Each of the eight stages of becoming a college athlete is important, and each stage has its own challenges and obstacles, but by understanding and completing each step one at a time you build the foundation for recruiting success. There are a lot of moving parts within the recruiting process, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the information, but with determination and some guidance you too can complete the eight stages and be on your way to playing your sport at the university level.
In order to be eligible to compete at the university level, the academic side plays a very big piece of the puzzle. There are specific academic requirements that come into play as early as year 9 of school, so making sure you know and understand what’s required as early as possible is important. You need adequate time to put a plan in place to ensure you take the proper courses, and you also want to have plenty of time to plan when you’ll take (and retake) the SAT or ACT. Not sure what the SAT/ACT is? Reach out and one of our Recruiting Specialists will be happy to explain it to you.
Simply put, this is THE most important factor in an athlete having a chance to play at the college level. No matter how it may happen, the university coaches can only recruit an athlete they know exists. Ultimately, if they don’t know you exist it won’t matter how good you are, how great of a student you are, the level of teams you have played on or anything else that qualifies you to be on their team. Once they do know you exist, all of your athletic abilities, academic achievements and everything else about you is given a chance to speak for itself and not be a secret in the eyes of those that matter most in achieving your dream.
Once a coach knows you exist, they need to have the CORRECT athletic and academic information to know if you fit a need they are looking to fill. Having the specific, decision making information about a potential recruit from someone they TRUST is a big part of whether or not they consider you. It’s a delicate balance though, you want to give enough information that a coach wants to learn more about you without overwhelming them with information that overshadows your main attributes.
Once a coach knows an athlete exists and has the right information to accurately evaluate their recruitability, it is up to them to decide if that athlete is someone they have an interest in considering for a position on their team. That interest could mean they want to keep an eye on the athlete’s progress and development over time, or it may even mean they decide they want to start actively recruiting the athlete right away. This is why it is so incredibly important to start the college recruiting process early. Some coaches will follow an athlete over time to see their dedication and progress before deciding they are the right person to join the team.
Once a coach has decided they have an interest in an athlete, one of the next big steps is to make direct contact with the athlete and/or their family to make sure the athlete knows of their interest. This contact may come in any form of communication, including an email, phone call or text message. The coach might reach out and ask for more information or might even make it very clear of how strong their interest is. This step is one of the most exciting for an athlete, especially early in the process when they are just beginning to hear from coaches for the first time. Contact can come at any point throughout the process, even as early as years before the athlete would enroll in a university! Keeping your CCR recruiting profile up to date and accurate with all of your contact information is crucial for this step. One of the biggest complaints we get from coaches is athletes not having current contact information on their profiles.
After a coach makes the initial contact with a family, the conversation will usually build from there. The more frequent a coach keeps in touch with the athlete, the more interest they typically have. This would represent that you are being recruited by these schools. From the athlete’s side, you want to make sure and be prompt and diligent with getting back to coaches throughout the process. Communication between the coach and the athlete will likely include ongoing emails, phone calls, connecting on social media and possibly even video calls between the coaching staff and the family. Coaches use this phase to get to know the athlete along with selling the athlete on all of the great things their school has to offer. The athlete and their parents should use this phase to ask the coach questions and learn as much about the coach, athletic program and university as they can.
Once a coach has made the decision that an athlete is the definite right fit for their program, a typical next step will be to offer that athlete a position with their team. The basis of the offer will be the coach wants the athlete to be a part of their team and school, which is a huge achievement for an athlete no matter what the opportunity may look like overall. The offer you’re given to join their program can look very different based on the school, what you’ve learned, and what you’ve previously discussed with the coach. It may be an offer to join the team and attend the school with no scholarship money awarded, or it may include some type of scholarship. If the coach talks to you about scholarships, they can vary widely. You may be offered an athletic scholarship or academic scholarship, or some combination of both. The scholarships offered can vary from school to school in terms of how much of your cost of attendance they cover.
This is the big step! You’ve researched all of the colleges that expressed interest and ultimately made you an offer to join their team and school. You’ve also made sure everything is all set academically to get into the different schools you’re considering. The coaches have made their offers and with your family’s help you’ve considered all options. Once you feel like you have found the “Right Fit” it is time to let the coaches know you want to spend your college years helping to make their athletic program better! Whether you’re two years or two months away from enrolling at the school, this commitment can happen at any time once you have real offers on the table, feel like you’ve found the right fit and can make a decision.
In all, the results within the recruiting process for a student-athlete can vary widely in terms of the amount of interest they receive, the offers they might receive and what types of options they might have available. However, the process itself will always include these eight stages no matter what.
A couple of keys to success in having the most options will be how early the college coaches know an athlete exists, as well as whether or not they have an easy way to stay updated with the decision making information. Ultimately, your athletic ability, success in the classroom and how you do on the SAT or ACT tests will indeed play a big role in what types of options and offers you may have available.
Putting in the work to be the best athlete and student you can be along the way is a big part. However, make sure you do something to get on the college coaches radar early and often in order to let all of that hard work have a chance to pay off! We know a thing or two about getting coaches to know you exist, so don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our Recruiting Specialists to learn how we can help and get your questions answered.