Some high school athletes attract college scouts like bees to honey. They are bombarded with attention from college coaches in the form of letters, phone calls, emails, personal visits, and ultimately, athletic scholarship offers.
But what about the rest—the student-athletes who are not superstars but who want to continue to play their sport in college? Clearly, not all prospective student-athletes have “blue-chip” potential, so how do they attract the notice of college coaches and scholarship offers? Is there a national database somewhere that college coaches can access to find qualified student-athletes around the country?
These are some of the questions we asked when my son Todd first said he wanted to play his sport at the college level. At first we thought that if he was a good enough athlete, he would certainly be noticed by a college coach and offered a scholarship. But what if there was more to it than that? What if he wasn’t noticed at all and was overlooked? We decided that we could not afford to take that chance.
We began researching the recruiting process and quickly became frustrated by the lack of cohesive information. We realized that there was no recruiting hotline, no centralized location where college coaches went to discover qualified student-athletes for their programs, no magical list. Many college programs, in fact, seemed to find their recruits haphazardly—through an associate of the program or a chance encounter. This became even more apparent at smaller schools, many of whom seemed to confine their search to a small geographical area due to limited recruiting budgets.
From our research and numerous discussions with coaches, guidance counselors, former and current collegiate athletes and their parents, we concluded that the student-athlete must initiate the recruiting process to avoid being overlooked. Armed with this knowledge, we began a systematic search for the right college, where Todd could get the best education possible while playing his sport and receiving a sports scholarship.
We devised a game plan geared at marketing Todd and his talents to various colleges and their athletic programs. He contacted each coach and sent information about himself, which we subsequently called the Sports Resume Kit, and indicated where the coach could see him compete. Soon he was swamped with replies from coaches, along with information about their schools.
While Todd spent hours excitedly browsing college Web sites, pouring through college catalogs and talking with coaches, other talented student-athletes in our area sat back and waited to get noticed. As a result, most were never contacted by a single college coach! These young men and women, who could have enhanced many a college sports program, went completely unnoticed.
Todd ultimately attended Stanford University on a soccer scholarship after receiving four other offers. While in college, he worked in the athletic department and helped to recruit student-athletes. From Todd’s experience as an “insider,” we learned why some student-athletes were vigorously recruited, while others—no less talented—were virtually ignored.
While recruiting has changed 180 degrees since we first became interested in the recruiting game, what remains unchanged is our message to student-athletes who want to compete at the college level: Market yourself! Call yourself to the attention of college coaches! Don’t sit back and wait to be noticed!