JACK BOYLE - HOW I MADE MY COLLEGE DECISION

COLLEGE TRACK AND FIELD RECRUITING

IVY LEAGUE ATHLETIC RECRUITING

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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 Juniors

COLLEGE TRACK AND FIELD RECRUITING

 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.

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 SENIORS – COLLEGE TRACK AND FIELD RECRUITING

College Track and Field Recruiting

  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 the 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 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 - 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 the 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 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

COLLEGE TRACK AND FIELD RECRUITING / IVY LEAGUE ATHLETIC 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.

Three Months and counting!

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Our three-month anniversary has just passed and it is with great excitement and pleasure that I report on our current successes and progress. Our efforts are proving extremely fruitful for our clients.

The next eight weeks is going to be a very exciting time for the young men and women we are currently consulting through both our recruiting service and personal coaching.  We have been instrumental in helping numerous set-up official visits over the next two months and look forward to providing an insider's perspective that will allow our student-athletes to make the best decisions for themselves. Here is an abbreviated list of where our students will be taking official visits this fall: US Naval Academy, Harvard, Yale, Brown, University of Chicago, Washington University (St L), John’s Hopkins. Concurrently, our junior student-athletes are getting interest from schools such as Northern Arizona University, Wake Forest, Penn and Cornell, and their recruiting process has already begun.

We have also had great success in the area of personal coaching. Five of the six high school runners we are currently coaching PR’d in cross country this Fall at their very first meet of the season!   

We are literally making a difference – see how below:

Current Athlete – “broke the school record and am the number 1 junior in the state – huge pr for me. Hard work and consistency has paid off. Thank you coach” 

Current NCAA I Head Coach - “Willy, Thanks for reaching out to me.  I certainly like hearing about prospects from you more than competing with you to sign them up!!!  I hope all is well.  I know you will be great in this new venture.”

Current Recruit – “ I just received my Letter of Assurance from the Naval Academy so I will be going there next year! Thank you so much!!

Former Recruit – “Signed NLI today!!! Thanks man, you have been a blessing to our family”

Current Recruit’s Parent - “Big thanks for all the time you spent on the phone with me tonight.  It's really great advice and insight! We have drafted an email and I tweaked it a tad...but, would love for you to weigh in… “Thanks for that great feedback on the email we received” 

Current NCAA I Head Ivy League Coach – “At this point, your times are outside of our recruiting standards but based on Willy Wood’s recommendation, we would like to move forward and invite you to our Junior Day”

Current Recruit – “ Coach Wood I have have heard from six coaches already and it hasn’t even been three hours since signing up. Thanks!”

COLLEGE TRACK AND FIELD RECRUITING - How I Made My College Decision - Nico Composto

Find A Family - COLLEGE TRACK AND FIELD RECRUITING

NICO COMPOSTO - DISTANCE RUNNER - COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY / LOYOLA HIGH SCHOOL (CHICAGO)

Picking which college you are going to attend is one of the coolest choices you will make in your life. You get to pick where you are going to spend four years and, more importantly, with whom you are going to spend those years. My name is Nico Composto. I ran under Coach Wood at Columbia University, where I enjoyed nearly every day of the four years I spent in New York with the Columbia team. I really believe that the reason I had such an awesome college experience is because when I was being recruited, I considered one factor more than any other in picking a college: I chose the school with a team that acted most like a family. I will be honest with you, when I was in high school, I didn’t fit in. I was a skinny kid with a bowl cut, who wore cargo shorts a little too frequently. My legs were like tooth-picks coming out of the gaping leg-holes of my shorts. I never stood a chance.

From the beginning of high school, anytime I tried to approach a girl my tongue got all dry and the best I could do was squeeze out a “Hi,” avoid eye-contact and retreat to the nearest corner to process my embarrassment. Running, though, always made me feel at home. I could go out and pound miles anytime I wanted. I just loved watching myself get faster. That is the coolest thing about running, you can tangibly see your times drop as you improve. Sadly, this didn’t lead to me being nominated Prom King. So, as I began looking at college, I insisted on finding the team that I loved most. Sure, I wanted to go to a good school, but that didn’t matter as much to me as finding the people I wanted to be around. I wanted to be on a team that threw out one-liners like it was a Rodney Dangerfield movie. I wanted friends that would force me to talk to the girls who made my mouth fill up with cotton, and who would only make fun of me a little when I was eventually rejected. I wanted a team that trained like animals every day, clawing from the bottom and trying to beat teams that are etched in the history of cross-country greatness. I didn’t want to go to Oregon or Wisconsin or Villanova… I wanted to be on the team that beat them even when no one knew who we were.

