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 college planning experience for student-athletes of all talent levels and ages.
It has happened three times. That’s it. In the history of NCAA Division II women’s basketball, only three teams have ever finished the year undefeated. With an astonishing 35-0 record, Lubbock Christian University, out of the great state of Texas, is the only one of those programs to ever claim the national title in their first season of eligibility. Talk about a grand entrance for Coach Steve Gomez and his Lady Chaps. I’d say LCU’s move from NAIA to NCAA Division II worked out, well, perfectly!
This week, I sat down with Coach Gomez to talk recruiting. Here is what he had to say.
Q: How can a recruit get your attention? How can they get noticed by you and your staff?
A: So much of creating attention for yourself has to do with performance. For us, we pay a lot of attention to what the athletes are doing with their high school team. We truly believe that if a young lady is high quality, a good player and a good kid, we will find them. Like many Division II programs, we have a really firm grasp on knowing the talent in our part of the country. Regionally speaking, if an athlete is performing at a high level, especially freshman and sophomore year, it’s a pretty safe bet to say we are going to know about them. Regardless of where you are from, if you can play, someone is going to notice you and word spreads pretty quickly when it comes to talent.
Q: What is your advice to a recruit, interested in LCU, that you have not yet identified?
A: A great way to let us know you are interested in our program is to have your coach reach out to us, on your behalf. Have them send us an email with a link to some video highlights. The key to expressing interest in our program is making sure it’s personal. So often we have recruiting services send us emails that just come across as mass-mailers. We view those as the junk mail that everyone else is getting. Those generic emails are coming from all over the country and really do nothing for a recruit in terms of getting noticed. If you are wanting to make a good impression on us, you need to have genuine intentions about not only playing for LCU, but also going to school here. It’s simple to start the process of communication with a player that has a real desire to play for us.
Q: Physical talent aside, what does the ideal recruit look like for LCU?
A: Quite simply, it’s the student-athlete that understands how to live sacrificially. We want kids that understand that it’s not all about “me.” For all of us, coaches included, we need to be living for others. We are a proud Christian university and we desire to honor God in how we live and how we play. Our program and our university will not sacrifice what we feel is most important, just because a young woman is a good basketball player. Life is so much more than basketball and if basketball is all that you are living for, you probably won’t get it here.
Q: What is your advice to parents of student-athletes going through the recruiting process?
A: The main thing we always articulate to parents is that they need to help their child make decisions based on what they know, and not on what they don’t know. Too many times kids end up in a college setting where they didn’t realize what they were getting into. It’s easy for a young athlete to get blinded by the glitz and glamour of college recruiting. They simply don’t account for all the details that matter because they are so caught up with the emotion of the situation. I would really encourage parents to gather as much info on the school and the program to get the clearest picture of what their child’s life is going to be like for the next four years. Get on campus and have conversations with the people that are not only involved with the program, but that also make up the university.
Q: What is your advice to student-athletes going through the recruiting process?
A: First of all, take care of your grades from the day you start high school. Not only will that create more opportunities for you at the collegiate level, but it also opens you up to a larger number of scholarship dollars. Don’t forsake excelling in the classroom for your stats and physical performance. I would also tell kids that college coaches are looking for the best athletes they can find. That means that we want well-rounded kids that play other sports than just basketball. Don’t feel like you need to specialize in a sport to have the best opportunity of playing at the next level. That’s not the case. The great majority of college athletes were multi-sport athletes in high school. It’s all about balance. Play on balance and live on balance. Versatility and the ability to do multiple things well translates to a high level of success.
Q: What does it take to win a National Championship?
A: An incredible, blessed convergence of multiple things! We weren’t the most incredibly talented team that just overpowered everyone that we played. It took so many good players that just sold out to each other. We had so many unselfish kids that potentially gave up personal opportunity just to do their part for the for the bigger picture. I know it’s probably overstated, but our group was so unified from the beginning all the way to the end.