It is during junior year of high school that many student-athletes begin to receive letters from college coaches expressing interest. While the beginning of the recruitment process is exciting, it is also filled with confusion, and even disappointment. It is normal to feel unsure while being recruited. But to avoid feeling in despair, there are important things to remember and be aware of.
1. Do not be discouraged if you are not contacted right away.
July 1: I referred to it as D-day. That is how excited I was about the prospect of hearing from college coaches. It was a monumental day, the day that the NCAA had chosen as the first day college coaches could contact me by phone, the day that I would know that I was a good enough athlete to compete on a collegiate level, the day that would surpass all other days in my life. So just imagine how I felt when I did not receive a single phone call.
You may not have to; you may know what I am talking about. But you quickly learn that it is not the end of the world. The fact is that, for most athletes, July 1 only lifts a barrier between the recruit and recruiter. So do not worry if your phone is virtually silent for the first few days or weeks.
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2. It is okay to be proactive.
Bearing in mind the first tip, there is no harm in contacting a coach either. Coaches appreciate an active recruit, one who is showing interest in being a part of a team and competing at the collegiate level. If you have any interest in a school, it is okay, and even imperative that the recruiters know that they are being considered.
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Not being contacted does not necessarily show a lack of interest on the coach’s part, but if you are looking to be on a recruiter’s radar, do not be afraid to let them know.
But, be sure not to put all of your eggs in one basket. Consider other universities and coaches you would like to compete for, understanding that recruitment does not work out the way you expect it to.
3. Stay open-minded.
Whether or not you are an athlete, remaining open to all universities is wise. You may tell yourself ‘never in a million years could I go to a rural school,’ only to fall in love with one on a visit. In this same way, if you receive an email from a school you have never heard of or considered, it is in your best interest to research it for all that it has to offer. Could it be that the majors offered by this university are exactly what you want? Or that the team’s unity is something that you need as an athlete?
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4. Be courteous to every coach and recruiter.
These are busy people whose jobs are not only to coach a team to the best of their ability, but also to recruit so that the sport’s program continues to grow. When a coach takes the time to email or call, they are showing some interest. If you are not thrilled by the idea of attending a school, still show them courtesy: listen to them talk about their university, respond to the email. At the very least, offer a ‘thank you, but no thank you.’
5. Enjoy the experience!
Besides actually competing, it is the most exciting time to be a student-athlete. You have likely never been pursued for your ability in this manner and you will feel pressure: maybe from coaches, maybe from family, but certainly from yourself.
You will wonder if you did not work hard enough to earn the attention of some schools over others. Feeling stressed about the situation will not make it better, like with all things, and you will only feel worse and perhaps jaded.
When these feelings set in, it is important to remind yourself of the work that went into you becoming the athlete that you are.
There are few that get the opportunity to compete after high school. If a coach feels that you are among the few, take that with pride and know that you will find your fit.