USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from Fred Bastie, the owner and founder of Playced.com. Playced.com is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and provides a recruiting system that is second to none for student athletes of all talent levels and ages.
For a senior in high school, the process of selecting the right college can be an overwhelming endeavor. Then, if you throw trying to play a sport into the equation, it can become a frustrating, confusing, and time-consuming process. Which schools are right for me? How will the coaches find me? Should I use a recruiting service? For a student-athlete it seems like there are more questions than there are answers. Simply put, student-athletes can use all the help they can get.
Three of your best resources for help are very accessible and are probably anxious to help: Your parents, your coaches, and you. Ask your parents and your coach for help, but keep in mind they each have a role in the process and they need to understand their role. Then, quit pretending you want to play at the next level and help yourself. Here is what I believe are the appropriate roles for each of these “recruiting resources”:
Your Parents’ Role
Parents’ involvement in the recruiting process can be extremely helpful, but their role should be limited. College coaches don’t want to hear from parents and parents need to understand that they are not the one who will be on the team. Parents should be there for support, to encourage and to fill the role of College Recruiting Administrative Assistant. That’s right! Parents should be the assistant, not the boss.
Here is a list of things I believe an administrative assistant can do for their student-athlete in the recruiting process:
- Help organize the process
- Keep the athlete focused and on track
- Help develop a college recruiting timeline
- Help their athlete to be realistic
- Give input on the college budget
- Proofread emails and correspondence (don’t edit, just make suggestions)
- Be available to listen
All of the above tasks are critical and will help tremendously, but the most important thing a parent can do to help their athlete in the recruiting process is to be there for support and advice. Parents need to be involved, but they shouldn’t try to try run the process. In fact, it’s downright irritating when a parent tries to run the process, but it’s encouraging when they are supportive and available to help.
Your coach’s role
Here is the definition of the word COACH from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
- a person who teaches and trains an athlete or performer,
- a person who teaches and trains the members of a sports team and makes decisions about how the team plays during games
The definition doesn’t include “a person who is responsible for locating and securing a college scholarship for his or her athletes.” Student-athletes need to understand that it’s not your coach’s job to find you a college home.
That being said, coaches can make a tremendous impact on an athlete’s search for a scholarship. They are the most credible source to vouch for the athlete’s abilities and character. If a coach is willing to vouch for you, that speaks volumes on how they feel about you as a person and an athlete. Unfortunately, not all coaches are comfortable in that role. Some don’t have the time and some just don’t have the experience in recruiting. Most coaches really do want to help, so if you make it easy for them, they probably will. Here are some ideas of how your coach can help with a minimal investment of their time:
- Provide you with a realistic evaluation of your abilities
- Help you develop a list of realistic schools
- Reach out to college coaches at the programs in which you have the most interest
- Write a letter of recommendation
If your coach is willing to do any of the above, you’re ahead of the game. To the extent you can, you should make their involvement easy. Provide them with your recruiting resume. Give them the contact information for the coaches at the colleges you have the most interest in. And most importantly, don’t ask them to contact colleges that don’t make sense for your abilities.
I am a firm believer that YOU are your best recruiting resource. There is no one better to pick your college home than you. Don’t expect your parents to take care of it for you, don’t ask your coach to find your college, and you don’t have to hire a personal recruiting “scout”. In a college coach’s eyes, if you hand off your recruiting process to a third party, you will appear lazy, entitled and/or disinterested. Wouldn’t you rather do it yourself and be considered assertive, confident and/or motivated?
Think about it this way, at some point you will have to talk to the coaching staff at the colleges who are interested in you. It will make a much better impression if you took the initiative to make first contact. Take the time to fill out the recruiting questionnaires on college websites. Research the programs you are most interested in. Then be creative and strategic when you reach out to the coaches.
Here’s the deal
With homework, practice, games, and school functions, many student-athletes have a hard time finding the time to work the college recruiting process by themselves. You should take all the help you can get; as long as everyone knows their role.