So you think you want to play college sports? 12 steps to becoming a college athlete. This year, 3% of high school athletes are recruited and will go on to play at a collegiate level. The recruiting process can be very unfamiliar to those wishing to be recruited and can be a three-year challenge for […]
So you think you want to play college sports? 12 steps to becoming a college athlete.
This year, 3% of high school athletes are recruited and will go on to play at a collegiate level. The recruiting process can be very unfamiliar to those wishing to be recruited and can be a three-year challenge for some. Luckily, CB has #collegeathletebound students who are willing to shed some light on how they were recruited and what playing a college sport means to them.
Every sport and every level has a different process. A bit about myself: I committed to San Diego State last November to play Division I water polo. It had been my dream to play a collegiate sport since I was little, but I had no idea how I was supposed to be discovered.
CB’s Athletic Director Mr. Dale Milton says that CB can help students wishing to be recruited by hosting a recruitment night and that coaches can also help individual players.
I attended one of the recruiting talks CB holds where a recruiting specialist sells himself and his program to help students be recruited. His NCSA program was expensive, way out of my family’s budget, and I was worried that if after paying all of that money I might still not end up with a roster spot in college. I talked to a few of my former teammates who had gone off to play in college and gained insight into how recruiting works. Each athlete’s journey is unique — the process starts early, and it is solely up to you to take the necessary steps to go from wanting to be recruited to actually being recruited. After accumulating a basis of knowledge from the Internet during sophomore year, my mom and I set out with a DIY checklist:
The first step to being noticed was to persevere through eight hour Olympic development program camps in order to be evaluated by nationally known coaches. In most recruiting worlds it is all about connections. I attended UCSB water polo camp during the summer before my junior year to meet and play in front of the coach. During the summer between junior and senior year, I attended a CSUMB/ Santa Clara camp to be evaluated and meet those coaches as well.
ODP camps helped me get in touch with high level coaches and players which became a good asset while talking to college coaches. While not all sports have ODP camps, playing for a club or “USA” team is very important. If you are being recruited for a team sport know that coaches rarely come to high school games and are more likely to come watch you at a higher level tournament like Junior Olympics.
Recruited volleyball star Liz Robinson (’16) says that “through club we go to different tournaments all over the country, and the coaches will come and watch and sit on your court.”
She added commentary about the red tape the recruiting process presents.
“They cannot talk to you at these huge tournaments until you are a senior, but they can talk to your coaches and your coaches can pass along the message.”
Mr. Milton also states that college scouts may come to football, baseball, and basketball games but that “most coaches want film from the athletes.”
If you compete individually, it’s easier to accumulate highlight videos and send those to schools. Which brings me to step two:
2. Send out a resume
Sell yourself. Make a YouTube account (if you have highlight footage besides Hudl, etc..) and an email specific to being recruited. Choose an email with your name included in the address. Ex firstname.lastname@example.org is not professional. Next, make a pages or Word document and include a picture of yourself, your GPA, your academic and athletic achievements, stats, what teams you play for (high school/club), your coaches’ contact information, your contact information, an updated schedule of where you will be playing that year, and your goals. Depending on what sport you plan on perusing this step may vary.
“[For] film use Hudl, reach out to coaches, [and] find a school that matches your talent,” Mr. Milton advised.
In my own experience, I didn’t make profiles on any internet recruiting sites. Instead, I made my own template, filled out the necessary information, put a link to my YouTube channel and attached my academic transcripts to a simple word document. From there, I sent emails out to every college water polo program in the country. Each email I sent was somewhat personal to the school I emailed. I gave a brief description on why I was interested in that specific college and made sure to include if someone close to me had already attended the school or been involved with the team. If you use an Internet profile, you can send your link to the recruiting website but you should still personally contact schools that you are serious about attending.
3. Narrow your list
This is where it gets tricky. Think about what you’d like to be majoring in in college. Depending on what you desire to study, some college sports will be restrictive. When exploring the possibility of nursing, Division II and Division III coaches told me there would be overlap with classes, practices, and games but, it could still be done. Division I schools that I talked to did not allow their athletes to be in the nursing programs because balancing the team and hospital hours is impossible.
“If you do not see yourself at that school without sports it may not be a great fit,” Mr. Milton says.
You have to decide whether playing at a higher division or going to a school where you can pursue a specific major is more important. This will help you narrow the list of schools to keep in contact with. Keep in mind, most colleges have club sports as well. This process is all about figuring out what division works for you.
While your visiting and picking a college think: “Would I like this school if I were to break my leg the first day?” or “Can I see myself liking school here without the support of the team?”
For every sport this step will vary. In water polo, division II and III coaches could begin replying to my emails when I sent them at the beginning of my junior year. It is important to visit the NCAA website which will tell you the specific dates that schools may begin to contact you depending on the year and what sport you play. Division 1 schools could only begin to reply July 1st before my senior year. I received generic emails back from most DI schools.
