Many people believe that athletic recruits have it so much easier than the rest. I hear constantly, “Full ride to UNC“ blah blah blah, as if these offers drop from the sky for stand-out athletes. That is most definitely not the case. Do athletic recruits have advantages? They certainly do. But these advantages are hard to achieve and require countless hours of dedication and work, and yes of course some God given talent. But importantly, to properly and effectively take advantage of these opportunities, scholar-athletes must play their cards right. And the first rule is, Primum non nocere! Or, do no harm! There are pitfalls to be sure, and these students should have a clear understanding of what NOT to do. Worse case, you let your record speak for itself and not get in the way of a coach’s interest in you. I have personally witnessed many outstanding scholar-athletes fail to gain admission to schools of their choice for reasons that were entirely avoidable. Below is some advice for those seeking to become athletic recruits:
- take control, take ownership of the process. Under no circumstances should you defer to your parents, your coach, your alumni to communicate with coaches or recruitment personnel. The coaches want to know you and they’re looking for reasons to flip your file into the non-support bin. Your coach can certainly log a call to add some color to your application but the bulk of the communication should be from you.
- email/correspond when you have something important to disclose. And it definitely should not be limited to athletic accomplishments. Generally, what and how you communicate speaks to your values, leadership potential. Contacting a coach to disclose a significant accomplishment no directly related to your sport of choice can be a difference maker. Coaches want students that exhibit passion, work ethic and excellence in ALL aspects of their scholastic lives.
- Never under any circumstance, tell a coach what you SHOULD do, or what you WILL do. Particularly with respect to athletic accomplishments, stick to what you can show and prove. No coach wants to hear shoulda, woulda, coulda…
- Visit coaches and ask questions about philosophy and leadership. Particularly with ivy league, D3 or NESCAC schools, character and leadership are extremely important. Coaches recognize the challenges of balancing athletics and academics, and they are looking for student/athletes that can handle it. If you are visiting with your parents, take the lead in all respects. The coaches care what questions you ask, what answers you give, what skills you bring to the table. Having your dad talk about how hard you work or how many goals you scored, is irrelevant.
So, take charge of the process and advocate for yourself. Especially for those student/athletes who happen to live in Fairfield County, CT, with type-A parents who are pushing their kids hard, it’s a chance to distinguish yourself in a way that will complement your athletic accomplishments.