Parent's Corner - College Track and Field Recruiting

Fast Track Recruiting

Written by Ryan

Ryan’s daughter is a XC/T&F distance runner going into her senior year. Her top six college choices are four Power 5 DI schools, a top 50 DI XC program, and a top 5 DIII program.

Reaching out to coaches at the beginning of the junior year is the right time to begin the recruiting process. Regardless of your child’s level of competitiveness, proactively connecting with a coach is a great way to get on their radar. The introduction email should not be too long, highlighting the strengths of your child athlete, both athletically and academically. Attaching a more detailed student-athlete resume can also provide additional information that can’t be included in the email. Offer to keep the coach updated on the progress of the season. A well written, short, clear and concise email should give the coach enough information to assess the potential of the athlete. Don’t be discouraged if the coaches don’t immediately respond or responds at all. Keep updating the coach on your progress and stay diligent until a coach responds. I will talk later about scheduling UNOFFICIAL VISITS.

One of the most important learnings we experienced was related to the turnover of coaches at universities. After visiting schools, meeting with coaches, and getting to know them, we had no way of predicting how many coaches would be leaving their universities BEFORE the beginning of my daughter’s senior year. In fact, out of the 12 schools we had unofficial visits with or were extensively communicating with, either via email or phone calls, four coaches abruptly left their schools from May to July of this year. It was truly devastating when a coach, who we were just about to schedule admissions pre-reads or official visits, went ghost on all of our communications. Why did they stop talking or responding to emails? Did they no longer want to recruit her? We had so many questions and no answers. Two of the four coaches eventually let us know they’d left their programs, but two said absolutely nothing. Imagine how hard it was to be communicating with coaches and getting excited to be considered for their running programs, just to have that end abruptly. I will talk later about choosing COLLEGES VERSUS COACHES.


As an update on our current recruiting activity, my daughter attended her first DI official visit this past weekend. It was a Sunday to Monday visit, at a school driving distance from our home. It included some running with the team (which was “optional”), lots of local meals with team members, a lunch with coaches, and attending a few classes. It concluded with a parents/coaches meeting where we talked about next steps, an athletic scholarship, and what to expect as we approached NLI (National Letter of Intent) day on November 13th. It was a productive visit and gave us some good insight into what actually happens on an official visit. She has a DIII overnight visit this weekend and four more DI visits to go.

Always feel free to send any questions.

Until next Week!

Ryan

Parents Corner - The First Steps

Dans les starting-blocks pour le 110m haies masculin

VOLUME TWO

Written by Ryan

Ryan’s daughter is a XC/T&F distance runner going into her senior year. Her top six college choices are four Power 5 DI schools, a top 50 DI XC program, and a top 5 DIII program.

When we first began to consider the timing on when to start the activity around XC/T&F recruitment, we really had no idea if we were too early or too late. We started the process at the beginning of her junior year and learned it was a perfect time to be reaching out to coaches to begin introductions and dialogue. There are so many resource options out there that offer assistance and guidance to help you, from various websites offering recruitment help, to consultants, to massive database companies that offer education, video training and other software tools. But what I would share with you today, is that the first step is something you can do on your own.

First, look at the schools your teenager wants to consider attending and compare their athletic performance to the Freshman class at those schools. If your child has similar or better high school performance numbers, reach out to the event coach at that school. When we sent emails to Head Coaches, we got very little response, so send your email to the relevant event coach. Most coaches have their email listed on the coach profile page, and if not, search on the athletic staff directory or call the school directly. Coaches want to be reached out to so their email can be easily found.

Second, write an introduction email and begin sending that out to coaches. I will offer more insight on INTRODUCTION EMAILS next week as there are some things we would have definitely changed if we had known better. We are currently heavily focused on receiving official visit invites from coaches and confirming those visits. Depending on the level of recruitment, interaction with and communication with the coach, this can be very easy or extremely frustrating. It is even made more complicated when the coach that was recruiting in the Spring has left the school before the Fall. This has happened to us at five different schools my daughter was talking to, so this is a real issue to have to manage. I will talk about managing COACH TURNOVER next week.

Right now, we have three confirmed visits, two DI official visits and one DIII overnight visit. Each of them was confirmed and booked in different ways. One is with a new coach who we had to quickly email, speak to, and meet with over the summer in order to keep the recruitment possibility active. The other two schools we’d been communicating with via email and telephone. and met with the coach on an unofficial visit over the past 10 months. More to follow on our progress.

Making the Most of Your Unofficial Visits

Track and Field Recruiting: Making the Most of Your Unofficial Visits

Track Recruiting

The NCAA defines an unofficial visit as any visit to a college campus paid for by you or your parents. The NCAA permits an unlimited number of unofficial visits – so take advantage of this. If utilized effectively, unofficial visits can be a very helpful learning tool in the recruiting process.

During an unofficial visit, it is typical for a coach to give you a tour of their athletic facilities, talk to you and your parents about their institution, and highlight their program. In addition to this athlete-specific portion of the visit, I advise scheduling a formal campus tour through the admissions office to view the school from a non-athletic perspective.

Email the coach well ahead of time to let them know the specific date that you will be visiting their campus and of your desire to meet with them. Provide the coach with a couple of times you are able to meet -- usually before or after the campus tour. I suggest starting unofficial visits at the completion of your sophomore year. Unofficial visits can help in two primary ways. For a recruited athlete, unofficial visits are critical in gathering information as you begin to narrow down your choices. For a non-recruited athlete, unofficial visits allow you the opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting with the coach to tell your story.

If you are a recruited athlete, use this time to learn as much as you can about the program and coaching staff. Identify the factors that will be most important to you in determining if you will return for an official visit. Have a short list of specific questions ready that address your most critical factors. You should view unofficial visits as a means to narrow your choices -- not as a mechanism to determine where you want to go. Keep in mind that during an unofficial visit you are typically only hearing the voice of the coach. Coaches are well versed in knowing what to say and how best to sell their programs. The official visit will prove much more informative.

If you are a non-recruited athlete, the unofficial visit serves an entirely different purpose. Use this time to sell yourself. You have a limited amount of time to convince the coach that you are more than your current PR's. Give them a reason to want to recruit you. Instead of asking a detailed list of questions, use this time to express your keen interest in their program and desire to run competitively in college. Be as low-maintenance as possible.

There is no imposed limit on the number of unofficial visits you may take, so take as many as possible. There is no better tool to help you hone in on the best school/program for you.

Parent's Corner - Getting Started

PARENTS’ CORNER

by Ryan

Ryan’s daughter is a XC/T&F distance runner going into her senior year. Her top six college choices are four Power 5 DI schools, a top 50 DI XC program, and a top 5 DIII program.

When my daughter said to me last year, “I want to be recruited to run at a Division I school”, I had no idea what that really meant. Even though my oldest daughter had recently graduated from West Point, where she ran competitively for two years, I simply could not have imagined how my life was going to change in order to help her achieve her goal. Forget that researching, applying, and choosing the right college is already a daunting, high-stress, nerve-racking challenge in its own right, but to add being recruited took it to another level.

