Wednesday, February 18, 2009

College Recruiting Question: Does a Letter Mean I'm Getting Recruited?

Parents often ask me whether letters mean their child is a "top recruit" and I have had several parents tell me a laundry list of schools that they thought were recruiting their kid based only on a letter campaign. If you want to know if letters mean that your child is being recruited by a school, the quick answer is no, not yet. Let me share a quick story that will make this all too clear.

There was one (unnamed) school that sent my son more letters than any other school. They never called, never contacted him in any other way, and never came to see him play that we knew of. They requested that he fill out their questionnaire (which he did), but they never followed up with him.

In preparation for a recruiting presentation I was doing where I knew this subject would come up, I decided to see how many letters they had sent. I was guessing 25. When I counted up the letters in his room from this one school, there were 87. That's not a typo--87. After the presentation, I called him at college and told him about it. When I told him how many letters had come from this one school, he laughed and told me that he had thrown away more than half of them.

Clearly, he was on the "if none of our chosen recruits decide to come here" list. There's nothing wrong with a school sending letters to a broad range of kids. You just need to recognize that many of these letters are coming to you from schools and coaches that need to build a database of kids who they can tap if they need to, not because they have an overwhelming interest in your specific kid. So keep it in perspective and know they're only really interested if the letters start to be personal and hand-written, and if they're accompanied by calls and requests for video and game schedules.

Monday, February 9, 2009

College Recruiting Cruises into Spring for Juniors

So it's mid February already and football signing day has come and gone. That means we're getting closer and closer to spring break and if you're a high school junior with hopes of playing in college, time to get it in gear.

You should try to use your spring break to make a college visit or two, just to get an idea of what kind of school you would be comfortable at. You can also use this time to start putting together your profile and video to either send out or post online at one of the recruiting websites.

There's a lot to do in the months ahead. I've tried to lay everything out in Put Me In, Coach: A Parent's Guide to Winning the Game of College Recruiting ( Use the suggestions in the book to layout what you will do month by month. It's a much more manageable task if you take on a little at a time.

Make it a goal to contact at least 10 college coaches in the next month. Pick some schools that look interesting to you, let them know you're interested in learning more about their program, and let them know how to find information about you.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pat Summit Reaches a Summit of Her Own

Today, Pat Summit reached 1000 wins. She is the winningest NCAA D-I basketball coach in history. No one else is even close. Bobby Knight retired with 902 wins and Jody Conradt retired with 900 wins. Can you imagine winning 1000 of anything? It strikes me as very fitting that her last name is Summit--she has just reached one.

It is also ironic that it falls on the annual football signing day. Student athletes all over the country salivating at the chance to put on their new uniforms and pack away that first college win. And when that happens, this coach will be 999 wins ahead of them (okay, so there's a few more games in a basketball season than a football season). It takes commitment, persistence, and a lot of motivation. She is a great role model and I hope she gets a few hundred more before she calls it quits.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Recruiting 7th and 8th graders for college sports

Lots of buzz lately about how the NCAA is now allowing 7th and 8th graders to be recruited. This is an attempt to gain some control over coach contact with middle schoolers since it was already happening in camps with no "rules" governing it. I have lots of thoughts about this but I'm curious about the viewpoints of other parents who have athletes who are now out of high school--what did you see as your kids were growing up. Here are my observations, I'm wondering if you saw the same things I did:

The kids who were standouts in early middle school were sometimes flameouts by late high school. There were a few reasons for this. Sometimes they grew very quickly and stopped just as quickly, so everyone caught up and passed them by. Sometimes their skills just didn't develop or they weren't motivated enough to work on them. Sometimes they burned out on the sport or just lost interest and moved to another sport. Sometimes they just didn't have the temperament to work well within a coaches system. And sometimes, the tougher academic workload and increased competition at the high school level just did them in and their effort slid to mediocre.

I've seen cases of the opposite too. Kids who were average athletes and average in size suddenly put the pieces together and grow and excel somewhere around junior year. In fact, this happens to lots of kids. Does this mean they would get passed on because spots were committed to years before?

A parent on the sidelines sees the ebb and flow of all the kids their child is coming up with and there's a lot of churning before it all settles out. It's very sad to see a sport pass a kid by who still wants to be playing. And it's very exciting to see a kid who has persisted through thick and thin to suddenly come into their own.

It's hard to believe that recruiting 12 and 13 year olds won't result in some very unfulfilled expectations. Let them become who they are meant to become. I'd love to hear from some other parents on this topic. What have you seen from the sidelines?