Recruiting Column: Experience is the best teacher

Recruiting Column: Experience is the best teacher

High School Sports

Recruiting Column: Experience is the best teacher


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. This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of Playced Athletic Recruiting. 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 platform for student-athletes of all talent levels and ages.

Some of the best lessons learned in life come from someone else’s experiences. Good or bad, right or wrong, we can learn a lot from what other people go through. In fact, the more you can relate to someone, the more likely you are to make a decision based on that person’s experiences.

In the spirit of “been there, done/doing that,” I sat down with two college athletes to get their take on recruiting and playing at the next level. In an effort to help all of you high school athletes out there make the best college decisions possible, I thought sharing their experiences would be appropriate. Here is what they had to say.

What surprised you most about the college recruiting process?

Sarah: I think the thing that stands out to me would be how college coaches were so responsive to me. I knew what schools I wanted to go to, and I let those schools know. I was surprised at how many coaches actually took the time to read and reply to my emails. I always thought I would just accept an offer from some random school, whether I wanted to go there or not! I was surprised at how much I could do to help myself in the process.

Jake: I had no idea coaches were recruiting me as a sophomore and I was surprised how early the decision-making started. I figured that I would just sign my senior year and that was that. I actually made a verbal commitment a year before I signed my National Letter of Intent and I didn’t know that I could do that.

Did you experience any disappointment with the college recruiting process?

Sarah: The biggest disappointment for me was realizing how low the actual dollar amount of an athletic scholarship was. Soccer is an “equivalency” sport, meaning I could only get a percentage of an athletic scholarship. Even after receiving a great offer at 50%, I still had to figure out how I would pay for the other half of school and that is a lot of money to be responsible for.

Jake: I had my mind set on a specific school my entire life. When I learned they didn’t have the same interest in me as I had in them, I was bummed out. I am glad I didn’t end up there, but at the time, I remember thinking “what now”.

What is the biggest difference between high school athletics and college athletics?

Sarah: Without a doubt, the amount of time it takes up and the commitment it takes. My schedule is booked up at least 6 days a week. It really makes me understand how much passion I have to have to succeed at this level. Every one of my teammates was the best player on their high school team; it’s crazy how much competition goes on just in practice!

Jake: Honestly, it’s the competition we face week in and week out. In high school, you could get away with not always performing your very best. In college, I have to bring my best stuff every game to give my team a chance to win. I have realized how important my preparation and practice are, every single day.

Coolest thing about being a college athlete?

Sarah: There is nothing not cool about it. I have made the

Coolest thing about being a college athlete?

Sarah: There is nothing not cool about it. I have made the best friends of my life and I get to play the sport I love, with them, every day! It is a blast traveling the country, seeing places I never thought I would see and playing soccer at such a high level. I always dreamed of playing college soccer and being able to live my dream is even better than I could have imagined!

Jake: Playing with guys that have the same goals as you is a cool thing to do. We work so hard every day because we all want to win a national championship. I would say the coolest thing is the day-to-day grind because it makes winning feel that much better. And, the gear of course!

Any advice for high school athletes going through the recruiting process now?

Sarah: Take your grades seriously in high school! Being a good student gives you more colleges to pick from when you decide to sign. College coaches take you more seriously and it gives you the opportunity to earn an academic scholarship, to help cover college costs.

Jake: Take your time in making a decision and look for a program that will fit you. In my three years here, I have seen teammates transfer and even quit. I see how hard it is for them to make those decisions and always wonder if they would have been better off somewhere else. I am thankful that my high school coach always preached to me about creating and having as many college options, as possible.


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