What I hope to share with you, on a weekly basis, is the recruiting process we have gone through over the past year; the good, the bad, and the ugly. You’ll also get to experience the conclusion of this journey when my daughter makes her final college decision this Fall.

There are so many different aspects of managing the recruiting process I did not even consider, or were simply unaware of when we started one year ago. There were so many questions and little answers at that time. Here’s a list of questions that come to mind:

……when should we start, how do we start, do we get help, what kind of help. which schools should she consider, which division should she target, how good was she compared to other athletes, how do we reach out to coaches, which coaches should we contact, how should we contact, how much athletic money can we get, do the schools stack athletic/merit/need, what IS stacking, how does this mold into the admissions process, how does the coach get involved with admissions-whether my daughter needed support or not, what about the connection with or feeling about the coach, did the coach recruiting her leave before her senior year and what to do next, what about the official visits from being invited to attending, should she target NLI day or not, should she apply ED or not, and so many more……..

With so many questions to consider, I decided to share my insights and learnings with you, regardless of where you are in the recruiting process.

Our first question last year was related to the TIMING of the recruitment process, and when to begin, and what specifically to do. As she was entering her junior year, were we too early, too late, or right on-time? I will cover this topic in next week’s post. I’ll also share real-time updates on what’s happening at this very moment. I’ll share next week how we are currently MANAGING OFFICIAL VISITS. Feel free to send any additional questions you might have to add to the above list, and I’ll try to answer them as best I can.

Until next time! Ryan

Do's and Dont's of College Track and Field Recruiting

college track and field recruiting

Track Recruiting

Here are a few useful tips from Coach Willy Wood that will help you navigate the recruiting process successfully.

DO keep detailed notes throughout the entire recruiting process as you will forget certain aspects of schools/programs. It was not uncommon for recruits of mine to videotape and take photos of our facilities and campus to help them remember their visit.

DO NOT close your initial email to a coach with, "I am confident that I can contribute greatly to your program" if you are not yet performing at a level close to the team's current athletes. I recall reading that type of closing comment and thinking to myself, "how?" It led me to believe that the prospect did not really understand much about our program. Instead say "With hard work and your coaching, I am confident that I can develop into a runner capable of helping your program over the span of my college career." The latter statement shows them that you understand how much work will be required to succeed at the collegiate level and will convey your confidence in the coach's ability to help you.

DO carefully proofread every email before hitting send. I cannot tell you how many emails I received from recruits specifically addressed to a rival coach expressing their interest in a rival school. A great deal of communication in the early phases of the recruiting process is going to be cut and paste on both sides, however, making a simple mistake can dehumanize the process and render the remainder of your communication less credible. It may also be helpful to send a couple of test emails to yourself first to ensure that the font or text sizes have not changed where you have cut and pasted new names.

DO NOT tell coaches "you are among my top choices". Everyone knows that both athletes and coaches have many options -- there is no need to state it. Simply say, "I am extremely interested in your program." It is far more personal and establishes a more positive relationship. Make every effort possible to prevent this process from becoming generic - subtle word changes can make the entire process seem more personal to the coach. This is important as they will be deciding how much money to offer you or if they will give you an admission's spot.

DO your homework! Never be surprised by your visit. Have a keen understanding of the unique strengths of each school. It will go along way with the coaching staff if it appears you know a great deal about their specific school and program. Have a solid understanding of where they rank athletically and academically, what their unique strengths are and how they compare to the other schools you are considering. On occasion, I would literally have prospects in my office tell me that they were really interested in State U or Academic U but they knew they could not get into that school or run for their team. It would dumbfound me as we had a lower acceptance rate and were significantly better athletically. Know who and where you are visiting.

DO NOT ask a coach if they plan on staying. It is a question that is so often asked and has no real purpose. Every coach will say yes, they have to. Coaching is a profession and coaches will make decisions based on what is best for their families and themselves. It is imperative to choose a school where you will be happy outside of track and field/cross country.

DO track program trajectory - not every program is up and coming though many claims to be. Determine if athletes in a particular program are improving over the course of four years. Specifically, look for when an individual's PR's were set. Peruse program websites to determine how many juniors and seniors are still on the roster to discern if team members are quitting. If there are a disproportionate number of FR and SO on the roster, find out why to determine if there is high-level program dissatisfaction or an alarming injury rate. DO NOT embarrass yourself on social media. This topic has been beaten to death and hopefully does not require elaboration. Plain and simple, do not give coaches a reason to question your character or lifestyle.

DO be easily found on social media. Many coaches use your personal pages as a means of reaching out initially. Remember, most coaches are a step or two behind you and your friends in terms of being social media savvy, so leave a trail for them. Beyond Instagram and Twitter consider keeping your Facebook account -- coaches tend to look there first.

DO NOT approach this process passively. Be aggressive in your outreach and email every program that you are interested in, regardless of the perceived reach. It is up to you to not only create a compelling story but also be able to tell it. Be your own greatest advocate and take charge of your future. Consider this one of the most important competitions of your high school career and prepare accordingly! The recruiting process can be daunting. There are so many unknowns, however, if you get started early, put in the work, and take an active role you will find the right fit.

Track and Field Recruiting Tip of the Week - Identify Viable Options

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COLLEGE TRACK AND FIELD RECRUITING

Do your research and have an idea what schools and programs are truly viable options for you based on your current and projected athletic and academic achievements. Track and Field is unique in that a tangible comparison if often possible. Do your research and see how your PR’s compare to the previous year’s recruits at the schools you are most interested in. A quick perusal of the school’s track and field website and Milesplit will allow you to gain an honest perspective of how you stack up. Look further into how your GPA and test scores measure up to the profile of the incoming class. However, if you are being recruited by a particular school, you should realize that most coaches have quite a bit of leeway with the Office of Admissions – so don’t be scared away if the numbers seem daunting.

Realistically assess your academic and athletic numbers and start form there. For example, a high school girl who has run 13.00 for 100m or a young man who has run 2:03 for 800m cannot expect to compete in the SEC. Along the same line, a student with a 21 on the ACT should not expect to be admitted to NYU or Harvard regardless of a coach’s support.

It is important to identify the schools and programs that are the best fit for you. And, although it is imperative to dream big and shoot for the stars, it is also important to be realistic about your current athletic and academic abilities to find the vey best fit for you!

Track and Field Recruiting Tip Of The Week - Find Your Best Fit

Track Recruiting

TRACK & FIELD RECRUITING TIP OF THE WEEK

TIP #1 – FINDING THE BEST FIT FOR YOU

To get started, determine the most important factors in choosing a school. Consider quality of education, cost, team environment, program success, level of competition, coaching style/philosophy, location, major and such. Obviously, you should prioritize these factors to ensure you are finding the very best fit for you.

For example, the cost of attendance will be very important for many families and will therefore drive the recruiting process. For another family, the academic reputation of the university or college may be the most important factor in determining which schools to pursue. Obviously, as a track and field recruit the college coach and the team environment will be important factors in your decision.

My suggestion to you is create a list identifying your most important factors in rank order. For all families, there will be more than one factor impacting the decision. Identify the factors that are important for you and let that list guide you through the recruiting process.

