Charlie Adams

The High School Coach’s Role in Setting Realistic Expectations

Coaches Role in setting realistic expectations

One of the most important parts of the recruiting process is gaining a realistic evaluation of where you should play.

I got valuable information about this while attending the Indiana Athletic Director’s Conference in Indianapolis. Chris Geesman, retired former Penn High Football Coach, spoke before standing-room-only crowds of A.D.’s at the conference, alongside former Ben Davis Football Coach Dick Dullaghan.

In over three decades as a head football coach, Geesman helped place dozens of athletes in college, from the University of Michigan to Franklin College. And along the way, many of them started out with unrealistic evaluations of where they best fit.

Coaches are there to help students and their families set realistic expectations of their skill level.

“Most kids are a level above, as far as projecting where they realistically can play in college. And most parents are two levels above,” Geesman said. It’s down to coaches to help kids in the recruiting process, Geesman said.

“I told them: ‘I’ll try to place you where you want to play,’” he said. “I would call the college coach and make sure they got tape at whatever program they wanted, which often was Notre Dame, since we were located near them. The athlete’s part of the deal was to listen to every offer, whether it was Grand Valley State, Hillsdale, University of Indianapolis, Findlay or what have you. I’d say: ‘You listen to their coaches while we’re trying to place you at Notre Dame.'”

“About two-thirds of the way through the recruiting process, everything kind of sorted itself out,” he said. “The kid who started out thinking ND would come to me and say, ‘Hey coach, can you get me a visit to Indianapolis?’ I never told him he couldn’t play at Notre Dame. They usually came to the realization that a smaller school might be better.”

During Geesman’s era, there was a definite lack of recruiting education for families. “I think we are starting to see more awareness about the recruiting process now,” said Geesman. “I think a lot of families still don’t understand how good the high level of D3 is in college.”

There is a growing trend in youth sports to specialize in one sport, year-round, but this may not be the best practice.

While in many cases kids specialize because they have a parent hell-bent on them getting an athletic scholarship, you often have the case of an aggressive high school coach who wants kids to focus on their sport alone.

“A kid should never have to choose a sport in high school,” Geesman said. He was a strong proponent on his football players getting involved in other sports. Geesman also strongly encouraged his players to go to school plays, musicals and other extracurricular events to appreciate all the talent at Penn High School. “The world doesn’t revolve around carrying a football,” Geesman said, who was constantly in attendance at such events himself.

Dullaghan agreed with Geesman about athletes not specializing in a sport in high school. He shared the story of a head coach in another sport that told his athletes they would be “11, 6, 4″ kids in that sport. “He meant for eleven months of the year, six days a week, and four hours a day they were to play that sport and not be involved in others,” said Dullaghan, who immediately confronted the coach to tell him his strong feelings on how athletes should be shared, and that coach changed his “sport specialize” tune.

If you would like to know more about what Dullaghan and Geesman as well as their panel of experts do to help athletic departments, you can learn more at Legends Advisory Group.

Motivational speaker Charlie Adams was a sports anchor for 23 years in markets such as New Orleans and South Bend, where he saw many families struggle with the recruiting process because of a lack of education on the subject. For more information you can reach him at or go to

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Charlie Adams