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.
As a college planning resource for student-athletes, we at Playced get asked a ton of questions about the college recruiting process. From questions about when the recruiting process should start, to questions about what schools make sense for any given athlete, we have heard them all. Now, I know the phrase “there is no such thing as a stupid question” and I would normally agree with that statement. But in terms of recruiting, there are actually questions that might just fall into that less-than brilliant category!
Today’s article is our way of keeping every student-athlete from asking those recruiting questions that don’t make a whole lot of sense. How do we do that? Logic, logic and logic. I promise you this; the college recruiting process is not nuclear physics! There really is a simple, rational way to game plan your college career.
Let’s get you recruits thinking about the right things. Here are some logical answers to 3 of the most commonly asked “not-so-smart” questions.
How do I get a college coach to notice me?
This is by far the most frequently-asked question we hear. And really, there are only two answers to this question.
- The easiest way to get a coach to notice you is to have some ability. Listen, if you want to be a college athlete, you have to have some skills. You need to perform well against good competition and you need to perform well when college coaches are watching. Don’t expect to receive scholarship offers if you are sitting on the bench or you keep playing your worst game every time college coaches are in the stands. Let the way you play leave a lasting impression on college coaches. Believe this: college coaches talk and if you make a good impression on one, it won’t be long until others take notice.
- If college coaches are not noticing you, for whatever reason, you have to take matters into your own hands. In other words, you need to do whatever it takes to get in front of coaches at schools that you could actually play for. Whether it is you sending an introductory email to a coach, connecting with a coach on social media, attending a camp or making a phone call, it is your responsibility to get a college coach’s attention. Do not make the excuse that you play at a small school or for the wrong team or your current coach won’t help you. Figure out what needs to be done and do it! If you are not getting noticed, you don’t have any other option!
Does a college coach really want to hear from me?
Yes. I could leave this answer at that single word and it should have just as much impact as some long explanation. Every student-athlete that is going through the recruiting process needs to take 100% ownership of their journey. That means communicating with coaches. I know it may seem scary to you teenage athletes out there that may be a bit intimidated by big, bad, scary college coaches. But the reality of it is, most college coaches are amazing men and women that are in coaching because they want to help you achieve your dreams! For that reason alone, you should feel comfortable introducing yourself and having a conversation.
Look at it this way; if you were a college coach 15-20 years from now, how would you expect a recruit to talk to you? How would you want that recruit to introduce himself/herself? I would assume you would be thrilled to have a respectful young athlete express genuine interest in your program, especially if they could play a little bit! The point is this; you are going to have to talk to coaches during the recruiting process. Why in the world would you be scared to start the conversation when it might be your only option?
What if I reach out to a college coach and they don’t respond or they tell me no?
So what! What if you reach out to a coach and that coach responds, likes what you have to offer and you end up at that college? You have so much more to gain, than you do to lose, by reaching out to a college coach and expressing interest in their program. The real questions you need to answer are: would you rather be ignored by a coach, told no from a coach or would you rather not know what could have been for the rest of your life? Don’t automatically assume the worst possible outcome when putting yourself out there.
Muhammad Ali once said, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” If you have not yet figured it out, life is full of failure, rejection and not getting what you want. But you know what? That is ok. The worst thing you can possibly go through as a college recruit is not knowing what might have been! Take risks, talk to college coaches and don’t be scared of rejection. Remember, if college coaches aren’t banging down your door… You don’t have any other option!