EXAMPLE GIVEN:

1600m / 3200m Boy with PR’s of 4:22 and 9:30 as a junior. He has SAT scores of 1210 and wants to attend a NCAA D1 school with a solid academic reputation in the Midwest that the family can afford.

Schools to consider:

Bradley University Butler University Drake University Xavier University

Tagged: track and field recruitimg, college track and field recruiting

College Track and Field Recruiting: What Track and Field Athletes Should Be Doing During the Month of August

Fast Track Recruiting

As the month of July comes to an end, college campuses are slowly coming back to life. Coaches are returning from vacations, admissions representatives are in the office more often, financial aid officers are back crunching numbers and the recruiting process is about to pick up speed once again. To ensure you are doing all that needs to be done before the conclusion of the summer see our list of suggestions below.

SENIORS

  1. If you are looking at academically selective schools, you should be submitting information for both an Academic and Financial Aid Pre-Read to determine feasibility.
  2. If you are being recruited, you should start narrowing your choices and determine where you want to take your five official visits – (CLICK HERE FORM MORE INFORMATION ON OFFICAL VISITS)
  3. If you are not being recruited, you need to ramp up your outreach efforts and take a more proactive approach to your recruitment. Do not wait for coaches to contact you.

JUNIORS

  1. You still have time to squeeze in a few more unofficial visits. Use this time to gather information about the schools on your list. - (CLICK HERE FORM MORE INFORMATION ON UNOFFICAL VISITS)
  2. If you have not yet done so fill out on online questionnaire at the schools on your list and email the coach expressing your interest in their program.

SOPHOMORES

  1. Start creating a list of potential schools and running programs that you are interested in. Coaches will be able to reach out to you next summer so be prepared and hit the ground running.

FRESHMAN

  1. High School is going to be so much fun! Learn as much as you are able from the upperclassmen on your team.

Have further questions? Need more clarification? We are here to help. Set up an appointment today!

Track & Field Recruiting – What Should I Be Doing This Summer?

PHOTO CREDIT: JOHN NEPOLITAN -  WWW.DYESTAT.COM

PHOTO CREDIT: JOHN NEPOLITAN - WWW.DYESTAT.COM

Track and Field Recruiting

The NCAA currently reports that over 1.5 million boys and girls participate in high school track & field and cross country. Of those 1.5 million participants, only 85,000-90,000 will compete in college, or approximately 4-7% depending upon event and gender

As a result, it is imperative that you devise a plan of action early on in your high school career. You have worked too hard and sacrificed far too much to idly wait for the process to begin. Take control of your destiny in the same manner you have your academic and athletic endeavors. The recruiting process will require the same such commitment from you.

Below you will find what rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors should be doing right now

Going To Be A Sophomore

With the new NCAA Recruiting Rules your recruiting process will begin in less than a year. As a result, it is imperative that you devise a plan of action now. Below are three suggestions for you to consider during your sophomore year of high school to optimize your college recruitment experience:

  1. Create a list of schools
  2. Send an introductory email
  3. Communicate effectively

For more information click here - SOPH YEAR

Going To Be A Junior

Your junior year is quickly approaching and it is time to start seriously considering where you want to continue your academic and athletic pursuits. Do not be passive -- start reaching out to college coaches now. Be proactive in your outreach and email every program that you are interested in, regardless of the perceived reach. Be your own greatest advocate and take charge of your future.

  1. Cast A Wide Net
  2. Fill Out Online Recruiting Questionnaires
  3. Contact College Coaches
  4. Take The ACT / SAT
  5. Utilize Unofficial Visits

For more informaiton click here - Jr Year

Going To Be A Senior

If you are not being recruited at all yet or not hearing from the programs you are most interested in is time to reevaluate your college search process. There is still time plenty of time to devise a new strategy and create a new outreach plan.

  1. Try, try again – and, then move on. Re-contact everyone.
  2. Reach out to all the schools that have reached out to you
  3. Expand your search
  4. Try different means of outreach
  5. Enlist the Help of your High School Coach
  6. Enlist the help of a third-party

If you are being recruited, life is good - enjoy the ride!

  1. Get an Academic / Financial Aid Pre Read where applicable
  2. Narrow your choices
  3. Take Your Official Visits
  4. Choose the best fit for you!

For more information click here - Sr Year

If you are not getting your desired results and need help - enlist the services of Fast Track Recruiting. We have produced the desired results for numerous families.

TOP NCAA D3 TRACK & FIELD PROGRAMS

NCAA+D3+Track+Recruiting

NCAA D3 Track and Field Recruiting – Fast Track Recruiting Guide to Colleges and Programs to Consider.

Fast Track Recruiting has identified NCAA Division III schools and programs with the best combination of athletics and academics. We have also identified outstanding academic institutions with strong track and field / cross country programs as well as colleges with strong track programs.

BEST OVERALL COMBINATION - MEN

  1. Washington University (MO)
  2. MIT
  3. RPI
  4. Williams
  5. Middlebury
  6. John’s Hopkins

BEST OVERALL COMBINATION - WOMEN

  1. Washington University (MO)
  2. Williams
  3. John’s Hopkins
  4. Chicago
  5. Brandeis
  6. Carleton (MN)

OTHER TOP D3 STRONG ACADEMIC SCHOOLS WITH STRONG RUNNING PROGRAMS

Amherst Bowdoin Brandeis Cal Tech Carnegie Mellon Emory NYU Pomona Swarthmore Tufts

OTHER D3 OUTSTANDING TRACK AND FIELD PROGRAMS

George Fox John Carroll
Loras Mount Union Nebraska Wesleyan North Central UW Eau-Claire UW LaCrosse Wheaton (IL)

OTHER D3 OUTSTANDING CROSS COUNTRY PROGRAMS

Havervord SUNY Genseo Wartburg

TOP NCAA D2 TRACK & FIELD PROGRAMS

NCAA D2 Track and Field Recruiting

NCAA D2 Track and Field Recruiting

Fast Track Recruiting has put together a list of schools to consider if you are looking to compete at the NCAA D2 level. In finding the performance standards to compete at this level, we looked at the team performances from the past academic year in cross country, and the indoor/outdoor track and field seasons. In addition, we placed equal value on the school’s national and regional academic ranking. Below you will find a list of schools that appear on both lists.

