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.
Last month, Stuart Gore led his Northwestern Ohio (NAIA) women’s soccer program to their first national championship in school history. Let me clarify what I mean by history… This program has only been around for 4 years. In other words, Coach Gore is making good time! And with an international flavor to his roster, it’s safe to say he is leaving no stones unturned when it comes to recruiting.
This week, I sat down with Coach Gore to pick his brain on the college recruiting process. Here is what he had to say.
Q: How can a recruit get your attention?
A: We get roughly one hundred emails each day from prospective student-athletes. The majority of those are the standard, regurgitated email where my name has been filled out at the top and I can tell it is being sent to every other coach in the country. Those just get deleted. There’s nothing personal to those emails. The same way a recruit would want a personal email from me is why I want a personal email from them. I want to see that they can identify with our program. For instance, if I get an email from a recruit highlighting one of our potential roster needs in the coming year, I am going to pay attention to that. That means they have done their homework and they can really envision themselves being a part of our program.
Q: Any advice on how a recruit can have an effective conversation with a college coach?
A: If you are going to talk to a coach, prepare yourself. Write some notes down on the things you want to touch on and have an idea of what you are looking to accomplish with each conversation. It’s like giving a speech. Not many people can just get up and give a speech, off the cuff, with no notes. Most people write down bullet points so that they have something to refer to, so they can keep the conversation flowing. It’s a matter of preparation. Take the 30-minutes necessary to get ready and get your thoughts together. Each conversation you have throughout your recruiting period can really make or break the offers you get. That kind of preparation shows a level of maturity and is absolutely a competitive advantage against other recruits that don’t take the time to prepare.
Q: Physical talent aside, what does the ideal recruit look like for your program?
A: For us, it’s all about the team. We are only interested in student-athletes that are willing to be exceptional teammates, on and off the field. You have got to be thinking about your teammates first, and you second. Be the senior that’s willing to show the new freshmen how things work. Create a bond with your teammates that goes beyond your recruiting class. Additionally, you have got to be ready to work. Everybody wants to start, I get that. But, you got to have the “nothing is guaranteed” mentality. Entitlement doesn’t work at this level. If you aren’t willing to compete for your job, day-in-and-day-out, you are going to have a tough go at it.
Q: Talk to me about the NAIA, versus the NCAA?
A: Listen, I certainly understand the lure of wanting to become a NCAA Division I athlete. It’s kind of a trained thought that today’s athletes need to strive for those perceived elite programs because it will somehow validate them as a person, and as an athlete. It’s hard not to think that way because we see those programs on TV and we hear about them on a regular basis. But I think once you get past all of that, it really does boil down to what the individual athlete wants. Are you okay with sitting on the bench for a Division I team that wins three games a year or would you rather start for a NAIA team that competes for a national championship, year-in-and-year-out? Those types of questions can only be answered by the athlete, and every athlete is different. Don’t get caught up in NCAA or NAIA. Concern yourself with where you will be able to get the best education and where you will have the best playing experience.
Q: What does it take to win a National Championship?
A: Extremely hard work. It takes some luck. And it takes a tremendous amount of perseverance. We push our ladies, every single day. Yes, the goal is to always win a national championship. But we really put our daily focus on unattainable perfection, every minute of every practice. I tell our girls to go 5,000 MPH in practice, so when the game is going 100 MPH, they can deal with the pressure of any given game, especially the national tournament games.