Jim asks: What can my player do if he’s pretty good but not good enough to get a scholarship? Should he play club hockey or try and walk on at a DIII school, and then possibly try and get a partial scholarship later?
Answer: Every year there are at least 36,667 high school hockey players competing for less than 1,000 scholarships. Anyone who does the math will quickly realize that many talented players do not receive scholarship offers. Serious hockey players who want to continue to play at the collegiate level should not lose hope just because they are not invited to sign a national letter of intent. There are several other options to consider.
Athletic scholarships are only one way students can receive college funding. Many students collect significant college funding through academic scholarships and merit grants. Colleges and universities often award scholarships to students who meet specific academic requirements, and if a college coach is recruiting a player he may be able to pull for the individual in the admissions and financial aid offices to ensure that the student-athlete is not only accepted, but that he also receives the maximum financial package. Division III programs do not offer athletic scholarships but many Division III athletes receive substantial funding in the form of academic, merit and need based aid.
Club hockey is another avenue for student-athletes who want to continue their hockey careers at the college level. Club hockey teams range from very competitive to recreational. The degree to which a college funds the program also varies significantly. In most cases, club coaches do not have the ability to help athletes gain acceptance to college or receive financial assistance from the institution. Student-athletes may still receive academic and merit aid if their high school performance warrants the award.
In the end, it is important to evaluate college options as early as possible so a player will know their choices and make an educated decision on what college opportunity is right for them.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to NCSA for their response to this question.
- The Internet has completely changed the way coaches recruit.
- Camps and combines are now essential to the recruiting process.
- Unofficial visits are absolutely crucial to building relationships with coaches early on in the process.
It is, however, crucial to understand that these points are a bit of a Catch 22. While they are all true, simply doing all three wont make a recruit any more likely to receive a scholarship. Recruits need to go about accomplishing all three tasks the right way.
Recruits can’t just have a profile on a website. Coaches aren’t able to find a needle in a haystack on the Internet any more than they were able in the old days. What the Internet does is provide coaches an efficient way to quickly evaluate the recruits they have heard about from a trusted 3rd party. There are many programs, such as NCSA’s Recruit-Match database that accomplish both the task of verifying every athlete as legitimate and allowing coaches to quickly evaluate their athletic and academic qualifications.
Camps and combines are also essential to the recruiting process. However, choosing the right camp can be just as important. It is important to realize if you are you padding a coaches salary or being evaluated.
Finally, visits are key to establishing relationships. However, setting up a beneficial visit requires first getting a coach’s attention and then executing the visit properly. Doing both requires work and execution.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to NCSA for this informative article.
An important part of the recruiting process centers around key dates - ranging from the first time a college coach can officially write a prospect, or the first time they can call a potential recruit, all the way to the official signing day. These dates shape the timeline for the recruiting process that millions of student-athletes go through each year. Unfortunately, some families use their knowledge of these important dates incorrectly, or at least fail to maximize the value of their knowledge.
The good news is that the majority of families properly use recruiting dates to gauge their progress. For example, if a junior prospect receives 50 handwritten letters on September 1st, they should view that as a good sign that the process has been a relative success up until that point. Conversely, a prospect who opens an empty mailbox on the same date should view that as a need to make a change in their recruiting approach. I think most families understand this application of recruiting date knowledge. However, while gauging progress after the occurrence of these dates is helpful, the families who succeed in the process utilize forward thinking prior to important dates to make sure they are in the right position.
Imagine a football prospect, in the middle of summer, entering junior year. After doing some research, the prospect understands that September 1st will be an important day in the recruiting process. Using this knowledge, the prospect and his family formulate a proactive game plan to reach out to more than 100 realistic college programs to alert them of his abilities and interests. As a result, on September 1st when the prospect goes to the mailbox, it is full of letters from various college coaches. Essentially, the prospect planned his recruiting process with knowledge of future dates rather than the reverse.
Too many college athlete hopefuls wait for the important dates to come along and then realize they are behind before they formulate a proactive game plan. This is not how recruiting dates should be used. Families must study the important recruiting dates for their individual sport, plan them out on a calendar and then make sincere efforts prior to those dates to ensure they are on track.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to NCSA for this article.
High school coaches play an important role in the recruiting process as an intermediary between the college coach and student-athlete. The reality is every high school coach has a different policy regarding how and when they alert a student-athlete that a college coach has expressed interest. Unfortunately, this lack of uniformity has always been a source of frustration.