 

MEN’S PROGRAMS TO CONSIDER

Cedarville

Colorado School of the Mines

Grand Valley State University

WOMEN’S PROGRAMS TO CONSIDER

Augustana College (SD)

Colorado School of the Mines

Grand Valley State University

TOP ACADEMIC SCHOOLS TO CONSIDER

Bentley

Rollins

University of California San Diego

OTHER PROGRAMS/SCHOOLS TO CONSIDER

Bellermine

Embry-Riddle

Flagler

Florida Southern

Hillsdale College

Lewis

Point Loma

Queens (NC)

Seattle Pacific

Stonehill

Truman State

TRACK AND FIELD PERFORMANCE GUIDELINES

 EVENT           MEN                            WOMEN

 National Level Performances / Conference Level Performances

100m              10.60 / 10.90             12.00 / 12.30

200m              21.40 / 22.00            24.40 / 25.30

400m              47.80 / 49.50            56.00 / 58.50

800m              1:52 / 1:55                  2:12 /2 :19

1500m           3:51 / 3:59                 4:33 / 4:47

3000mSC       9:15 / 10:00             11:00 / 12;00

5000m           14:32 / 15:10             17:10 / 18:10

10000m         30:42 / 32:45           36:35 / 40:00

110HH            14.60 / 15.40              14.20 / 15.20

400IH             53.50 / 56.50            62.00 / 66.00

High Jump 6’8” / 6’ 3” 5’6” / 5’3"

Pole Vault 15’9” / 14’ 12’ / 10’6”

Long Jump 23’9” / 22’ 19’ / 17’9”

Triple Jump 48’ / 44’ 39’ / 36’

Shot Put 53’ / 48’ 45’ / 39

Discus 165’ / 140’ 150’ / 130’

Hammer 180’ / 150’ 170’ / 145’

Javelin 195’ / 160’ 135’ / 115’

New Track and Field NCAA D1 Recruiting Rules for 2019

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COLLEGE TRACK AND FIELD RECRUITING RULES

The NCAA has adopted new recruiting rules for NCAA D1 Track and Field/Cross Country programs. These new rules focus primarily on communication between the recruit and the college coach before the end of their sophomore year of high school. In reality, very little communication in the sport of Track and Field was occurring prior to a recruit’s junior year of high school. Although these rules were designed to stop the increasing trend of early recruiting and give student-athletes the opportunity to make a more informed decision on their college of choice. These rules could impact the recruiting process for track and field athletes in the opposite way as less than 15% of track and field athletes have reported being recruited prior to their Junior year. In fact, nearly 40% stated that they were not being recruited until their senior year.

New NCAA DI Track and Field Recruiting Rules

1. No communication with a coach until June 15 after sophomore year

The new rules prevent any communication between a student-athlete or parent/guardian and a DI college coach before June 15 of sophomore year. Communication includes phone, text and/or email.

2. No Official or Unofficial visits until August 1 of junior year

Fast Track Recruiting – UNOFFICIAL VISITS

Fast Track Recruiting – OFFICIAL VISIT

3. No Recruiting Conversations or Verbal Offers until June 15 of sophomore year

Six Things for Canadian Track and Field Athletes To Consider During The NCAA Recruiting Process

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International Track and Field Recruiting

BY: SCOTT MONCUR

SCOTT COMPETED IN THE 400M & 800M AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY AND COACHED AT BOTH BROWN UNIVERSITY AND COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY. MONCUR WAS AN IVY LEAGUE CHAMPION AND NCAA QUALIFIER. SCOTT RESIDES IN CANMOR, AB AND NOW WORKS FOR THE ROYAL BANK OF CANADA

Coach Wood recruited me to Columbia University when I was in Grade 11, and I joined his program in September of 2000.  He was patient with me throughout the process and allowed me and my family to ask questions and make the best long-term decision for me.  That is the most important thing to consider when you are weighing your post-secondary options as a Canadian or International student-athlete.  I will try to share some my experience as a high school and university student-athlete, as well as my experience as an Assistant Track and Cross Country Coach at both Brown University and Columbia University of the Ivy League.

As a high school athlete, I was an OFSAA Champion (400m), three-time medallist (800m, Steeple) and made the Canadian Junior final in the 800m three times.  I was recruited by a number of universities, both in the US and in Canada and took a number of official visits.

As I worked through the process, I found that the recruiting approach was similar amongst schools on both sides of the border.  Every school has something unique that it can offer you, and it is up to you to determine what is important to you, both in the short-term and in the long-term. 

When I started the recruiting process I knew that I wanted to end up living in Canada for the long-term, but that I wanted the opportunity to experience living and competing in the States.  This had me put most of my focus on American universities.  I was recruited by Ivy League schools, as well as schools in major athletic conferences and some schools so small that I had trouble believing they even existed!  You end up with so much information that it can be overwhelming.  To help with this, I opened myself up to listening to my family, and to my coach.  My parents both competed at the University of Windsor and my coach competed at Villanova University.  This provided me with diverse perspectives and guidance, and I suggest that you seek out trusted advisors that can share both experiences with you.  Being a Canadian athlete, you are well connected to your fellow competitors and coaches across the country.  At your provincial meet and at Nationals, you likely chat with Canadian University coaches often and know them quite well.  My advice is to seek out what you don’t know, challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone.

In the end, my final two choices were Columbia University and the University of Windsor.  In Windsor, I had familiarity, friends, coaches that I knew well, and training partners that I had run with for a few years already.  In Columbia, I didn’t know a single person (at first), had only been to New York City once (on my official visit!) and was scared to death.  I took some time to reflect on the choice in front of me.  Both, I knew, would provide me with great opportunities to run fast and to receive a great education, but there were a few key aspects of the process that tipped me toward Columbia.

1.     I had the opportunity to receive a world-renowned education and study in the same setting and atmosphere that world leaders and Nobel prize winners studied in.

2.     Columbia offered an opportunity to compete against not only the best in Canada but the best in the world.  I am the same age as Nathan Brannen, and by choosing to compete in the US, not only would I get to continue to test myself against him, but also hundreds of athletes that were faster than me.

3.     The student-athletes already on the team welcomed me on my official visit as if I had been on the team for years.

4.     This part was most important in my decision-making process: There were two coaches that were young, committed to creating an environment of success, and were fiercely focused on developing a middle-distance and distance program.

While it took me some time to adjust to living in New York City, running in Central Park, and getting hammered by teammates in workouts and races, I absolutely made the right decision.  Attending Columbia gave me the opportunity to compete at the Penn Relays, the NCAA East Regional at the University of Florida, the Duke Invitation, Harvard, Yale, and so many other incredible venues.  The experience at an American university opened up the door for me to work in US Congress the summer after my second-year, and then get into coaching myself for three years after graduating from law school.  While the decision was difficult, it was the right one.  I’m not saying that attending an American school is the right choice for everyone, but it was for me. 

To help you make the right decision for you, here are some things to consider:

1.     Pay close attention to the coaching staff, and the head coaches in particular.  Assistant coaches tend to change often, and almost certainly will during your time at a school, so base your decision on the head coach.  Do you trust them?  Do they have a philosophy that you believe in?  Will they inspire you?  Are they determined to make you great, or are you just another piece of the puzzle?

2.     Pay attention to their academic reputation.  Most schools in Canada have strong academic reputations.  In the US, there are so many schools and so many options, that a number of them won’t serve you well after graduation.  If you have the opportunity to attend a strong academic school in the US, give a really good look because those opportunities are tremendous.

3.     Visit the school.  Is it somewhere that you think you’ll be comfortable at?  Is it urban or rural, and which setting are you looking for? 

4.     Meet the team.  Do they get along and support each other, or is it an individual atmosphere?

5.     Talk to your family, but don’t let them make the decision for you.  Your parents will always guide you in the right direction, but know that they will always want you close to home.  Seek their input, but make this YOUR decision.

6.     What do you want out of your experience?  What do you want to achieve athletically?  Academically?  Culturally?  Will this school deliver in all three of those areas?

