Recruiting Advice

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

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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

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

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.