Having an all-star team on your side during the recruiting process can positively impact your college career as a student-athlete. So who should you work with and what should they be responsible for?
Below I list three types of advocates, along with the recommended ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ they should adhere to:
A Parent or Family Member
- Be prepared. Parents or a designated family member can help prepare you for the recruiting process by creating and keeping an ‘athletic’ portfolio on your behalf. Ask them to record your game statistics for each program (club teams, varsity teams, travel programs etc.) along with any awards, accolades, or records you accomplish.
- Be realistic. As your advocates, have family members objectively look at your abilities and skill level, especially during a stressful and competitive recruiting process. According to a recent article in USA Today High School Sports, only 1% of college students receive a full-ride athletic scholarship. Parents should be unbiased in identifying your skill level, and be honest about the types of schools where you would be a good fit.
- Be organized. Family members can also help keep spreadsheets of colleges that student-athletes are interested in, or schools that have expressed interest. Use an organizer like Excel or a Google Sheets to keep track of crucial information. Each document should include following columns: name of school, state, educational programs, class size, scholarship offer, career services statistics, name of coach/contact, pros, cons and next steps.
- Don’t become an agent. Parents should serve as a complement to student-athletes, not their agent. When speaking with prospective college coaches and schools, parents or family members should not take over conversations. Student-athletes should be responsible for reaching out, building relationships with coaches at the approved NCAA times, answering questions, and asking the right ones.
- Don’t do the outreach. Family members can help with research and outreach- but they shouldn’t spearhead it. Help proof-read emails that student-athletes write and offer to help practice phone calls. Taking the initiative when writing emails or making phone calls to college coaches is the responsibility of the student-athlete
- Don’t waste money. Expenses add up. Parents should not waste thousands of dollars to ensure their child plays on the best AAU teams, attends the best camps or performs at elite showcases. Better yet, don’t spend thousands of dollars on expensive recruiting services! Instead, make sure that student-athletes play on solid travel teams where they can be seen by college coaches. Select a camp or showcase that will get you the best exposure for your area and skill level. Instead of working with a recruiting service, do the grunt work yourselves or find an affordable one. Don’t waste money!
- Don’t badmouth other players. College coaches and athletics programs see this all the time when they recruit or scout games. Don’t give them a reason to not recruit a student-athlete. You know the expression: if you have nothing nice to say… 🙂
- Give an evaluation. Coaches can provide athletes with an evaluation or candid feedback regarding their overall game. Sit down and ask them to review your skillset, provide feedback and pointers before you begin the recruiting process. Ask them to also share areas of improvement and what you can continue doing to elevate your game.
- Provide an introduction. After you compile your list and select schools, ask coach if they know any of the coaches on that list. If they do, request a referral or ask them to make an introduction.
- Set up a call. College coaches cannot contact you until September 1st of your junior year; however, they can pick up your (the student-athletes’) phone call. If you can’t reach a college coach, your current coach can contact them and set up a time for you to call them back.
- Provide film. It’s very likely that your school team films and keeps game film. Ask your coach or manager if you can obtain a copy for yourself. While you’ll need to edit the film to focus on your highlights, this will save you a lot of time if your parents or family members don’t have access to a camera.
- Ignore rules. Coaches should not violate any NCAA or recruiting rules, which include receiving special benefits, perks or payments for helping you throughout the recruiting process.
- Start early. During your freshman and sophomore year, student-athletes should work with their guidance counselors to select core courses they’ll need to be eligible for college recruitment. A high GPA doesn’t mean you’re taking all of the classes that are required for NCAA. Make sure to create an SAT/ACT timeline so you are aware of the expectations and don’t have to cram near the end of your high school career.
- Help you see the big picture. Sit down with your guidance counselor to review all factors of a college, not just an athletic-scholarship. Research to see what major a school offers, an average class size, your distance from home, career placements after graduation and more. If you get injured or your scholarship is taken away, would you still be interested in the school? Additionally, counselors should encourage you to take unofficial visit to schools if you can afford the trip.
- Familiarize themselves with the NCAA Eligibility center. Your counselor should understand the college-recruitment process from an academic standpoint. Make sure that they work with a parent or guardian to release your transcript, provide standardized test scores and upload other records like your GPA, test scores and transcripts.
- Be proactive. Just like your parents and coaches, make sure your counselor is on top of things. They should be notifying you and your parents if you receive interest from a college or university. It would be a shame to be removed from consideration from a school because your counselor didn’t call a coach back or forward your academic records in a timely manner. While counselors work with all types of students, consider sitting down with them to help them understand the process you’re going through and how it is very different from a typical student applying to colleges.
- Ignore rules. Counselors or school officials should not violate any NCAA or recruiting rules, which include receiving special benefits, perks or payments for helping you throughout the recruiting process.