How early is too early to recruit gymnasts to college?
I recently met with a family that has a daughter who is on the USA Gymnastics developmental team. Their daughter is in seventh grade and is feeling pressure to figure out which college is best for her future. College gymnastics coaches have come to watch her practice and she is seeing other girls from the developmental program verbally commit and posting this on social media.
If you ask any college gymnastics coach, they will tell you that they would prefer to wait till sophomore or junior year of high school to start recruiting However, they may also say they are guilty of making early offers. This trend of early recruiting began several years ago. When one college coach starts early recruiting, the other coaches tend to follow for fear that they will miss out on that blue chip recruit. My personal advice to this family is to take their time and not rush. A gymnast with this kind of talent will have many opportunities. Even though this specific gymnast was obviously very mature for her age, she was no where near ready to make a decision about college.
Below are some ideas on how to address this situation:
1. View early recruiting as inspiring to your daughter and not something to fear.
2. Set a goal as a family to not make any verbal commitments to a college team until high school or whatever date you feel is best for your daughter. This will take the pressure off of your
daughter and let her begin to feel comfortable with college recruiting process.
3. Look at your calendar and start taking your daughter on some casual visits to college campus’s. These schools do not have to be campus’s with gymnastics for her to learn about
college size, location and atmosphere.
4. Set up unofficial visits to the schools that appear to be interested in your daughter
5. Remember if a college coach has your daughters best interest in mind and she has the talent, they will wait for her to mature and be able to make a decision that she can feel confident
with in the long run.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask the college coach for a timeline in regards to when he or she would like a decision.
About Jill Hicks:
Jill Hicks is a former elite gymnast, Division I college athlete, club coach and Division I college gymnastics coach (Cal State Fullerton, Oregon State) and the owner of Jill Hicks Consulting, where she provides recruiting services and choreography for prospective student-athletes and their families. For further information visit: www.jhicksconsulting.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.