Recruiting Column: A Parent’s Guide to College Recruiting

Photo: Danielle Peterson/Statesman Journal

Recruiting Column: A Parent’s Guide to College Recruiting

High School Sports

Recruiting Column: A Parent’s Guide to College Recruiting


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 This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. 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.

A child’s success or lack of success in sports has very little to do with parenting skills. But, having an athlete who is coachable, respectful, a great teammate, resilient, and who always tries his or her best is a direct reflection on his or her parents.

In a nutshell, your kid has a much better chance of being recruited if you, the parent, focuses on all of that. Here are some quick thoughts to consider for all you parents lucky enough to have a child going through the recruiting process.

Coaches are watching you

Believe it or not, college coaches are paying attention to and evaluating the parents of every one of their recruits. Simply put, they will avoid certain types of parents, if at all possible. In fact, a parent’s actions and behavior absolutely influences a college coach’s attitude about recruiting any given student-athlete.

Northwestern’s football coach Pat Fitzgerald had this to say: “An increasingly larger part of the evaluation of a prospect, for us, is evaluating the parents. It’s a big part of the evaluation.

We have and probably will more so, and it’s a private deal – I’m not going to share who and where – but when we talk about our fit, we’re evaluating the parents, too. And if the parents don’t fit, then we might punt on the player and not end up offering him a scholarship.”

Newsflash — Coach Fitzgerald is not alone thinking this way. So, parents need to understand that their actions and behavior at games or in meetings can make a difference. Parents need to be involved in the process, but they need to know their role.

Be available to listen, provide support, but don’t try to run the show.

What you want to matter, doesn’t

There’s a reason that college coaches request game film and not statistics when they evaluate a potential student athlete. Just because an athlete scores 20 points per game, runs for 1,800 yards or hits .360 doesn’t mean he or she is good enough to play at the next level.

College coaches need to see game film and get their eyeballs on a recruit to really be able to determine if an athlete has what it takes. They want to see a kid’s athleticism, how they move, how they react to adversity, how they compete and how he or she responds to a mistake. They also need to understand the level of competition they’re up against. Unfortunately, statistics don’t reveal those factors.

You aren’t the one getting a roster spot

College coaches evaluate a student-athlete’s personality, work-ethic and character just as much as their athletic abilities. They want to recruit someone who is going to be the right fit for their program and who is coachable. The best way to learn that is by getting to know the person they’re recruiting! Not the parent.

That said, avoid being a “helicopter parent” at all costs. Don’t try running the process. It’s not your process to run.

You’re not an agent, so don’t act as a representative of your child. Instead, encourage your student-athlete to be confident enough to talk directly with college coaches at the schools he or she is interested in.

If you’re the one calling the coach, sending the emails, and answering the questions, it doesn’t give the coach a chance to get to know your child.

You’re not being recruited. Your child is.


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