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 Playced.com. This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. 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.
She loves the game of softball. She loves her program. She loves her school and she loves being a coach. She’s already a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Hall of Fame. And, as of May 29th, she’s now a National Champion. She’s Lori Meyer, legendary head softball coach of the Minnesota State University Mavericks.
This week, I had the great honor of sitting down with Coach Meyer to talk college recruiting. From communicating with coaches, to standing out against your competition, here is Coach Meyer’s advice to high school recruits, everywhere.
Q: When you’re out recruiting and watching games, what catches your eye about a player?
A: It’s pretty easy to walk into a ballpark and see an athlete right away. When a player has that athleticism, everybody’s going to notice them. So I wouldn’t say it’s the athleticism that draws us into a player, because that’s a given.
What I’m really interested in would be the things that go beyond your physical abilities. Are you a good teammate? How do you respond to umpires? How do you respond to your coaches, opponents or even your parents in between games? How you handle real situations within the grind of the game speaks volumes about you, more so than how good of a softball player you are. Softball is a game a failure and guess what, life isn’t always easy either!
So, when I see a player that’s mature enough to handle whatever’s put in front of them, I’m taking notice. I’d rather have an athlete with a little less talent, who understands how to treat others, than a more talented athlete who doesn’t. That’s an easy choice to make.
Q: Give some advice to recruits when emailing a college coach.
A: When you’re reaching out to us via email, make sure that you’re the one writing the email, not mom and dad, or anyone else for that matter. We want to know that you want to play for us because we’re recruiting you, not your parents! I would also say that you need to be clear on why you’re interested in Minnesota State. And that’s not just from a softball point of view.
When I read an email that’s addressed to me and I see the name of another school within the body of the same email, it’s pretty evident that all the prospect’s doing is copy/pasting. You’d be surprised how much that happens and quite frankly, I just delete those. If that’s the amount of effort you’re putting into Minnesota State and our softball program, why would you expect us to take you seriously? All it shows us is that you’re mass-marketing yourself and you’re willing to accept anything that comes your way.
We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of success in my time here. Much of that has to do with bringing in the kids that want to be here.
Q: When reaching out to you or your staff, is there anything a recruit can do to stand out?
A: Something I tell the kids that attend one of our prospect camps is that sending a hand-written letter really catches my eye. Go back to the hand-written letter! It’s such an easy, effective way to show us that you’re unique. If you’re willing to put your thoughts down on paper and send us a letter, that tells us that you pay attention to detail, you’re going the extra mile and you want our attention.
Listen, I don’t think parents and prospective recruits understand just how many emails we get each and every day. We could literally spend all day going through and replying to all of them. With all of the recruiting services out there now sending emails on behalf of kids, it becomes very difficult to know what’s real and what’s not. I would encourage recruits to get focused on schools that they’re sincerely interested in. By doing so, we can take you seriously and get to a decision that’s best for you.
Q: What red flags do you pay attention to when recruiting a student-athlete?
A: Lack of hustle. Laziness. I want hard workers that are all about the team. This is a team game. The NCAA didn’t call us up at the end of the year asking us to bring just our starting shortstop or centerfielder to the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA called us up and invited Minnesota State University, our team, to the NCAA Tournament. If a prospective recruit is all about “me” and what “I” did rather than what the team did, that’s going to turn us off a pretty quickly. This program doesn’t have room for prima donnas. If mom or dad is carrying your bat bags around the park while you’re staring at your phone, we won’t waste our time recruiting you. Because that’s not how it works at this level.
Q: What advice do you have for parents of student-athletes going through the recruiting process?
A: This is a two-way street. As much as the schools are recruiting your son or daughter, you should also be recruiting the schools. Find a school that’s a good fit both academically and athletically. If your child was to suffer a career-ending injury, would they still be comfortable continuing their academic career on campus, ultimately to get a degree. Isn’t that what it’s all about, anyway? Help your child to make the best decision as a student-athlete, not just as an athlete.
I truly believe there’s a school out there for everyone, regardless of the level because every level is great! When you graduate as a student-athlete and move on with the rest of your life, the level you played at makes no difference. You were a college athlete, period.