Best of luck in this process and remember that this is your journey.  Feel free to step out of your comfort zone.  I certainly did, and I wouldn’t trade a single moment of my experience at Columbia.  I ran fast, I set records, I left with a world-class education, and most importantly, I made the best friends in the world, and these are guys that I wouldn’t have met if I settled for something comfortable.

Three Things Track and Field Athletes Should Understand About College Track and Field Recruiting

College Track and Field Recruiting

The NCAA currently reports that over 1.5 million boys and girls participate in high school track & field and cross country. Of those 1.5 million participants, only 85,000-90,000 will compete in college, or approximately 4-7% depending upon event and gender. A large majority of that 4-7% will be asked to walk-on and not receive any athletic money.

As a result, it is imperative that you devise a plan of action early on in your high school career. You have worked too hard and sacrificed far too much to idly wait for the process to begin. Take control of your destiny in the same way you have your academic and athletic endeavors. The recruiting process will require the same such commitment from you.

Below are three factors to considering when searching for the college of your dreams.

DETERMINE THE BEST FIT FOR YOU

During your freshmen and sophomore years create an expansive list of schools/programs that meet your specific needs and desires. Among factors to consider are affiliation level (NCAA I, II, III, NAIA, and JUCO), the competitiveness of the program, cost of attendance, quality of education, geographical location, intended academic major, enrollment size, public vs private, and other factors that matter to YOU.

Do not be mesmerized by the name of a school. See beyond the prowess of their football and basketball programs or their academic reputation. Make sure the school you choose meets your needs for reasons beyond it simply being cool to tell the world you will be running or studying at a particular school. Remember, you have to live, study, train and compete there every day for four years. Many brilliant scholars and successful professionals have attended state schools with less than brilliant academic reputations. Additionally, many NCAA I mid-major athletes have claimed NCAA National Championships on the team and individual level. In fact, at this year’s NCAA National Outdoor Track & Field Championships nearly 33% of the participants represented non-Power 5 schools – three were crowned NCAA National Champion and an additional 14 scored for their teams by placing in the top eight. Furthermore, US Olympian and World Championship Silver Medalist, Nick Symmonds competed at the NCAA III level while in college.

Plain and simple, choose a school that you would be happy at without track and field - just in case your athletic career does not go as planned.

TAKE CHARGE

Do not be passive. At the conclusion of your freshman year and throughout your sophomore year, start reaching out to college coaches from the schools on your list. In my personal dealings with high school student-athletes, I often heard prospects state that the schools on their list were comprised solely of programs that contacted them. If a program you’re interested in does not reach out to you, reach out to them! You will be surprised at how effective personally reaching out will enhance your recruiting experience. There could be many factors why a school has not reached out to you – one being as simple as you not receiving the letter that was sent to your HS coach or guidance college – this happens more than imagined.

During the summer after your sophomore year and throughout the course of your junior year, take as many unofficial visits as possible. This will give you an opportunity to meet the coach in person, tour the college, check out the athletic facilities, and possibly meet current team members. There is no limit on the number of unofficial visits that you can take – so take many!

During your senior year schedule and take all five allowable official visits. Your decision is far too important and impactful not to explore all possibilities. If the majority of your visits require extensive travel speak to the coaches about combining two visits into one trip to cut down on flights across the country, particularly if in-season.

COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY

Over the span of my thirty-year coaching career, I learned that communication is the most important element in reaching your goals. It is imperative that you learn to communicate openly and effectively with your parents, high school coach, and college coaches.

Ask your parents to help you create a series of questions to ask college coaches, begin to narrow your list of potential schools, and arrange the logistical aspects of visit coordination. However, you should be the primary voice writing the emails, taking the phone calls, and asking questions.

Clearly articulate your specific running goals to your high school coach. Ask them to create a sound developmental training plan that will allow you to fully actualize your athletic potential over the span of your high school career. Seek their advice on potential options for you to continue your athletic career based on their past experiences and ask them to email college coaches on your behalf.

Three Things Track and Field Parents Should Understand Going Into The Recruiting Process

Track Recruiting

During my thirty-year college coaching career, I have had direct contact with approximately 10,000 cross country/track and field recruits. One of the most common remarks made to me by their parents was how challenging it is to navigate the recruiting process, particularly if it is your first time. Identifying the right school and program for your child presents an even greater challenge. The copious amounts of information you will receive from college coaches, other parents, former and current college athletes and the staff members at your high school will undoubtedly prove daunting. You have your work cut out for you, but if you start to logically piece together a plan of action you will be just fine.

I have had significant experience interacting with recruits of varying degrees of ability; from the number ranked athlete in the USA to a high school cross country team’s seventh runner. There is a place for everyone, whether it be at a power five school, an Ivy League institution, an NCAA I mid-major driven by revenue income generation for the university through increased enrollment or NCAA Division II / III and NAIA schools.

Over the course of my coaching career, I have identified a few basic principles that are applicable throughout the recruiting process, regardless of your child’s level of ability. The most critically important underlying themes that parents need to understand going into this process are as follows:

1. THIS IS A BUSINESS. You and your child are looking for the best deal possible. In turn, the coach who is recruiting you is looking for the very best athletes they can sign. Even in the sport of track and field, there is great pressure upon coaches to win. While I was a college coach, I had bonuses written into my contract that would pay me an additional 15-50% of my annual income based solely upon performance. It is important to not lose sight of this fact, however, this endeavor is an oddly two-sided process. You have the business aspect on one side, but you also have a personal relationship between the coach and athlete on the other side of the equation. The relationship in many ways will determine the success of this business endeavor. The relationship your child possesses with his coach will impact your child’s overall college experience and quality of their running career. If at all possible, don’t simply settle for the money – there is too much at stake. Fight for the best deal that you are able to obtain, but don’t give away quality of life for the deal.

2. EMPOWER YOUR CHILD - As a coach, one of the biggest red flags our staff identified during the early stages of the recruiting process was an overly involved parent. I cannot enumerate the number of times a comment such as “can we truly trust this person in the heat of battle” if their parents do everything for them” was uttered. It is imperative that you have your child initiate all communication throughout the recruiting process. I would suggest strict adherence to the following areas;

· Do not send e-mails on their behalf – it lessens their viability. As a coach, I received far too many “I know they are my son/daughter, but they are truly amazing” letters and e-mails.

· Make them speak even when they do not want to – they should answer the phone and ask the questions. You are not a screening service. If the coach is not important enough for you to speak with - eliminate that school from your shortlist.

· Let them shine – On official or unofficial visits take a backseat to your child. Let them read from the list of questions you created together. Avoid speaking on their behalf or interjecting to clarify for them. Walk a couple of steps behind when touring the campus so they may converse directly to the coach or student host.

3. KNOW YOUR ROLE - Although it is important to give your child independence and let them lead the way– guide them! Help them eliminate programs and schools to move forward in a logical direction to narrow down their options. Review their correspondences to coaches to ensure that their intent matches their wording. Help them weed through all of the hype of the recruiting pitches they will hear. In track and field, every program will sell themselves as up and coming – most aren’t! Do your research and try to determine if team members are quitting if they have an alarming number of injuries if there is truly a positive trajectory toward improvement.

