coach as a step in the direction of finding the right fit for your child. And given that it takes an enormous amount of effort to visit campuses and go through the college application process, it’s best not to waste your time, energy and resources on opportunities that you and your child believe will not be a good fit.
The best advice that I received going through this process was from a coach in Iowa. What he said really hit home with both my daughter and I. He said “You should look at the whole college experience before you commit to a school. Set your sport aside for a second and ask yourself if you would go to this college if you weren’t able to play for them. If the answer is no, then keep looking.”
Ken Myers is an Internet entrepreneur and the father of Ashley Myers, a 2015 Middle Hitter for Cinco Ranch High School in Katy, TX. If you have questions or comments you can reach him on Twitter @KenneyMyers.
Do you have a unique perspective on the recruiting process? We’d love to hear from you. Mention us on Twitter @ncsa or leave a comment.