In most situations, the high school coach has admirable intentions. Unfortunately, they might be severely hurting the student-athlete’s chances of playing at the next level by withholding the interest of college coaches. So why would the high school coach ever fail to communicate interest from a college coach to one of their players? According to recruiting expert, Former DI Recruiting Coordinator Randy Taylor there are several reasons why this might happen.
“Holding college mail is really an old school idea that some high school coaches still practice. The reasons I have heard are:
- The coach is worried the player will get a big head and think they have it made and might not work as hard.
- The coach is worried the letters or interest from a college coach will distract the athlete.
- The coach may want to be in charge of the process and doesn’t want to be bothered until the end of the season.
- The coach doesn’t want the college coach to have direct impact with the player in a way that might undermined the team’s goals.
- The coach may believe that until the player has completed their sophomore year there isn’t any guarantee that they are truly a prospect.
Regardless of the reason, the high school coach is most likely hurting the student-athlete by interfering with the process.”
So what can you do?
The first step is to clearly state your desire to play collegiate athletics with your high school coach. The next step is to simply discuss what your high school coach’s policy is about recruiting. Does he pass along letters immediately from a college coach? Does he traditionally hold that type of information? The only way you will know is to talk with your coach in a professional manner. Remember, even if you do not fully agree with your high school coach’s policy, they will be talking directly to college coaches on your behalf. Don’t give them anything negative to tell the college coaches.
I encourage you to open the lines of communication with your high school coach early in the process and find out how they approach the recruiting - it will impact your success!
Editor’s Note: Thank you to NCSA for this article.
Chris Krause: How long has Twitter been around? It seems like recently it has exploded in terms of popularity. What do you attribute this to?
Brian Davidson: It has only been around since 2006, but in March 2009 alone, Twitter had a growth rate of 1382%! I attribute this to a few factors. One, it is extremely easy to use for users and developers. This allows users to master it quickly, but also allows developers to create new computer programs to enhance the service.
Two, it is a very authentic relationship. Users “follow” other user updates. The conversation does not have to be two-way.
Also in sports in particular it allows users to control the message they send the world. Coaches do not need to use ESPN to talk to fans. They can communicate directly.
Chris Krause: How is Twitter currently being used in recruiting?
Brian Davidson: It is fascinating. At first Twitter was unquestionably best known in the Tech world. However, in the past 6 months, the amount of athletes and coaches using the service has taken off. At first, Shaq was the best known user but soon multiple athletes were using the service and their use brought a great deal of mainstream media exposure.
The first college coach to use the service that I know of was Pete Carroll. But now dozens, if not hundreds, of coaches are currently “tweeting” about their programs to showcase both their personality and their recruiting message.
Chris Krause: What is your opinion about the future of Twitter in recruiting?
Brian Davidson: I believe two things will happen. One, coaches will push the limits with Twitter and begin using it to contact recruits directly. Since it really is not a text message, the NCAA cannot regulate it like they can a phone. Coaches are essentially updating a website which would be very hard to legislate.
Secondly, I believe the NCAA will find a way to restrict coaches’ use of the service. At this point, I believe coaches will set up separate accounts only for recruits and ask them to contact the coaches directly. This would work the same way that coaches can currently take a phone call from a recruit at any time, but cannot always call a recruit.
However, in all honesty, the service is so new that it is very possible that someone will invent a new way to use Twitter for recruiting. My eyes are definitely watching to see what happens.
Chris Krause: What advice would you give recruits who are currently using or are thinking about creating an account?
Brian Davidson: I would make sure they keep their updates very professional, and be willing to share their updates with any college coach on the service.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to the NCSA for this valuable article.
Academics- A thorough academic history is very helpful in determining the staying power a recruit’s name has on the list. The more prepared academically in regards to fulfilling core course requirements and core GPA and the better the report card the better chance the prospect has to remain on the list. Even if a recruit has struggled in some of the core classes, it does not mean they will be immediately removed. However, if the coach is unable to gain access to proper documentation or notification that a recruit has intentions of improving their academic standing by taking summer school, or through some other means, the student-athlete will not be given the benefit of the doubt. Do not ever hide or hold back the transcript. It is a red flag and can earn your nameplate a spot in the dreaded box of discarded recruits. Even if you are struggling, show the coach you are aware of the problem and have a plan to fix it. Make your academic information easily accessible. This will also give a college coach time to work with a recruit to put a plan together to stay on “the list.”
Evaluation - Of course a significant portion of the decision to keep or remove a prospects name from the list hinges on the recruits athletic ability. With that in mind, make sure to have a quality highlight tape and at least one full game tape available for all coaches (college coaches watch highlight tapes to decide if they want to watch a game tape!) This film provides the area coach ammunition to defend an athlete’s place on the list. Without the film, a recruit is far more likely to be removed.