The Talon‘s very own Liz Robinson had a different experience.
” I received my first letter from a college in 7th grade. It pretty much said hey, we would like to follow you and we are interested in you possibly coming to our school in the future,” she says. “I kept getting recruiting letters, and then I had to decide where I wanted to be, where in the country I wanted to go, and different things like that.”
These generic emails all told me to go online and fill out the recruiting form on their website. So naturally the next step is:
5. Fill out recruiting questionnaires online
You should fill these questionnaires out at the start of your junior year. Most of these questionnaires are the same, so copy and paste your answers and save them for other team’s forums. If you need help or someone to proofread your responses, CB’s amazing counselors are always happy to help students reach out to colleges. Keep your answers short, sweet, and don’t forget to sell yourself and thank them for their time.
6. Visit the colleges, meet the coaches
As you receive the responses, make sure to keep track of who has responded and who has not. Of the schools that do respond, keep in contact by emailing or texting frequently. Plan visits to meet the coach or attend the games where the team is playing. Email or text the coach that you will be visiting and ask to meet. Some programs, especially DIII schools, do not fund athletic visits, and so it will be up to you to reach out to the coach and travel to the campus on your own time.
During the summer before junior year, I went to DIII colleges in Southern California and met with the coaches. Each coach gave me a personal tour and told me about their team. To my surprise, each coach was selling me on the program. Starting at smaller colleges definitely helped build my confidence to talk to higher level coaches. Another tip for talking to coaches is to come up with a list of questions that you’d like to ask them. Be yourself, dress nice (maybe wear shoes that make you look taller, etc.), and thank them for their time. St. John De La Salle has prepared you to be polite and now is your time to wow the coaches with your kind personality. Coaches are looking for prospects that have a coachable personality just as much as athletic ability.
“I kept letting the coaches contact me first,” Liz says. “Then I’d visit the campuses after calling the coach obviously. I told them I was going to come. Through family vacations and stuff I would go to see the schools.”
While on one of my day visits during my junior year at a nearby Division II school, the coach told me that she looks for the parents personality just as much as the athlete’s. The way parents act during games as well as showing support for their child factors into the recruiting process. Coaches find that parents who are respectful during games and go with their children on these visits have students that are more likely to succeed in collegiate level sports.
Dive recruit Kourtney Clark (’16) says that she had a great experience while attending an official visit of her future school.
“I got to see a class and I went around the campus on a tour. Then, at night the team took me to a soccer game and it was Halloween so I got to carve pumpkins with them too!”
Remember to email or send a handwritten letter to the coach to thank them after the visit.
7. College Fairs
After visiting colleges, you will have a better idea of what your dream campus looks like. If you are still unsure, I encourage you to go to college fairs. There are some meet and greets during Junior Olympics and other high level tournaments. You should attend those fairs, drop off your printed resume, and meet coaches. This is another opportunity for you to tell the coaches where you are playing and have coaches watch you in person.
Continue to expand your horizons, do not rule out schools too quickly, and talk to coaches from schools you do not know much about– first impressions count! Look presentable and treat every school with the same amount of interest and excitement. Your goal should be to have many opportunities to play in college at the end of the recruiting process, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there at college meet and greets.
8. Junior visit days
If you keep in contact with a DI school, they may invite you to attend a Junior visit day. Junior visit days are days where all of the prospects in contact with a sports program come to visit the campus and talk to the coach. Go to the Junior visit days to help narrow down your list of colleges and grow a personal relationship with the coach. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and put yourself out there. In my own experiences, I went to junior visit days on the east coast. After my visit, I emailed the coaches and thanked them for having me, but I ruled out going to any of them because I was not a fan of the climate — but I never would’ve known if I hadn’t gone.
9. Next comes the grades.
Depending on what your school requires, you may need to meet the average at least to be considered in the recruiting process. For schools like the Ivies, you may need to excel in your studies to meet the minimum GPA and SAT/ACT scores in order to be eligible. To get into a school like Stanford for example, you must either be on a variation of the national team or be a great player with astounding grades. Just because you are good enough to be recruited doesn’t mean your grades do not matter. When a school recruits you, they are looking for the whole package. Good grades can only help!
Keep in mind that public schools such as Sacramento State University and UC Davis focus heavily on your sophomore and junior year grades. Private schools such as Chapman University and USC focus on your cumulative GPA over 4 years. By the time a private school begins recruiting, they look at a prospect’s Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior year grades equally. When I attended Junior visit days at Ivy League schools, the coaches told me that they also weigh teacher/counselor recommendations just as much as they do grades.
On all of my visits, every coach asked me what my GPA was. Athletics can certainly help you gain admission into the school, but if you do not meet the school’s minimum academic requirements, they may not be able to “bump” your application. High level colleges such as Harvard and Cal look for students that could get in on their own. Programs can only push a certain amount of applications through to admission, so if you are able to be admitted with no assistance from the coaches, you have a higher chance of being recruited.
