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 identifies appropriate colleges for potential recruits and delivers an online DIY college planning experience for student athletes of all talent levels and ages.
Select sports are big business in this country. If you don’t believe me, just ask any youth athlete, high school athlete or their parent to name the top teams in their state… I would be willing to bet that most of them could name the top 5, at the very least. As select sports get bigger and bigger, it is important for parents and athletes to understand the role they play in the college recruiting process.
Recently we sat down with Cade Griffis, CEO of D-BAT Sports, and head of one of the most successful select-baseball organizations in the country, D-BAT. His refreshing insights should get parents and athletes, alike, thinking logically and about select teams and what their expectations should be.
Q: What is the role of a select/club coach in the college recruiting process?
A: Being a coach can be one of the most rewarding professions, especially when you are helping athletes and families with the college recruiting process. I do think parents and athletes need to understand that a good coach is not only dealing with you, but with every other athlete on the team. That can make for a lot of work. It is the coach’s job to support and facilitate each recruit throughout the process. It is not a coach’s job to own the process for any of their athletes. Each recruit should develop a suitable list of the top 10 colleges that they would like to target. From that list, the athlete should contact the coaches at those colleges and the select coach should support with a follow-up email or phone call. A good coach is used as a reference throughout the recruiting experience for each athlete.
Q: What is biggest challenge in dealing with parents and athletes in the recruiting process?
A: Often times, when the first player on a team makes a college commitment, panic sets in for the recruits that haven’t signed, yet. Parents and athletes have to understand that patience is key, when it comes to college recruiting. There is only so much you can do as an athlete or a parent to make the process work. College recruiters want to see a “wow” factor on the kids they make early offers to. If they don’t see it, they will take time to process as many athletes as possible before making the proper decision for their team. As an athlete, put yourself in a position to be seen and heard by as many colleges that realistically fit your abilities. That is ultimately what you can control.
Q: What advice would you have for those parents and recruits in picking a select club/organization to play for?
A: From a team standpoint, leadership is a major component. Parents and recruits should feel very comfortable with the coaching staff on their particular team. A good coaching staff creates a positive environment for everyone involved. The goal in picking a successful select team is not necessarily winning championships. It is about playing time, getting better and having a great overall experience.
From an organizational standpoint, legacy and tradition should mean a good deal when picking which one to play for. To better understand that, parents and recruits should know how college recruiters work. Naturally, they are going to gravitate to the organizations that have the most amount of talent and a track record of producing college athletes. Typically speaking, an established organization has a much easier time getting into the big tournaments and consistently playing in front of the right audiences.
Q: Why have private lessons become so popular with athletes?
A: I think that really goes back to the limited time on a high school or select coach’s schedule. The point of a private lesson is to provide valuable feedback on a particular athlete’s skill set. It is a chance for that athlete to not only work more reps, but to get better at their craft. I think most coaches are looking to accomplish team goals at practice and just do not have the time it requires for personal player attention. I think it is important for parents and athletes to understand that private lessons should be a nice complement to a weekly practice regimen. They should not be viewed as a quick-fix to a slump!