3rd Party Evaluations- An evaluation by a trusted third party can go a long way towards keeping a prospect’s name on the board, because it serves as a reference. Again, as an area coach puts his initial list together to bring before the rest of the staff, he is basically gathering evidence to state his case. This third party evaluation can add to the support and help the area coach defend the prospect.
Parents! - Believe it or not, a parent can be a main reason for a prospect getting dropped from the list. I recall one year that we were recruiting a top player when we received a comment from the high school coach that the father might be a problem. Apparently the father was questioning coaching, challenging the conditioning, complaining to other parents, etc. We watched the father (almost as closely as the athlete) and ended up removing the recruit from the list because of the father’s actions.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to the NCSA for this valuable article.
While knowing what questions to expect from a college coach and how to answer them is important, any conversation with a coach also allows the student athlete an opportunity to find out some critical information that will help them through the athletic recruiting process. The key is to know the right questions to ask in order to maximize your short time with a coach.
Every conversation with a college coach will be unique. Since the recruiting process moves at different speeds for prospects and coaches, the current relationship should dictate the type of questions that are appropriate. However, regardless of where you’re at in the process, we wanted to give you some advice that every recruit can take advantage of.
Before we go into specific questions that potential recruits should ask college coaches, let’s go over a few basics to keep in mind while preparing for the conversations.
First and foremost, PREPARE! While a prospect might not know the exact time a college coach will be calling, every recruit should recognize that phone conversations will be a significant portion of a recruiting relationship. With that in mind, prospects should write down a list of 15 questions that they could ask a coach…and keep it handy! While the conversation should flow naturally, it will only help a potentially nervous student-athlete to have a set of questions prepared ahead of time that they can always ask a coach.
A prospect should never ask if they will receive a scholarship during an initial conversation unless a coach brings up the topic. Recruits should maximize the conversation by only asking questions that they can find answers to by talking to the coach directly. They should not waste this valuable opportunity by asking questions that can be answered through a brief visit to the college’s website. Each conversation serves as a limited chance to develop a real relationship…make the most of it! Do not be afraid to ask coaches about themselves. Often times, recruits only ask questions that pertain to their life and neglect to find out anything personal about the coach. It’s important for a recruit to get to know a coach (their interests, their family, etc…)
Now, let’s go over some questions recruits can ask to make the most of the conversation. As we mentioned earlier, every conversation will be dictated the by current recruiting situation, but here are a few topics that should be covered and some sample questions from each…
1. Academics - Simply put, academics are the most important part of the process. If the college coach does not share your academic goals then it might be time to look at other options. Here are some academic questions every recruit might want to ask:
* What are the admission requirements for an athlete?
* Will my specific major interfere with the athletic schedule?
* What are some of the most popular majors for athletes on your team?
* Does your team have a full-time academic advisor?
* Do your players graduate in four years?
* Can the application fee be waived for athletes?
2. Athletics / Recruiting - These two topics overlap in many cases, as an athletic evaluation will determine how heavily the coaching staff will be recruiting a prospect. Here are some “must ask” questions for recruits at any point in the process:
* Has your coaching staff evaluated me?
* Where do I fit on your recruiting board?
* Have you offered scholarships to others in my class? At my position?
* Have any other athletes in my class accepted the offers?
* How many players will you be recruiting at my position?
* Where will you be recruiting this season / spring / summer?
* What types of off-season activities are expected?
* What does the training program consist of at your school?
* What is your recruiting timeline?
* Is there a good time to come visit your school?
3. Scholarship - As we noted, it is rarely appropriate for a recruit to ask if they will receive a scholarship in an initial phone conversation, however there are a few questions that will help you gauge your scholarship possibilities at that school:
* How many scholarships do you have available for my class?
* Am I under consideration for a scholarship?
* What types of academic scholarships are available? What about other sorts of grants and aid?
* Do I have to apply before a scholarship is offered?
* What happens if I get injured?
4. College Life Questions - Even though athletics will obviously play a major role in the life of a collegiate student-athlete, every recruit should make sure they are going to be happy on campus even when they are not with the team. Make sure to ask about some of the following:
* What is the housing situation like? Do teammates typically live together?
* Do student-athletes stay on campus during the summer?
* Is it possible to work part-time in addition to playing a sport and studying?
* What is a typical “day in the life” like for a member of your team during the season? What about during the off-season?