Well I found that team. Just before my senior year in high school I talked to a friend who was running in college and he told me to look at Columbia if I wanted to be a good runner. My response, “Who is Columbia?” One of the best schools in the world and no one west of Philadelphia has ever heard of it. But that was what I wanted. I wanted to be on a team that no one had heard of and to grow that team with a group of friends. That’s what we did. The recruiting coach at Columbia was my first contact. He made sure to constantly tell me that if I went to Columbia, we would do great things. That is the first thing I would look for in finding your college running family: Find a coach who genuinely wants you on the team, who believes in you and believes in the program. Find the coach you trust the most. If they sound like they are selling snake oil, they probably are. Find the coach with integrity.

My next step in picking Columbia was to find the team with whom I best fit. For me, it took about five minutes on my official visit to know that Columbia was the place for me. All the guys seemed so tight. They made fun of each other more than any group of people I had ever met. By the end of the visit, they were making fun of me. I knew I was at home. I knew I was going to go there because I felt like I couldn’t let these guys down and I also knew that they would never let me down.

To anyone looking to run in college I would recommend making your top priority finding a group of people with whom you feel most at home. At the end of the day, those people, your coaches and team, are who you are going to spend most of your time with in your four years as an athlete. You should love those people. I can’t guarantee that every day will be perfect and that things won’t tough. But if you find a family instead of just an athletic team, you will love college and love running and love life.

Looking Back- Waverly Neer

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What I Wish I Had Known

WAVERLY NEER - DISTANCE - UNIVERSITY OF OREGON, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY / CULVER ACADEMY (IN)

Waverly was a High School and NCAA Division I All-American. She was the former High School Indoor 5000m National Record Holder and the 2011 3000m Champion at the USA Junior National Championships. She has Personal Bests of 9:08 - 3000m, 15:37 - 5000m, and 33:26 - 10000m and is currently a professional runner for the NJNYTC. 

Here's the small things you should know: pack lots of socks, you're going to do laundry a lot less than you anticipate. Don't wear your lanyard around your neck, that is unless you want everyone to know you're a freshman. And, save your per diem from travel, that money will add up over four years!

Alright, now that we have those things out of the way, let's real talk. You're nervous; you don't know what to expect. That's OK! Here’s advice that will help you find your way: Know what has made you a successful athlete. You don't need a new tool set now that you're in college. Recognize your strengths, and hold true to them. Self-confidence goes far in your training, your racing, and your relationships. Don't strive to be any of the athletes you see around you. Recognize what works for them, may not work for you. Accept that difference, and don't get sidetracked by the noise and extras.

Ask questions, you're not on your own. Remember your coaches and teammates were once in your shoes. They are eager to help and trust me, they want to see you succeed. See yourself as an investment. Sure, there are some things you'll need to figure out on your own. Welcome to the next level. But if you are struggling, don't let too much water rise under the bridge. You only get four years to become great. Talk to your teammates, find your way to your coach’s office, and listen! It's amazing how much you'll learn when you accept that you don't know it all.

Strive to be a teammate and competitor you would cheer for. No matter if your own workout was great, or not so great, give your teammates a high-five at the end. Tell them, “nice job”. Maintain a positive attitude, and be a team player. Positive or negative, the people around you will recognize your actions, so make sure you're building a reputation you are proud of. No matter what shape you’re in, injured, or healthy, work to always positively contribute to your environment.

Lastly, do something once a week, outside of running and school, that makes you happy. Something small, it doesn't have to be crazy but pick up a new hobby, an outside interest, something to keep challenging yourself. There will be times when school isn't going well, or when running has been put on the back burner due to an injury. In these times, you'll learn to lean more heavily on your other interests to maintain your happiness and identity. In this first year of college, strive to be a well-rounded person. It will pay off in the end! Besides, this is the time to explore. To invent yourself. Don't waste the opportunity.

