By Tom Kovic
The college experience is one of the most important years in the lives of our children. It will shape their personal and professional direction and securing admission to a college or university that best match with a student’s desires, strengths, and aspirations is essential.
The college athletic recruiting process can be both exhilarating and potentially daunting. A well-organized “team effort,” executed with dedication and enthusiasm from start to finish will serve you best.
Define Your “Inner Core”
College coaches identify, recruit and retain prospective student-athletes on 3 levels. They look for 1) Strong students, 2) Impact athletes and 3) Boys and girls who bring potentially strong leadership qualities to the team.
A great tool to develop, polish and share with college coaches is your player profile. The profile should offer the coaches with a broad scope of your strength as a true student-athlete. Include academic, athletic and any important ancillary information that gives the coaches a “real” snapshot to your totality as a prospective student-athlete.
Develop Your Plan
Gathering concrete information and developing a clear plan of action is critical in successfully navigating college athletics recruiting. The more familiar you will become with the recruiting process and NCAA procedures, the better you will be positioned to advance.
Building a college recruiting information base can begin as early as the ninth grade and increasingly grow into a highly organized, disciplined project by the end of the junior year. Begin by developing your initial college list and gathering information on your favorite college teams and follow their progress diligently.
Build your Team
Parents, prospect, high school/club coach, college advisor, guidance counselor and a personal mentor can all be part of your college recruiting team. Each team player should have a specific role to play to ensure the prospect’s best chances in finding the right match.
Advance goals should be identified with clarity, purpose and compliment the organizational structure of the recruiting plan. The team approach will not only assist the prospect from an organizational standpoint, it will help him/her build confidence in an unfamiliar, yet very important life decision area.
Effective communication between the prospect and the college coach can be critical to the potential level of support the prospect will receive. It can make or break a coach’s decision to offer an athletic scholarship or to provide that extra “push” in the admission process.
If your mission is distinct, communication becomes the “vehicle” that will drive your “recruiting purpose” in a clear direction. On the other hand, ill-prepared communication can cause confusion, misdirection and your recruiting “ship” moves, but with a weak rudder.
College coaches are strictly bound by a myriad of NCAA contact rules that sometimes prohibit them from contacting prospective student-athletes. That aside, few families realize that although college coaches may have their “hands tied” regarding contacts, families may initiate regular communication with college coaches, early on and with few exceptions.
The college recruiting process is exciting and requires a disciplined, yet flexible approach. Establishing and executing well-defined recruiting plans is crucial to successful navigation of the college quest. Proactive communication with college coaches will get you on the radar screen faster and more effectively and the family that approaches the college recruiting process with integrity and persistence will build mutually strong and respectful relationships with college coaches.
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