USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities to play at the college level. Jaimie Duffek was one of the top 50 high school softball players in Illinois who went onto play outfield for Drake University. Jaimie is just one of many former college and professional players, college coaches, and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience, and dedication along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation, and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.
If your family only remembers one piece of recruiting advice, it’s this: Student-athletes must proactively reach out to college coaches. We repeat this line so often because many families are under the mistaken impression that college coaches will just “find” their student-athlete. And for most athletes, this isn’t true. The average recruit needs to do the legwork to find the school and coach that matches their academic and athletic needs, or risk slipping through the cracks in the recruiting process.
However, it’s tough coming up with good reasons to reach out to a college coach. There’s only so many times your athlete can tell a coach they’re interested in the coach’s program. We’ve come up with 25 reasons to message a college coach:
- You have a new highlight video to send to the coach
- Your travel/club team just released its schedule, and you want to invite the coach to upcoming games and tournaments
- You want to tell the coach that you will be at their camp, and you’re looking forward to meeting them in person
- You just received a new accolade or recognition that you’d like to tell the coach about, such as all-league, all-region, all-state honors, (also academic recognition)
- You got a new personal best that you’re proud of (assists, bench press, rebounds, etc.)
- You recently got new combine numbers, which reflect that your off-season training has really paid off
- You have your ACT or SAT results to show that you’re academically eligible
- You want to congratulate the coach after one of their athletes received a prestigious award
- You were impressed by a coach’s recent win
- You’d like to schedule an unofficial visit at the school, and want to know the best time to meet with the coach while you’re on campus
- You just applied to the school
- You received a scholarship offer from another school and would like to know if this coach is close to offering before you make your decision
- You just had your best game of the year and want to share the footage with the coach
- You developed a new skill that will make you an even more valuable recruit
- Your team just won a championship
- You’d like the coach’s advice on skills or training to work on
- You have a new reference you want the coach to contact
- You’re emailing the coach to set up a phone call
- You want to know what tournaments they will be attending this summer to see if your schedules align
- You’d like to know what camps, combines and showcases they will be attending so they can watch you compete
- You are congratulating the coach on winning an honor or award
- You received your eligibility stamp of approval from the NCAA Eligibility Center or the NAIA Eligibility Center
- You noticed that the university just won an award and you’d like to congratulate the coach
- You’re visiting the campus and want to confirm your meeting time
- You’d like to know if they need more video in order to better evaluate you as a recruit
How to use this list
Use these reasons as starting points for your athlete’s upcoming communications. For example, if the reason for your athlete’s outreach is to congratulate the coach on a big win:
“I’ve been following your team for a while now, and was really impressed by their performance in the championship game last week—congratulations! I wanted to connect with you because I would love to be part of this competitive team.”
The email started out by showing that your athlete is genuinely interested in the program, has done their research and isn’t just sending out another mass email. Then, the athlete ties the conversation back to their recruiting efforts. This opens it up for the recruit to talk more about their credentials and why they would be a great fit for the team. At the very end, your athlete should always tell the coach how and when they will be in contact next, and make sure they leave their contact information in case the coach wants to reach out.
While this may seem like a lot of work, remember recruiting is a competition, too. Taking the time to put in more effort will give your student-athlete a distinct advantage.