Added Time: Our Monthly College Search Newsletter

August Update: Will College Coaches "Find You" If You Are Good Enough?

This month I want to address an assertion about athletic recruiting and college searches that I hear all too often, even from folks who should know better. It was distilled down perfectly in this Facebook comment by an admissions professional:

Graphic of bad take on Facebook

THIS IS NOT TRUE. So many young people miss out on reaching their potential because they listen to folks expressing opinions like this.

In fact, coaches are unlikely to “find you” even if you are “good enough” – or at least the right coaches may not. There are a multitude of reasons, and they vary by sport, but some are universal!

  • There are literally millions of high school sports participants, competing against each other in an endless variety of leagues, state tournaments, “national” events, and other environments. Access to these events can be limited by money, social connections, geography, school size, etc. so there is no uniform standard to compare the pool of talent you are recruiting. On top of this, college coaching staffs are limited in size. There is no way to assess every prospect, and not enough quality data to rank all of them using analytics or technology. For example, in the NFL, the key is identifying a great Quarterback. They have a nearly infinite amount of money, large staffs of paid scouts, and high-quality film of every prospect at the high school level or beyond. And the most successful QB this century was drafted in the 6th round.

 

  • We, as a species, are not very good at assessing potential! Think of all the big-time college coaches who passed on Jimmy Garoppolo, Ben Roethlisberger, Josh Allen, Trey Lance, and Carson Wentz, just to name quarterbacks who started in the NFL last season after being passed over by every single FBS football program. Just like any smart executive will tell you hiring is hard and littered with mistakes, recruiting is too.

 

  • You are more than just your athletic talent! It really does not matter whether “a coach” contacts you. You need to connect with the RIGHT coach. One who will inspire you to reach beyond the potential you can imagine… on and off the field. Also, one who is at an institution that fits your goals beyond athletics and sets you up for success. You are not signing a pro contract; you are choosing an educational institution to be your springboard to elevating your lifetime potential!

So, how do you make that connection with the RIGHT coaches? The first step is to put together your recruiting toolkit. You need an academic/athletic resume that puts your academic and athletic information at the coach’s fingertips with no additional clicking! You need video or your competitive data (track times? UTR? Whatever is appropriate for your sport!) accessible instantly from your initial email. You also need to reach out to coaches in a targeted, personal way. This means using the "5A College Search process" to identify coaches you want to connect with by name and doing at LEAST enough research to explain to THEM why the college is a fit for you beyond athletics.

Of course, College Athletic Advisor helps prospective students and families do this every day, but you CAN do it yourself. It is simply a matter of time and your goals. If you are looking to stay local and already know the coaches in your area – make the connection! For students aspiring to highly selective schools or who want to search for great fit institutions outside their home areas, expert insights can be well worth the investment!

As always, if you are interested in learning more about individualized or institutional consulting to elevate your college search, check out our services here! You can make an initial appointment through the link on our homepage! School administrators and counselors access our free resources, appointments and programs for school collaboration here.

For more information, contact Dave Morris, College Counselor & CEO, College Athletic Advisor, dave@collegeathleticadvisor.com or phone: (719) 248-7994

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July Update

If you are like me and consume a ridiculous amount of sports news on a regular basis, you will have been bombarded with pundits and some coaches complaining about how the transfer portal and NIL is “ruining college sports.” If you are in the midst of the recruiting process, you can add to that the scare pieces about “falling behind” in recruiting, “abusive coaching,” and a student-athlete mental health crisis. In the interest of fostering better emotional balance and reducing stress, I would like to walk you through this maze of disinformation and pointless scare tactics head on.

First, “the transfer portal” and the “OMG EVERYONE IS TRANSFERRING” panic. Whatever your feelings are about Covid-19, it impacted everyone. The student-athletes transferring right now had their college search process or college experience significantly impacted by pandemic. Kids took offers because they knew they would not “get seen” again… colleges MADE offers because at least they HAD seen a particular prospect. Not surprisingly, that impacted the quality of “fit” for a lot of student-athletes. On top of this, the NCAA made the transfer process a little bit more streamlined (the rules did NOT actually change for most sports, but the transfer portal made the road map clearer for everyone) and lots of student-athletes did not get the experience they signed up for academically OR athletically due to a worldwide pandemic. Not surprisingly, that has some folks looking for greener pastures. Transfers have always been commonplace, now you know. Crisis? Not so much, unless you think having guys sitting at the end of benches someplace for years on end benefited anyone.

Second, the NIL debacle in college sports. This one surprises no one. The NCAA inexplicably decided that pretending nothing was changing would magically make a serious issue resolve itself. I know you are shocked that strategy failed. On the positive side, by doing nothing, the NCAA is now in a great position to heed the call of pretty much everyone and figure out some commonsense regulations for schools, boosters, and students. Also, student-athletes are being compensated at an unprecedented level, which is a pretty big win if you believe that people should benefit from their own efforts. We will continue to hear coaches moan about NIL, but there is a great chance that the NCAA gets this one right, limits the abuse of the system for recruiting, and allows people to benefit from their market value and intellectual property. Added benefit, female student-athletes are some of the big winners here at NO cost to colleges. Once again, when you hear about multi-million-dollar NIL deals for football/basketball recruits, be VERY skeptical… the verifiable numbers are certainly robust, but they are nowhere near where some clickbait headlines say they are.

Finally, mental health and the time commitment of collegiate athletes. During a year where several high-profile collegiate athletes committed suicide, it is timely to look at student-athlete mental health and safety. Providing psychological support for young people is an underfunded part of our educational system, and one where meaningful progress is critical. Given the turmoil in American education, society, and a global pandemic, clearly there is a nationwide mental health challenge. It would be strange if that did not impact student-athletes as well as everyone else. Sometimes I feel like the main concern in dealing with these tragic cases is making the problem less visible rather than really creating a robust system to support student wellness across domains. I hope we can all work for the latter.

On that note, one recruiting service was pushing out scare stories about “abusive coaching.” While there is no question that we have a long way to go in terms of educating coaches, athletic departments, and student-athletes about what constitutes abuse and how to consign abusive behavior to the past, stuff like this does no good:

“[My coach] would tell me that I was selfish or lazy for not supporting my team. This can be considered coercion and a form of emotional or psychological abuse.”

Well, THAT is going to need a lot of context, because on its face, it looks like simple accountability. If there is an underlying dishonesty to the request you “support the team” (like “you are not supporting the team” means you need to play through an injury or do something unethical, illegal, or immoral) that certainly changes the equation, but successful college teams ARE about the collective performance of the team.

For student-athletes who have played primarily in pay-to-play environments, college can be the first place where they face real accountability and more challenging demands for performance. It does not help college sports clean up bad actors and their enablers if we conflate accountability and abuse.

The Ultimate Toolkit

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