This article attempts to pinpoint four key tools that any prospect can use in maximizing a well-organized approach in the college search for athletes.
Education is Power
Gathering information is critical to the successful organization of any worthy project. Building a college recruiting information base can begin as early as middle school and as a fun family hobby. This effort should increasingly grow into a highly organized, disciplined project by the end of the junior year in high school.
Begin by gathering information on the potential colleges of choice, including team and coach profiles, statistics, ranking, and academic options. Continue to update and maintain individual e-files on your favorite college programs.
Make a commitment to understand and embrace the NCAA recruiting rules. This will help you identify the rules of the game that will streamline your planning and organizing into a simpler and more effective format. Visit: http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/resources to preview the Division 1, 2 and 3 recruiting manuals.
The following information should be stored in individual college program folders:
- Updated contact information for coach, assistant coach, financial aid representative etc. (Include name, address, e-mail, phone number etc.).
- Materials the coach has sent (brochures, articles, etc.).
- Team competition schedule. You should add important meets to your calendar and stay updated with the team’s accomplishments in preparation for future correspondences with the coach.
- College catalogs, applications and/or other marketing materials.
- Updated notes you gathered during the “exploratory stage” of your college quest, along with any communication and meetings you encountered with coaches from each institution.
- A list of pertinent questions or follow-up items you need to address for each program of interest.
- Copies of all the information you have provided to the school (admissions application, the data sheet you filled in for the coach, the most recent resume you provided etc. By keeping these copies handy, you can easily reproduce them when you need it.
Time-lines and Targets
Develop timelines that will zero in on general events in the beginning of the college search (making unofficial visits, maintaining your data base, and attending meets) and continue to move forward with more specific events (compiling a video and athlete profile, communicating with coaches, and making official visits, etc.) as your search progresses. This will increase your chances of “hitting targets” throughout the process. Below is an example target list:
- Identify general components (academic, athletic and social) that would define a perfect college fit and develop a list of top 10-20 schools in rank order.
- Create a coach contact sheet to include college websites, and coach’s name, e-mail and phone.
- Develop your personal recruiting team.
- Build a personal profile.
- Identify an organization system (hard copy files, electronic files, phone records, email records etc.).
- Practice initial phone call/Develop a short list of questions for the coaches.
- Create a YouTube account and/or develop a personal website.
- Target college visits dates.
- E-mail coaches with general letter of interest.
Personally, I believe in a team approach when navigating the college athletics recruiting process. This approach will maximize efficiency and minimize individual pressure and stress as families embrace a potentially daunting effort. Forming a trustworthy group of individuals who play specific roles during the recruiting cycle will increase your chances of reaching pre-determined goals.
Suggested Team Players:
- Club Coach
- Guidance counselor/College advisor
- Personal mentor/advisor
By selecting the team approach, the responsibility in effectively executing your recruiting plan is equally distributed to the area experts. All assignments should be clearly spelled out, and communication between team members should be often and consistent. This will help streamline the complete operation of the project and assist the family in avoiding any confusion that could contribute to unclear thinking, misdirection and potentially poor choices.
Suggested Team Responsibility Areas:
- Financial aid/scholarships
- Development of target calendar
- Research (schools, majors, athletic programs, rankings)
- Video, website and profile development
- Planned communication and contact log
- Campus Visits
- Standardized test preparation
- Organizing communication “role play”
- Researching college profiles and determining potential compatibility
Identify one team member who will run the offense and assign additional team members with responsibility areas. Avoid “overlap “of duties and encourage regular communication to ensure everyone advances together and on the same page.
Maintain a simplistic and diligent approach to the college recruiting process and you will keep your finger on the pulse of each project that will push your effort forward with clarity and success. A well-executed recruiting plan with attention to detail will serve families best as they embark on an important life decision.
About Tom Kovic:
Tom Kovic is a former Division I college gymnastics coach (Penn) 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: www.victoryrecruiting.com
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.