The entire recruiting process can be daunting if you do not do your research. However, if you create a sound plan of attack it will be an amazing experience. You are helping your child with a critical step in their lives– do it wisely!

JACK BOYLE - HOW I MADE MY COLLEGE DECISION

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"Finding a School that will Keep Your Fire Going" - Jack Boyle

Whenever I think of athletes transitioning to from high school to college running one phenomenon that I tend to think about is why do some runners seamlessly enter the college ranks and have equal to greater success than in high school, and why do some on the other hand struggle to even maintain their past fitness and times. Obviously, each situation is different, some runners struggle with injuries, differences in training, or simply being away from home for the first time. These outside influences can clearly impact how an athlete will transition from one level to the next. When an athlete who was a blue-chip recruit or who came from a nationally ranked high school program (like myself - CBA in NJ) struggles, I often hear the term burn out associated with them when things don’t go as well in college as they did in high school. Yes, many of the external factors I mentioned may play into why certain athletes struggle in the NCAA despite immense high school success; however, I also feel like it might not have been so much one specific thing that caused the struggles but instead a combination of elements in their new situation that caused their former passion for the sport to diminish. When I think about what makes a successful track athlete passion for the sport is paramount. Most top high school coaches are able to make their athletes believe that track is not some inferior sport, but instead it is an exciting sport that can become a lifestyle. By encouraging this type of passion many high school athletes are instilled with a fire for the sport that is fed more and more as they continue to have more success and enjoyment with the sport. The transition to college can be tough as it can flip everything upside down and all of a sudden it can be unclear where this fire will be fed from. That it is why is important for high schoolers, before they even begin talking with schools, think about what makes them passionate about the sport (what feeds their fire) and try to ask each school the right questions to see if the passions are shared. For me, I came out of an elite high school program, and I wanted to find a program that had similar expectations to compete at nationals. I knew also that I was very self-motivated (at times too much maybe), but that it was important to be a part of a team with shared goals or else we could never achieve anything. I also had a goal to contribute right away wherever I went because I felt I would transition well to the longer distances in college and did not to redshirt. That is why I tried to ask each coach I visited with where they saw their program going, and what they felt I could do during my freshmen year. After I visited with Coach Wood and the Columbia team I knew this was a situation where my fire and passion would burn strong and be fed so that I could continue to grow and succeed in the sport. That is why asking the right questions that pertain specifically to you is essential during the recruiting process to ensure that you end up in the right situation where your fire for the sport can be constantly fed, and even if you struggle during the immediate transition to college your passion will remain which will ensure that you have the opportunity for future success in the sport.

Jack Boyle - Columbia University 3,000m - 8:14.10 , 5000m - 14:24.45, 10000m - 29:35.83

Recruiting Advice For Current Junior Track and Field Athletes

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You are already halfway through your junior year of high school and you will be a senior in eight months. Many programs have completed their recruiting classes for this year and are now focusing their efforts on next year's class -- this year's juniors. As it is now permissible for college coaches to call juniors, the recruiting process has already begun. To ensure that you take full advantage of this process, here are a few suggestions to help you find the right fit for you.

1. Cast A Wide Net

Your junior year is about seeing what's out there and what kind of school might be a good fit for you. If you have not yet done so create an expansive list of schools/programs that meet your specific needs and desires. Among factors to consider are affiliation (NCAA I, II, III, NAIA and JUCO), competitiveness of the program, cost of attendance, quality of education, geographical location, intended academic major, enrollment size, public vs private, and other factors that matter to you.  

Think about what may impact your athletic experience the most like coaching style, athlete retention, and success of the program. Determine if you are a good fit athletically -- many schools post their recruiting standards online.  

Know what the academic requirements are for the schools you are considering to determine if you are potentially admissible.  

Continually revise your list. During my coaching career, I often saw recruits close doors too early. They would rule out programs in their junior year of high school based on a variety of factors and then end up scrambling in the end when Plan A did not work out. Make sure to keep Plan B in play as to not have to settle for Plan C at the last minute.

2. Fill Out Online Recruiting Questionnaires

The online recruiting questionnaire is a good first and simple means to initiate communication with a program. It allows the coach to assess if you are a good fit for their program. In a recent interview with the Recruiting Code, Duke University head women's cross country coach Rhonda Riley was asked, "What are the important steps for an athlete to get noticed by you?" She responded, "The two ways to get on my radar are to fill out our online questionnaire and to follow up with an email. When a high school athlete takes the time to send an email with their contact information, personal best marks, academic information etc. it means they are serious about considering Duke as a potential university." Online recruiting questionnaires are typically very easy to find on individual schools' track and field websites.

3. Contact College Coaches

Over the span of my 30-year coaching career, I learned that communication is the most important element to reaching your goals. If you have not yet started -- start reaching out to college coaches from the schools on your list. You will be surprised at how effective personally reaching out to coaches will enhance your recruiting experience.  

Proofread every email before hitting send. A great deal of communication in the early phases of the recruiting process is going to be cut and paste on both sides, however, making a simple mistake can dehumanize the process and render the remainder of your communication less credible. Make sure you are addressing the proper institution and coach. I cannot tell you how many emails I received from recruits specifically addressed to a rival coach expressing their interest in a rival school.  

Send updates on a regular basis.  Most coaches receive dozens of emails from recruits each day so it's important that you keep yourself on their radar.

4. Take The ACT / SAT

Register and take the SAT/ACT during your junior year. If you feel adequately prepared, I would suggest taking the test in the fall of your junior year. This will allow you plenty of time to take it for the second time in the spring. Everyone's test prep is going to vary based on their own strengths, weaknesses, schedule, and goals. At the very minimum, though, all students should try to put in 10 hours of focused test prep, at least to get familiar with the format and timing of the test. Realistically, you would need to put in much more time over a sustained period to do well.

However, if you are not ready to take the test do not view it as a test-run. Do not take the test until you have prepared to do so at a level that is reflective of your academic potential.

If you are considering attending a highly selective academic institution taking the test earlier will significantly enhance your recruitment. Most selective schools will not vigorously pursue a potential-student athlete without test scores to determine admissibility.

5. Utilize Unofficial Visits

Unofficial visits can help you gather significant information about individual programs and schools. This time will allow you an opportunity to meet the coach in person, tour the college, check out the athletic facilities, and possibly meet current team members.

Do your homework - know who and where you are visiting. Have a keen understanding of the unique strengths of each school and team, as it will show the respective coaching staff how serious you are about their program. Use this time to learn as much as you can about the program and coaching staff. Identify the factors that will be most important to you in determining if you will return for an official visit. Have a short list of specific questions ready that address the most critical factors in your college decision.

There is no imposed limit on the number of unofficial visits you may take, so take as many as possible. There is no better tool to help you hone in on the best school/program for you.

In summary:  

Your junior year is quickly passing and it is time to start seriously considering where you want to continue your academic and athletic pursuits. Do not be passive -- start reaching out to college coaches now. Be aggressive in your outreach and email every program that you are interested in, regardless of the perceived reach. Be your own greatest advocate and take charge of your future.