Assistant Athletic Director Mr. Rolf Schumann says that he sees amazing athletes be overlooked by programs because of their low grades. He emphasizes that even if you are not the best athlete, you may be recruited over a “better” athlete because of your grades.
“When it gets down to playing in college, it comes down to talent. And having good grades. We have kids who are decent athletes but they have a 2.4, so you limit your options right away,” he says.
“When I think about a kid who has a over a 3.0 or over a 3.5 and who is a decent athletes, they will have so many more opportunities to play. There are a lot more schools that are going to be interested in you because they can look at you and say, hey this kid is a great athlete and they are on top of their academics.”
10. SIGN UP FOR THE NCAA!!
This step is self explanatory. You need to go online in the summer between your sophomore and junior year and the summer between your junior and senior year and sign up for the NCAA. There is a deadline in September that you need to sign up, which will insure your eligibility for an collegiate athletic program. The exact date of when this deadline is varies year to year, but it is imperative that you know when the date is and sign up. You will receive a NCAA number which you will need to add to your resume. This number will keep track of how many official visits you take and which school you are committing to. You must have this identification number before you attend any NCAA official visits and before you are fully recruited.
11. Official Visits 101 & NLI vs Committing
Official visits can take place your senior year of high school. Kourtney says senior year was big for her — everything started to fall into place and her hard work was finally paying off.
” Senior year is when it all started to happen,” she says. “I went in three official visits, I was offered different scholarships from each school, and from there I made my decision of where I wanted to dive for the next four years.”
You are allowed up to five official visits due to NCAA rules; however, these visits take place when a school is very interested in you. Depending on how far away the school is, the coach may fly you out or arrange your transportation. You are allowed to be on the campus for an official visit for two hours. The coach will pay for your food, you will stay with a member of the team, and sometimes you are able to attend practices.
Depending on what season you are in at high school, you may be able to practice with the team. Every school does official visits differently but it is important to be as charismatic as you can. Be on your best behavior — you are a guest. This visit can determine whether you are offered a scholarship.
Most of the times, clicking with the team can be crucial. In my own experience, when the girls on the team loved a “recruit”, they told the coaches they really wanted that person on the team. Another girl on my recruiting trip who was being rude did not end up being recruited because the girls did not like her.
The team may take you to parties but the point of the trip is not to go to college ravers. Do not be too eager to “party”, but make sure you explore every aspect of what could be your new home for the next 4 years. They are trying to sell you on the school just as much as you are trying to sell yourself. During the visit, imagine what it would be like to live there.
At the end of the visit, the coaches will sit you down individually and tell you what they have to offer. They may offer you a scholarship amount, a roster spot, money for books, etc. From there, you can accept what they offer you or bargain for something better. Multiple schools may offer you different amounts, so do not commit right away. Consider all of your options and when you have decided to accept an offer, talk to the coach and tell them that you are excited about their program.
Liz said she chose her college based off of what she felt during the official visit.
“I really liked the girls and I instantly fell in love with the campus,” she says. “I knew I wanted to go there after being on the campus and attending a practice.”
Depending on what offer you accept, you could be committing or signing. Committing means you have accepted their offer for a spot on the team and you will be granted admission, priority dorms, priority classes, but you will not be receiving a scholarship. Signing means you will accept money and sign the National Letter of Intent during a signing period that occurs either during the fall or the spring. These signing weeks vary each year, but the CB athletic department will let you know when the signing ceremony day will occur.
Robinson says that it was a huge deal for her and her family to receive an athletic scholarship.
“I was excited to sign because everyone in my dads family went to school on an athletic scholarship, so I had to do it. Everyone made a big deal about it in my family, so it was really fun!”
12. GO __(Enter plural mascot here)___!!
You have finished the recruiting process! Even though you are committing to going and playing for a school, you still need to apply and keep up your grades. Keep in contact with your new coach every couple of weeks. Ask them if there are any workouts you need to be doing in the summer or if there’s a diet you need to get used to. They will be happy to answer any of your questions. Also, make sure to keep up on how your team is doing. Watching their games will give you a better feel for how the team plays. Pick a roommate that will allow you to study hard and play hard– one that doesn’t mind you getting up earlier than 7 AM on weekdays.
CB is proud of their student athletes. In Christian Brothers history, we have had many athletes be recruited and go on to play not only in college, but also at the professional level.
Athletic Director Dale Milton says that we have had,”30 to more” student athletes recruited at CB each year.
He also adds that there are three former CB football players playing in the NFL and that there are many baseball and soccer players playing professionally as well.
There is a place for every student athlete in a college program, whether it be club, DI, DII, DIII, or junior college. With a lot perseverance through the recruiting process your collegiate athletic dream can come true. Good luck C-Bein’ recruited, Falcons!