5. Important Final Questions - While there are many directions that a conversation might take with a college coach, one key goal should be to find out what comes next:
* What are the next steps in this process?
* When is the next time we can speak / meet?
* Is there anything I can provide you with that will help you further evaluate me?
Hopefully this list will provide recruits a starting point for the type of questions they should ask a college coach. By no means is this list comprehensive, but it should assist a student athlete as they prepare for their first conversation with a coach.
As you can tell, there is quite a bit of information that student-athletes need to gather…This is one of the most important decisions a young person will make in their life. Get as much information as possible! That is also one of the main reasons why recruiting is all about building relationships. This process does not happen overnight, and will consist of a number of different situations in which a recruit communicates with a college coach. Phone conversations just happen to be an important initial step in building that relationship.
If you are prospect, at any age, which has yet to begin developing a relationship with a college coach, you might be falling behind. There are other prospects, starting freshmen year or earlier (your competition), who have already started speaking with college coaches. The earlier you start that relationship, the more time you will have to make the best decision possible. Make sure to get started today!
Editor’s Note: Thank you to the NCSA for this article.
With the advent of the Internet, research has become so much easier. However, with so many colleges to choose from, online research can still be a daunting task. The following article outlines an online tool to help make that job a little bit easier.
Researching schools is an essential part of the recruiting process. A great new website that potential student-athletes can check out is Unigo.com. The site is entirely free and while it is overseen by editors it’s built on content submitted by actual students at the university. The information submitted isn’t just simple reviews, but a robust array of pictures and videos to give prospective students a more accurate view of what its like to actually attend a school. You can also create customized social networks of potential students interested in specific schools or common characteristics.
Obviously, there is tremendous value in getting information directly from current students. Athletes have a unique opportunity to get a snap shot inside a college’s athletic program by taking unofficial and official visits. A little understood rule is that students can begin taking unofficial visits as freshman. The more schools you visit, the better your chances of finding the right fit.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to National Collegiate Scouting Association for this article.
“I observe their overall communication patterns with teammates. I watch during timeouts. I watch what happens when the team is losing. Who’s positive? I watch their demeanor during the game. When they come out of a game, do they cheer for their teammates, or are they just waiting to get back in the game? I want leaders. These are really character issues more than skills. Then of course, there are the God-given abilities - speed and size.
A lot of times I’ll see reports that I’m “recruiting someone.” Well, it depends on your definition of “recruiting someone.” I’m sending out hundreds of letters, but I’m certainly not “recruiting” hundreds of players. And players are getting letters from everyone. It doesn’t mean they’re getting scholarship offers. A player should also know that a school’s interest is serious and genuine when she begins to receive personal, hand-written notes from the head coach. If the head coach comes to see you play in your junior year, you’re in pretty good shape, though this is not always true. Sometimes I’ll see a prospect’s name on a lot of lists, so I’ll put her on my list, too. Then I see her play, and she’s just not what I’m looking for. But, generally, if the coach is there, it’s a good sign.
Young athletes need to ask better questions during the recruiting process. The one question players don’t ask is the most obvious one: Are you offering me a scholarship? It amazes me that they never ask that!”
Editor’s Note: A special thank you to the National Collegiate Scouting Association for this article.
The nation’s recession and credit market freeze are forcing parents of college aged children to look at different option than they were considering even a few months ago. Families are having to make choices based on affordability rather than academic merits. The Chicago Tribune took a look at a few Illinois families struggling with difficult decisions. Here is some of what they reported:
“Illinois students who may have applied to elite colleges-they are still applying there but are also applying to financially feasible schools, such as state schools,” said Jean Childers, a career center assistant at Naperville Central High School.
“What we don’t want is a student to apply for five great schools, get accepted into all of them and then have Mom and Dad saying, ‘Oh, my gosh, we thought you would get a lot more in scholarships,’ ” Childers said. “Scholarship dollars have dried up at many schools.” Over the last year, high school seniors have applied to an average of 7.3 universities and colleges-up from 5.4 the prior year-as they try to ensure getting accepted into a school they can afford, said Craig Powell, CEO of ConnectEDU, a college planner. “We have seen 60 to 65 percent of students are applying to public versus private schools,” Powell said. “A year ago that was just the inverse.”
Of course, athletes compete for scholarship dollars on a different playing field. While athletic departments across America are feeling the crunch as well, they hold up quite well when compared to academia at large. But, with the crunch it does mean that student athletes need to understand the financial aid process better than ever.
Editor’s Note: A special thanks the National Collegiate Scouting Association for this article.