RECRUITING ADVICE FOR CURRENT SENIOR TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETES

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COLLEGE TRACK AND FIELD RECRUITING - WILLY WOOD

The Early Signing Period has come and gone. If you are a senior and find yourself not being heavily recruited or with no real viable college options it is time to reevaluate your college search process. There is still time before April 8, 2018, signing date to devise a new strategy and create a new outreach plan.

First, it is imperative to identify the why’s behind your current non-recruitment status. If coaches from the schools on your list are not responding to your communications, they are most likely not interested. If you have yet to hear from programs not on your list, they either do not know about you or they are not interested.

Unfortunately, if they are not interested in you as a recruit there is very little that you can do other than improving upon your current marks during the indoor or early outdoor season. However, if it is because they don’t know about you – there is still time.

If you want to compete in college here are six things you should be doing.

1. Try, try again – and, then move on.

Send one more e-mail or make one more phone call to the programs you have an interest in who have not yet contacted you or responded back to your previous communications. I would suggest an email expressing your sincere desire to attend their school and compete for them directed to both the Head Coach and the event coach who would be coaching you. If you still don’t hear back from them it is probably time to cross them off of your list.

2. Reach out to schools that have reached out to you.

Go through your old e-mails, letters of inquiry, questionnaires, generic correspondences and create a list of every school that has contacted you. Reach out to these programs and start a dialogue if you haven’t yet. You may be pleasantly surprised and find a good fit for you at a place you are not currently considering. At this point in time, you are trying to create a list of options – you can always say no at a later date. Ideally, it would be nice to have choices and to be in a position to say no to a few schools. Concentrate your efforts on programs that have shown an interest in you.

3. Expand your search

If you are not being recruited, you have three primary options. The first would be to have a great senior year and wait it out. However, this could prove extremely stressful and place a lot of pressure on you. The second option would be to contemplate not competing in college. In my opinion, this is a terrible choice if you enjoy competing! Thirdly, you can expand your search and find a school where you can compete. Reevaluate your goals and desires and be realistic. Identify different types of schools and different levels of programs than you have previously been considering. Because you are a senior, you should do this immediately. Identify numerous new schools that match your current athletic and academic levels of achievement.

4. Create a different means of outreach

If e-mails are not working, try Twitter, give them a call, send a letter or visit the campus and stop by their office to introduce yourself. Do what you have to do to get noticed. The goal is to start a conversation.

5. Enlist the Help of your High School Coach

If you are not making progress on your own enlist the help of your high school coach. Ask your current coach to review your list of schools and to offer truthful and critical feedback on what programs/schools are viable options for you. Also, ask them for suggestions to expand your list. After you reach out to these programs ask your coach to send a follow-up email on your behalf identifying your personal strengths and potential as a runner. Be sure to make it easy for your high school coach to do this for you. Provide them with the contact information of the college coaches and all of the pertinent information they will need to speak on positively your behalf.

6. Enlist the help of a third-party

If you are still not generating the type of response you are looking for try to find an additional source of help. Contact current college runners you know at schools you have an interest in, alums who ran in college with a keen understanding of current recruiting trends, family friends with direct contacts to coaching staffs and recruiting services with real connections and access to the inside. Enlist all of the help you can get – you are competing for your future.

In summary:

This is your senior this year and if you want to compete in college but are not being recruited, you need to change your approach. You either need to start a more vigorous outreach campaign or redirect your focus to generate more interest in you as a recruit. Take advantage of the next few months to get noticed, recruited and find the best fit for you.

COLLEGE TRACK AND FIELD RECRUITING -Ivy League Track and Field Recruiting

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COLLEGE TRACK AND FIELD RECRUITING / IVY LEAGUE ATHLETIC RECRUITING by Willy Wood

Each year, Ivy League coaches use approximately 250 admission's spots on track and field/cross country recruits. Typically the divide between men's and women's programs is fairly equitable, leaving approximately 125 spots for each gender. Here is a list of factors to consider if you are hoping to compete and attend an Ivy.

1. START EARLY

Based on my 20 years as the head coach at Columbia University and recent conversations with many current Ivy League coaches, I estimate that approximately 75-80% of recruits apply with early decision. As a result, it is imperative that you get an early start on the recruiting process. Because of recent NCAA contact rule changes, coaches are now able to start calling you on September 1 of your junior year. Therefore, it is imperative that you ensure that you are on coach's radars prior to the start of your junior year. 

2. DON'T BE DISCOURAGED

 The idea of pursuing an Ivy can be somewhat intimidating due to impossibly low admission acceptance rates and the total cost of education. However, both areas of concern may be surprisingly less of a factor than you initially imagine.

It is not impossible to get into an Ivy League school: I cannot tell you how many recruits and future matriculants were told by their high school guidance counselors that they had no chance of being accepted and were discouraged to apply.

A great majority of outsiders grossly underestimate the value of athletics in the admission's process. If you are a great athlete, you will be able to overcome many perceived academic deficiencies. There are student-athletes being admitted to Ivy League schools who score in the 1100s on the SAT and 25 on the ACT.

Ivy League Schools can be affordable: It is possible that an Ivy can be among your cheaper financial options. When Harvard, Princeton and Yale changed how they calculate their financial aid awards a few years ago, Ivy League schools became very affordable for many prospects. Quite often while I was at Columbia, we would be among the cheaper options for many of our recruits. Most, if not all of the schools have financial aid online calculators that will give you an early indication of the cost of attendance. Do not be discouraged by the initial price tag. Approximately 60-percent of students attending an Ivy League school receive financial aid. On average, those students receive over $45,000 in grant money.

3. DETERMINE IF YOU ARE A GOOD FIT ACADEMICALLY

 Ivy League schools are significantly better athletically than most people realize. In my last season at Columbia, we were ranked sixth in the NCAA national cross country poll. Over the last 10 years, 12 Ivy League student-athletes have become NCAA Division I national champions. Most of the programs post their recruiting standards online. Generally speaking, you are going to have to be very close to me marks listed below to get serious attention from an Ivy League coach.

If you are an athlete at or just below the standards listed below, you are going to have to be a very, very strong student.

EVENT MEASUREMENT ESTIMATES - BOYS/GIRLS

  • 100: 10.90 12.20

  • 200: 22.00 25.00

  • 400: 49.00 56.50

  • 800: 1:54 2:14

  • 1600: 4:15 5:00

  • 3200: 9:20 11:00

  • 110/100H: 14.4 14.4

  • 300H: 38.5 44.0

  • LJ: 22 ' 6" 18' 6"

  • TJ: 47' 38'

  • HJ: 6' 7" 5' 6"

  • PV: 15' 11'9"

  • SP: 56' 44'

  • Dis: 170' 140'

  • Jav: 190' 130'

  • Hammer: 185' 155'4.

RESEARCH SCHOOLS - HOW THEY USE THEIR SPOTS 

The Ivy League office determines the overall number of admissions spots that may be used by an athletic department. Each individual athletics program may determine how to distribute those spots. As a result, there is a great disparity amongst individual programs. If you are set on applying to an Ivy, do your research to determine how each program uses their slots. For example, when I was at Columbia our men used primarily all of our admissions spots on the middle distance and distance events while our women distributed our slots between the sprints, jumps, hurdles and distance events fairly evenly.


