You could call this a showcase blog post. It’s the kind of post that hits the prime things any family needs to know about recruiting. If you’re just getting started in the journey, this is the post you need to read.
If you’ve been at it for a while, this is the kind of post you need to re-read. It’s getting back to basics when your efforts get scattered. In fact, I was re-focused when I wrote this. It reminded me about staying true north.
As always, feel free to write me with thoughts or questions.
Need to Know #1: When to Start
The number one question I get from parents is, “When should we start the recruiting process?”
I remember getting an email from one parent whose son was a senior, asking if it was too late. A moment later, I received an email from a freshman parent asking if it was too early!
Just this week, a parent wrote me, “We have twin daughters. They are only freshmen in high school. Is it too early to start the process?”
So, as you can see, there is some confusion out there.
You should start early. In fact, as early as the freshman year, if that’s possible.
But, even if you start in the senior year, it’s still probably not too late. You just have to work faster. Of course, this late in the year you really need to hustle. You need to apply the five steps I teach and do it fast. Now back to the subject at hand…
Coaches normally can’t contact you until your junior year (except in certain cases), but there is so much you can do before that year. There’s a lot of ground work to be done. Without overwhelming you with a list of things, let me tell you that you can be researching schools and programs before your junior year. Get an education in what’s out there. That way, you will be miles ahead when it’s time to kick the recruiting engine into gear.
Remember, if your son or daughter is a senior, then you do need to get on it right away. Have your kid contact coaches immediately. Student athlete, be honest with the coach that you know it’s late, and be convincing that you are truly interested in their school. You want to flag their attention right away and you want them to sense your urgency.
Need to Know #2: It Takes Hard Work
Without a doubt, when I was working with my sons on an athletic scholarship, one of the things I learned is that it takes hard work.
And that’s still true today.
I think of the story about a high school senior, Lindsay Brown, who accepted a scholarship offer for volleyball. She had interest from several schools, including New Hampshire, Oregon State, Louisiana Tech, Lewis & Clark College, Dominican University, Menlo College, UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside. She chose Sonoma State, which was near her home town.
“I like working hard to play well. I don’t mind breaking a sweat,” Lindsay said. “I’ll do everything I can to improve my game and be there for the team.”
At that time, her high school coach said that as long as she maintained her work ethic, she didn’t have anything to worry about. Well, she maintained it and is the record holder for career assists at Sonoma, 500 more than the next one in the record books.
How’s your work ethic? On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself? Hard work is an ingredient most athletes need to perform at their best and to have the best chance at an athletic scholarship.
An athlete’s work ethic says a lot about his or her character, as well as his or her willingness to pay the price to be the best and to help the team.
And that’s what a college coach is looking for.
Need to Know #3: Importance of the Right Fit
There’s no shortage of school choices when it comes to seeking the place you want to compete. In fact, the whole process can be overwhelming.
How many players do you hear about that transfer after one or two years because the program wasn’t what they had expected? It happens all the time, and one of the reasons is that your emotions can rule your decision, rather than thinking objectively.
I remember one high school athlete who achieved his lifelong dream, and that was to get an athletic scholarship at a particular well-known, top school in the nation. He transferred out after a year because there was a cancer on that team that he had been blinded from seeing when he was looking at the program.
Although you are looking for a good athletic scholarship, don’t let it rule your decision, if at all possible. There are a lot of other factors when choosing a college and athletic program. The decision you make is one you’ll have to live with for a long time.
Parents, be your kid’s #1 adviser. Athletes, seek your parents’ advice.
So how can you end up where at the school that is the right fit for you?
At Recruit-Me, I’ve come up with a tool that I call the “Report Card.” You better believe that coaches are keeping a “report card” on you, so why not keep a report card on them? That way, if you’ve got a list of 20-25 schools that you’re considering, you can narrow down the choice as you go along.
What is this “report card?” Simply put, you’re grading each school on various categories. In the report card that I’ve developed, you have an organized approach to grading each of the schools you’re looking at. As a result, the final choice will be a lot easier to make.
There are so many things to look at when you’re choosing a place to compete. Believe me, it does not really come down to how much of a scholarship they are offering you. For instance, a school that costs $20,000 (tuition and room and board) could offer you a $10,000 scholarship, but a school that costs $12,000 would likely be a better financial choice if they offered you a tuition-only scholarship.
I strongly advise families to keep their options open as long as they can. Get to know the coaches and programs through phone calls and talking with players on the team, visit schools high on your list, and don’t get wrapped up in the “recruiting glitz” that might not represent reality at that school. The longer you look, usually the more objective you will be.
So put together your “report card” and compare schools and programs that way. The Recruit-Me System has a refined report card, so be sure to look at it and use it.
The most important thing is to find the best school and program for you. Find the best fit.
Need to Know #4: The Role of the Parents
What’s the role of the parents in the scholarship and recruiting process? Your son or daughter has his or her hands full with school and athletics. It is important that they do their best in these two areas, because their ability to get a scholarship depends on both.
Therefore, as a parent, you need to take the lead in contacting schools, writing letters, responding to coaches’ inquiries and tracking the communications. It’s a big job and will get complex as more and more coaches respond. It can be overwhelming for your student-athlete, so they will need your help and guidance. You, the parent, should lead the way.
When coaches start to write and call, your son or daughter can get stars in their eyes and be consumed by the attention. Keep them on task and don’t let them get sidetracked from their primary responsibilities: school and athletics.
Need to Know #5: Recruiting is Year-Round
When it comes to getting into the athletic scholarship search and recruiting process, I see more activity by student-athletes in the Fall than at any other time of the year. I’m not quite sure why families pick the Fall to get started, because recruiting is year-round at all colleges and universities.
Here are some things you should do now to get ready to pursue an athletic scholarship. Parents, come alongside your son or daughter and help him or her to follow through on these:
1. Compile your stats. Coaches will be asking for these, so get them together now.
2. Make your list of schools. You should come up with 30-40 schools you’re interested in. Yes, that many! It’s essential, so you can have a lot of options in your athletic scholarship pursuit.
3. Write the first draft of your letter to coaches.
If you do these three things, you’ll be on your way to getting your letters out to college coaches. Of course, there’s more to it, but this is a starting point.
News of note for your encouragement:
I remember the call I received from a mother who reported that, against all odds, her son received a last-minute baseball scholarship. When I say last-minute, I mean it, because she didn’t contact me for help until May!
She got hold of my materials in the Recruit-Me System, and she and her son started in right away, contacting coaches. He ended up getting two offers. To add to the significance of this, I have to tell you that he only pitched 17 innings that year on his high school team because of an injury.
It just goes to show you that it’s never too late and you don’t have to be a superstar to be recruited and receive an athletic scholarship. BUT, you do have to take action.
Get a jump on things today.
So, I’ve given you the first five things you need to know (and revisit) about recruiting and athletic scholarships that keep you on true north. Of course, there’s much more to the process, but you must keep these things in mind all the way through.