Friday, 10 September 2010 23:15

Launching the College Athletics Recruiting Effort

Written by Tom Kovic

The college experience is, in many cases, the most important four years in the prospective student athlete’s life, as it will shape their future personal and professional direction. That being said, securing admission to a college or university that best match students’ desires, strengths, and aspirations is essential.

Whether it happens to be that long awaited home improvement project, saving for a summer vacation or preparing for retirement, I think we can agree that any worthy project will go through a “launch phase.” This phase consists of a time of dreaming, planning and targeting specific time-lines to hit as you begin to “execute” your plan. The same holds true in the college search for athletes and below are snapshots of general suggestions that might just help you along the way.

Gather Information

Gathering information is critical to the successful organization of any worthy project. Building a college recruiting information base can begin as early as the ninth grade as a family hobby and increasingly grow into a highly organized, disciplined project by the end of the junior year.

Begin by gathering information on the student-athletes colleges of choice including team and coach profiles, statistics, ranking, and academic offerings. Continue to update and maintain individual e-files on these favorite college programs.

Develop your initial college list

This is where the fun begins! You have built an initial knowledge foundation about the college search and you have a pretty good idea of what you are looking for in a college experience. Now it’s time to develop a grouping of institutions that potentially meet that end.

Peterson’s College Search ( is a great resource where you can input specific information about what you are looking for in a 4 year college experience and up comes a listing of colleges and universities that initially “match.” Investigate both the general and athletic college websites. From there you can begin to put together a more detailed list of coaches and their contact information.

Build your Team

Parents, prospect, high school/club coach, college advisor, guidance counselor and a personal mentor could all be part of your team in the college recruiting process. Each team player will have a specific role to play in order to ensure the prospect’s best chances in navigating the college search with confidence. Advance goals should be set with clarity and purpose that compliment the organizational structure of the recruiting process.

By selecting the team approach, the responsibilities are equally distributed to the area experts. All assignments should be clearly spelled out and communication between the team members should be frequent and consistent. This will help streamline the college quest and assist in avoiding any confusion that could contribute to unclear thinking, misdirection and potentially poor choices.

Define Yourself: The Profile

It is important to streamline your portfolio into a comprehensive and efficient format that stands above the rest. Keep your profile simple, neat and professionally formatted. Make the job of initial evaluation easy for the college coach by highlighting pertinent information including:

  • Personal and school and club contact information
  • Academic standing, awards, and test results
  • Physical characteristics
  • Club and level, showcase meets, and elite camps
  • Athletic Statistics, Records, and Awards
  • Mission Statement
  • Coach’s Comments

Show your Stuff: The Video

A videotape, DVD or web stream are means of developing a first impression and trust me when I say that first impressions are remembered. Typically, a coach will roughly evaluate a recruit within the first 2 minutes of a video. They need to! Along with the hundreds of profiles, they are also being bombarded with hundreds of videos!

Make your video succinct, professional, and yet attention grabbing. Keep in mind that just as individual collegiate programs differ, it is important to communicate with the individual college coaches about their requirements for DVD footage.

Develop your Plan

A knowledgeable consumer will have a clear edge in the pursuit of the attainment of any worthy product. I believe that the same holds true in the college search and I encourage families to make every effort and commitment to organize pertinent information regarding this process and to execute well-designed plans.

Develop timelines that will target general events in the beginning of the college search (making unofficial visits, maintaining your data base, and attending competitions) and continue with more specific events (compiling a video and gymnast profile, communicating with coaches, and making official visits, etc.) as time progresses. This will increase the chances of “hitting targets” throughout the recruiting process.

Similar to a NASA Space Shuttle launch, the beginning phase of any college recruiting plan will be time consuming, demanding and require the greatest effort. That said, once you break free of that “gravity” and you remain persistent with your plan, you will give yourself the best chance in building and maintaining momentum toward your ultimate goal.

About the Author:

Tom Kovic is a former Division I college gymnastics coach and the current director of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families on college recruiting. Tom is the author of “Reaching for Excellence”, an educational guide for college athletics recruiting. For further information visit: Copyright Victory Collegiate Consulting 2010.  Used by permission.

Editor's Note:  Publication of this article is not an endorsement of any recruiting service.  Always check with the NCAA or your school's compliance officer for any questions regarding recruiting rules, the latest timelines, or other issues.

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