In addition, each program is allotted a different number of recruits and how they are able to support each year. I would suggest looking at past recruit class announcements to get a general idea of how many spots they may have.

APPLY EARLY

Typically, the early decision deadline is November 1. To significantly enhance your chances of getting a spot from the coach and ultimately gain admittance, you should apply early. To be ready to apply early, you should take your official visit in September and October. After your official visits are concluded and you have identified your top choice, you should verbally commit to one of the schools and ask for a 'Likely Letter.'

WHAT IS A 'LIKELY LETTER'

The Ivy League does not use the NCAA National Letter of Intent program. Instead, they have what is called a 'Likely Letter.' The Likely Letter is the Ivy League's answer to the NLI and brings some certainty to the recruiting process. Likely Letters are provided to recruited student-athletes before official notification from the admissions office arrives. Typically, to receive a Likely Letter you will have to verbally commit to the coach, submit your application for approval from the admissions office and have completed an early financial aid estimate to ensure affordability. The Likely Letter gives you the assurance that the school will grant you acceptance when the letters are sent out.

WHAT IF I DECIDE THE IVY'S ARE NOT FOR ME OR I AM NOT OFFERED

If you find yourself just outside of the Ivy League recruiting standards or did not find a good fit for you and still want to attend a top tier academic institution, you still have options. I would suggest looking at schools such as The University of Chicago, MIT, John's Hopkins, Washington University, Emory, Tufts, Williams, Swarthmore, Amherst, Middlebury, RPI and NYU.

Each of these schools are among the top ranked academic schools in the country and have had very successful track and field and cross country programs. Typically, their recruiting process mirrors that of the Ivy League.

A COUPLE COMMON SENSE DO'S & DON'TS

DON'T oversell yourself as a student. It is imperative that you express to the coaches or with whom you are speaking how important the athletic piece is to you. Coaches are going to want to have confidence in your drive and motivation to succeed athletically. Furthermore, never express to a coach how stressed you are because of your high school class load. My initial thought was always, "how will they ever survive the rigors of our academic and athletic demands if high school is overwhelming them."


DO stay the course if an Ivy League school is what you want. A coach's priority list will change significantly throughout the course of the fall as recruits start saying no, decide they cannot afford the school or are deemed inadmissible by the admissions office.


DON'T get a "C"! Remember, your admission's process will differ slightly from that of a non-supported applicant. As an athlete, they will look for reasons to take you as opposed to reasons not to. Getting a "C" on your transcript makes it significantly more difficult for a coach to help you.


DO make every attempt to visit each school that you are interested in and to meet with one of the coaches. Meeting with a coach allows you the opportunity to sell yourself. If you are a borderline recruit, it is imperative that you become more than your PR and SAT score. 

In summary, recruiting within the Ivy League is an intense business. The Ivies are top academic institutions that take their athletics very seriously. Because there are so few admissions spots to go around, Ivy coaches will compete very hard for the same athletes. If you are a top-tier athlete coaches will push you for an early decision commitment. If you are a borderline recruit you will need a plan of attack to obtain one of the precious 250 available spots.

COLLEGE TRACK AND FIELD RECRUITING - How to Effectively Utilize Your Official Visit: Questions To Ask As Student-Athletes

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by Willy Wood

Your official visits will determine where you attend school and which team you compete for. According to NCAA regulations, you are allowed only five official visit opportunities, so you will want to make the most of your time spent on each campus.

Official visits are the single most effective way to learn as much as you can about the schools and programs you are considering. For a complete list of NCAA rules and regulations governing Official Visits see here:

http://www.ncaa.org/student-athletes/future/eligibility-center/what-official-visit

Each school you visit will have their own specific methods of introducing you to their programs. Some schools fully utilize the 48-hour allowable timeframe while others feel it is more effective to end the visit after 24 hours. Some schools will have you attend an official admissions campus tour while others will have their student-athletes show you around. Regardless of the specific agenda for your visit, you can expect the same basic itinerary- tour the campus and athletic facilities, meet the team, speak with the coaches, and explore the community.

Make no mistake, coaches view your official visit as one of the most important elements of your recruitment. You will be shown the most impressive buildings, eat at the best spots, stay in one of the nicer dorm rooms or hotels, and be told repeatedly how wonderful the campus and program are. This is the coach's job and you can be assured they will put their best foot forward. It is your job to see beyond the tree-lined quad and smiling faces and determine if this school and program is the best fit for you.

The areas where I encourage you to take a closer look will impact your quality of life as a student-athlete. Beyond speaking to the coaches about training methodologies, program philosophy, and goals of the program learn as much as you are able from the current-student athletes.

To do so, I suggest preparing a series of questions that you can ask off the cuff. Ask current team members questions in an informal manner when eating dinner, on your way to a movie, or while on a run. Create a specific list of questions based on what is most important to you. Remember: you are not visiting you are there to decide where you will spend your next four years. Here are some questions to ask:

FACILITIES

How much time is required to commute back and forth to and from training sites?

When does the track team actually have access to the facility they are showing you - particularly shared indoor turf fields that the football team also uses?

How often do you run from campus and how often do you travel to trails?

SPORT'S MEDICINE SUPPORT

Is there an athletic trainer assigned specifically to the team?

Do you have access to the training room on the weekends, even after early Sunday morning long runs?

What type of preventive measures are used - ice baths, NormaTec, etc?

Does the school have easy access to an Altra G and/or an underwater treadmill?

Do they offer adequate support with physical therapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists?

ACADEMIC SUPPORT

Are study hall hours required of all student-athletes?

What type of access is there to tutors?

What type of walk-in support is provided?

Do athletes get preferential treatment when enrolling for classes?

PRACTICE

What time of the day do you practice?

Is there an athletic trainer on-site during practice?

Are nutritional needs adequately addressed on-site - water and post-workout recovery foods/drinks?

EQUIPMENT

How many training shoes will you receive throughout the course of the year?

How often are spikes replaced?

What will your training kit consist of?

Will you receive adequate warm/cold weather and rain gear?

TEAM TRAVEL

Who goes?

What criteria are used to determine travel squads?

Are there alternative meets if you don't make the travel team?

PRE-PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT

Is there a full-time staff member in the area of professional development specifically within the athletic department?

How supportive are the alumni in helping athletes find internships?

Will someone assist you in creating a resume and letter of application?

What are they doing to assist you with finding a job upon graduation?

STUDENT LIFE

What does a typical Saturday night consist of?

Does the team party and drink?

Do team members live together?

Where does the majority of the team live - residence halls or off-campus?

What is the food like - are there adequate healthy food options?

Remember, you are using your official visits to determine where you will study and run for the next four years. Use this limited time wisely. It is important to understand that the coaching staff and team members are evaluating you as well. Enjoy yourself and get to know as many people as you can, knowing that when you leave campus the coach will ask the team about their perceptions of you.

Leave a positive impression, and remember do not be afraid to ask questions!