Dear Freshmen Self, it's going to be a fun, crazy, sometimes smooth, other times bumpy road. Don't let the highs become too high, nor the lows too low. Things will happen that you may never have predicted. But the most fantastic part of it all, is that it's entirely your own story and journey. You'll share the road with a collection of interesting and inspiring people. But remember, you always get to choose your route. And it starts now... ready, set, go!

COLLEGE TRACK RECRUITING - How I Made My College Decision - Mike Murphy

Finding your "X" Factor - COLLEGE TRACK AND FIELD RECRUITING / IVY LEAGUE RECRUITING

MIKE MURPHY - DISTANCE RUNNER - COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY / BROTHER RICE (MI) - NCAA I ALL-AMERICAN

Deciding where to go for college is one of the first big life decisions most high school students ever have to make.  Having the luxury of being recruited to continue an athletic pursuit at the collegiate level makes the decision more fun, but not necessarily easier.  While your friends are agonizing over their standardized test scores, you’re landing in a new city for a college visit.  As a 17-year-old from the suburbs of Detroit, receiving letters from top tier schools trying to sell me on their program was humbling.  Connecting with the coaches and learning about the schools was exciting.  Hopping on an airplane to visit the school and live like a college student for a weekend was simply unbelievable. 

Throughout the recruiting process, it is tempting to try to narrow down your choices with black and white questions: “what is the best academic school I can get into?” or “what is the fastest team I can get a spot on?”  While I do not intend to write these off as trivial, I would urge any high school athlete being recruited to dig a little deeper and ask themselves “where do I think I will be happiest?”  That is what will ultimately lead to the optimal college experience.

When I was being recruited, I spoke with a number of coaches but ultimately narrowed my list of schools down to four: Michigan, Harvard, Yale and Columbia.  With those four, I really couldn’t go wrong as each school had their fair share of objective selling points.  Michigan has strong academics, a solid track program, in-state tuition, scholarship potential, and I would have had a number of friends from High School there.  Harvard…has a reputation that speaks for itself.  Yale is (almost) as prestigious as Harvard and Columbia is a top five academic school in the middle of “The Big Apple.”  If I were trying to be purely objective about the decision I probably could have skipped all of my visits and simply committed to Harvard based on prestige (would have made my parents happy) but it is imperative to take the visits to get a feel for the intangibles.

By definition, these “intangibles” can be hard to pinpoint but as I was going through my visits, I really tried to picture what my day-to-day would look like.  Would I be spending all my time in the library?  Do the guys on the team spend time together or would I need to find other social outlets?  On my Columbia visit, there was an evident camaraderie among the guys on the team.  I had a chance to go on a run with the guys and the conversation was an incredible balance of races, training, and complete nonsense – exactly what I was looking for.  The guys meant business when they were working hard, and had a lot of fun when they weren’t.  That atmosphere is not for everyone, but it was unlike anything else I had seen and I was confident it would suit me well.

After all, your college experience will absolutely not be made or broken in the classroom.  In the same vein, your personal successes or failures on the track will not define you.  The relationships you form with your teammates and coaches are the greatest thing you will learn from and take with you.  On the plane home from my Columbia visit I knew that it was the right place for me.  In just 48 hours I felt a strong connection with the guys on the team, I was impressed by the coaching staff and I was inspired by the energy of New York City.  I could see myself being successful there both academically and athletically and in the end, with the help of my teammates, coaches and friends, that turned out to be the case.  It would have been easy to get blinded by the prestige of Harvard and Yale, or the comfort of Michigan, but ultimately it was the “x-factor” at Columbia that helped me make the right decision.

COLLEGE TRACK RECRUITING - How I Made My College Decision - Thomas Razo

Create A Formula - COLLEGE TRACK AND FIELD RECRUITING

Thomas Razo - Middle Distance - Bradley University / LOCKPORT HS, IL

My personal experience with the recruiting process was that it can be very overwhelming in its early stages.  I remember receiving letters from coaches from smaller schools early in my high school career. At that point, I still had no idea what I wanted to specialize in for an academic major and I was unsure how fast I could run to determine which route I wanted to go (i.e. NCAA, NAIA, Junior College, etc.). 

