Veteran College Coach Debunks 3 Common Assumptions
FULL-RIDE ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIP! As little Johnny or Suzie first steps on to the field or court and makes their first “great” play as a pee-wee athlete, many parents start having visions of paying for college with an athletic scholarship. They start to invest in private training, club teams, and travel all across the country for tournaments. Why not encourage them in the sport they have so much passion for, so they can get a quality college education on a full ride athletic scholarship?
After all, my athlete is talented so they will definitely be offered a scholarship, right? And every college athlete has full tuition, housing, and fees completely covered right?
Directly from the www.NCAA.org, “NCAA Divisions I and II schools provide more that $2.9 billion in athletics scholarships annually to more than $150,000 student-athletes. Division III schools do not offer athletics scholarships. Only about two-percent of high school athletes are awarded athletics scholarships to compete in college.” It’s a staggeringly small percentage, right? Well, I’m here to help. I am a recruiting educator after being a college coach for 14 years and an NCAA Compliance Director.
I served as a college head coach at the NCAA Division I, II, and NAIA level. I have offered athletic scholarships to hundreds of kids. I have offered walk-on positions to dozens. I have also turned down many prospective high school student-athletes, as they were not the right fit athletically, academically, or in their character for my teams.
And regretfully, I have missed out on a few top recruits over my tenure as they chose another college or we simply did not know about them! Yes, you read that right! My assistants and I were very good recruiters, but sometimes we did not know about a talented athlete who would be a good fit for our school!
Now, I am a recruiting educator. I am here to help kids not fall through the cracks with individual consulting, seminars in high schools and clubs, podcasts, and radio programs. (Click here to see Coach Renee featured on ESPN Radio). I help to educate coaches, families, school counselors, and administrators on the college recruiting process with statistics like those above from the NCAA.
I also do these weekly recruiting blogs and run eight different Facebook groups (Links to join at the bottom of this page!). I run all of these blogs and Facebook completely FREE to help parents and student-athletes truly understand how the process goes, away from what you often see in Sports Illustrated. (All I ask in return is that you share these with other parents, coaches, athletic directors, school counselors, and student-athletes who need to hear this information!)
For the past 1.5 years, I have been interviewing 65 college coaches and athletic directors for my upcoming book (due out late 2018), Looking For A FULL RIDE?: An Insider’s Recruiting Guide. So many of these interviews offer similar answers to questions about what a high school student-athlete should and should not do in the recruiting process. Many of the athletic directors especially, state that there are so many assumptions families just because they have seen a story in the media. I want to debunk 3 misconceptions I hear from student-athletes, parents, and coaches quite often in my recruiting education seminars:
1) “I’m the Best Athlete on My Team. College Coaches will be ‘Knocking Down My Door’!”
After watching the recruiting process unfold in various movies and other media, many think every good athlete is going to be chased down by various college coaches just because they have above average talent. In all reality, only a few are really chased like the process seen in the movie, The Blind Side.
Instead, an athlete needs to be marketing themselves to college coaches! They should start sending college coaches emails during their freshman and sophomore years to let them know about their interest in their college. This includes sending your GPA, intended major, position, a 5-10 minutes video-link of game film (How Do I Make a Video for a College Coach?), future game schedules, and your coach’s contact information. The student-athlete should also fill out the recruiting questionnaire on the college’s athletic website to be placed into their databases. Here’s a FREE Special Report on “Strategies to Emailing A College Coach”.
2) “I REALLY Want My Child to Play at This College. I’ll Contact the Coach to Let Them Know About My Child’s Interest.”
Parents, I’m going to say this as kindly as I can…Please do not do this! This is the number 1 mistake that can be made. The college coach wants to hear from the prospective student-athlete, NOT the parents. With college coaches receiving 100s of emails a month from recruits, many use parents contacting them as an easy way of filtering through the list. Student-athletes should be contacting coaches as they are the ones who are going to play for that coach, not the parent.
Parents can help their children with the process by proofreading emails, keeping spreadsheets of information from various colleges interactions, and helping to do research to narrow down the search of what might be a good fit academically, athletically, and socially.
So why shouldn’t the parent contact the college coach for their child? It shows coaches that:
- the parent is more interested in the student playing at the next level than the child,
- the student-athlete is likely lazy and not wanting to take charge of their future, and
- These parents are likely going to be “helicopter” parents if this child plays in their program.
Want to know more about what a parent’s role should be in the college recruiting process ? Read this blog that had over 5000 shares on Facebook: “My High School Student-Athlete is Sooooooo Busy….I’ll Contact the College Coach For Them!”
3) “I Have Been Invited to Their Summer/ID Camp, so They Must Want Me as a Recruit!”
Since the NCAA restricts some of the types of communication that college coaches can have with prospects, one should not believe a camp invite equals a coach’s interest in you as a recruit. Having worked hundreds of camps as a college coach for my own program and being on camp staffs with schools in the ACC, SEC, Atlantic 10, Colonial Athletic Association, and many more, I want to tell you one simple fact that most college coaches probably don’t want to get out: Most college coaches use camps as a way to make money for their programs, their assistants, and themselves.
But Coach, are there some camps that are legitimately trying to use their camps to identify potential recruits for their programs? YES!
If you are very interested in a specific college, it is recommended that you attend one of their camps during the summer between your freshman/sophomore year and also during your sophomore/junior year. This will allow you to see the campus, interact with the coaches and current players, and understand more about that specific program.
It’s important to note that the NCAA does regulate some of the types of conversations a college coach can have with a camper while on campus. There has been some recent legislation released (on the NCAA website) regarding these interactions depending on the sport and student-athlete’s graduation year. Here’s a blog to help you decide which camps you should attend, “I’m Being Recruited by That College…They Invited Me to Their Camp.”
If you are looking to continuing to play your sport in college, do your research on the college to make sure it fits you academically, athletically, and socially. Make sure you let them know early in your high school career that you are interested by sending them a professional email so you won’t fall through the cracks of the college coach evaluating you!
Want some help with the recruiting process? Join some of our 9 Facebook Groups:
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- Club/HS Coaches Learning College Recruiting Process (All Sports)
- Play College Soccer (Soccer Specifically)
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- Christian Competitors (Coaches & Athletes Serving Christ @Field/Court/Gym) (Sports Ministry for All)
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Coach Renee Lopez
As a 17 year coaching veteran, Coach Renee Lopez is a recruiting expert for high school student-athletes. She uses her NCAA Division I, II, and NAIA Head Coaching experience to help families navigate the recruiting process to be identified by college coaches and help them find the right “fit” for playing at the next level. She has produced 3 All-Americans, over 30 All-Conference athletes and Her teams have been honored with awards for team academic accomplishments, sportsmanship, and sports ministry. In addition, Coach Renee Lopez has been named Coach of the Year by her peers.
She presents recruiting seminars across the country, has recently been featured in USA Weekly, with the National Alliance for Youth Sports, on SiriusXM Radio and ESPN Radio. She is the author of the upcoming book, Looking For A FULL RIDE?: An Insider’s Recruiting Guide where she has interviewed over 40 college recruiters across all sports and college levels. In addition, she runs 8 Facebook groups to help facilitate conversations on college recruiting education, coaching education, leadership development, and sports ministry. She is also a certified speaker, trainer and coach for the John Maxwell Team, Jon Gordon Company, 3Dimensional Coaching, and the Positive Coaching Alliance.
She also does private consulting for student-athletes and their families to help in understanding the often daunting process of recruiting. (See one family’s testimonial.) If you are looking for help in the college recruiting process, please email Coach Renee Lopez at email@example.com.