I was a very mediocre runner my first three years of high school and did not start to become an elite runner in the state until my senior season.  Going into my last year I had no resources available to me to get in touch with college coaches at the schools where I wanted to run.  Luckily, my dad is a high school coach (and was my high school coach) and was very instrumental in getting me connected with college coaches around the nation.  Without his help, I do not know how I would have connected with the coaches I had a chance to talk with throughout the recruiting process.  I began to narrow my choices down based on several factors. 

My parents emphasized from the beginning that the three most important factors to look at when choosing a school are: cost, academic reputation for the program you want to go into, and the ability to run for the team.  Running was very important to me, but I realized it should not be the lone deciding factor in a school.  I went on several official visits and evaluated each scholarship package that was offered to me.  Once the visit portion of the process concluded, I sat down with my family and evaluated each option that was available to me.  Using a simple formula comprised of the three factors I mentioned above (cost, reputation, and running) my choice quickly became apparent.  Bradley University offered me far more opportunities than the other schools I considered could and became my obvious choice. 

After graduating with my Master’s Degree, I sometimes reflect on my 4.5 years at Bradley.  It was filled with many good athletic memories and accomplishments and provided me with a top-notch education.  If I had to do the recruiting process all over again I would not change my decision.  I can honestly say I had the best experience in terms of student-athlete life and academics.  One thing I wish I had available to me in high school, is a recruiting tool I could have used to get on coaches’ radars more quickly than I was able to five years ago.  I think you will find Fast Track Recruiting to be a very useful resource at your disposal.  They have actual connections to large and small programs across the country.  My father has sent many athletes to the next level and spent 30 years developing relationships with some coaches.  However, there are few high school coaches with these connections, therefore having Fast Track Recruiting at your disposal will improve your chances of landing at the right destination and having no regrets.  Everyone should be able to look back at their experience after graduating college and be 100 percent certain they made the right decision for them.

COLLEGE TRACK RECRUITING - Admission Spot vs. Scholarship Money

COLLEGE TRACK AND FIELD RECRUITING

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A Coach's Perspective - COLLEGE TRACK AND FIELD RECRUITING

WILL BOYLAN-PETT: Former Head Coach - NYU; Former Assistant Coach - Columbia University

One of the biggest misnomers in Cross Country /Track and Field recruiting (and non-revenue sports in general) is the fact that so very few athletes are on full ride scholarships.  When you break down the numbers it makes sense; a fully funded men’s team has 12 scholarships and a fully funded women’s team has 18.  Add that to the fact that very few colleges actually fully fund their track and field teams and you can see why few athletes are getting that much scholarship money.  Now while this reality may seem harsh, it does not mean that there is not plenty of opportunities to use your abilities to better your college opportunities. 

One of the most underutilized use of college recruitment is when an athlete gets into a school that they normally would not because they can run fast.  Specifically, coaches in the IVY League and all Division 3 schools, neither of which give merit-based scholarships, can help you gain admission to their schools.  The average SAT score in Harvard’s incoming class is 2260, yet IVY League rules would allow for a coach to take an athlete with a score as low as 1500.  While the guidelines are not as clear in Division 3, the application is still the same, a coach can help you get into a school that you may otherwise not be admitted. 

Now let’s get to the best part: IVY League schools all offer great financial aid packages and Division 3 schools offer financial aid and are allowed to offer non-athletic scholarships.  Not only can you use your athletic prowess to get into a great school, it could also end up being the best financial option.  Unless you are in the rare group that is getting offered full ride scholarships the IVY League or Division 3 schools will many times be the best financial option; beating out partial scholarship offers and in-state tuition options.  Further, most schools offer financial aid calculators so you can get an idea of what the cost would be, there is no waiting game on a coach saying they may be able to give you 25-50% scholarship but are not sure.

The most important part of all of this is making sure you put your name out there!  Let Fast Track Recruiting help you identify which schools would be viable options for you and tell your story to ensure maximum attention from those coaches.  Knowledge of the process and putting yourself out there are the two biggest keys to a successful college recruitment process; let Fast Track lead the way for you and get you results you desire.