It’s that time of year for many student-athlete families to make one of the hardest decisions that will possibly impact their lives forever. Here are a few tips to help you navigate thru the gauntlet called college recruiting.
Know Who You Are You asked, “What am I passionate about ? ” “What are my interests for real?” Not the rep you built in building the sports image!
Be honest clear away the voices that talk inside your head that don’t really belong to you but are voices of your parents, your peers, your mentors, you know the chorus of voices that are composed of other peoples’ aspirations and ideas.
Being an authentic human being means detaching from what the world wants and thinks you should be and developing the courage (which can be a process — so have patience) to do and think what you want.
Go where you are CELEBRATED not where you are TOLERATED!Yes there are movies where the kid goes to school that is not enthused by you coming to their institution but in the end of the movie they love the player and he becomes an all-American and moves onto pro. Yes it does happen but it’s a long shot!!! It happened to my roommate! More than likely, if you’ve been told you weren’t the first choice – e.g., you are the C list recruit, you weren’t invited as a preferred walk-on, phone calls go unanswered when you call your area recruiter, and letters are their only form of communication typically. You filling a gap intended for someone else. You need to go to the school that contacts you and delivers on what they say they are going to do. Yes some schools will bait and switch but overall the school that contacts as much as the system allows simply wants you! The one that doesn’t contact you doesn’t want you.
Start your selection process based on projecting your business profession or vocation five years from now. Trying to make a decision on where you see yourself possibly professionally not necessarily academically. What do I mean by that? What you study in school may not directly relate to where you may be based on your academic interest. Plus the class can be boring but the profession may be interesting. For example, some math or science course are required that will just put you to sleep, but you may need it to become that killer FBI agent or Forensic scientist. It cracks me up when kids tell me they don’t like history, math, economics, or science while having done very little or no research on possible professions. Go back to knowing yourself! If you know you like $$$, then traditional teaching is probably not the answer unless you become professor.
Parents stay involved through the entire process. Help your kid come to an educated decision even if you have never played sports or been recruited before. Listen, learn and research to help your kid make a very important decision. Don’t say, ” Well we taught our kid what they need to know.” Why? They are still 17 or 18?!! Making a decision about one of the most important roads you take in your life requires intuition, experience and wisdom not necessarily age. Okay so you may not have been an All-American , Rhodes Scholar, or number one draft pick but you still know how to think, read people and help your kid make a decision based on digging for information or helping identify people that do understand. Stay tuned in! Don’t go screaming be a MAN! Boy! You give the keys to a rookie pilot to fly a 747 that can’t fly the plane (BTW do 747s have keys LOL I don’t know ) …guess what? Most likely, odds are they’ll crash the plane.You know what I’m saying! In the words of Jerry McGuire, “Help me help you!” Don’t shut them out or down, even when the student-athlete may have some ridiculous expectations during the recruiting process.
Families don’t make a decision based on the signing announcement Don’t get me wrong it’s tough to fight the feeling. I see it every year families get excited about getting that picture in the paper with the sweatshirt and baseball cap and that letter of intent signature in front of the school, auditorium, and in some cases the TV stations. I thought it was hilarious to see the MOM on ESPN show total disappointment on national TV when her son chose Alabama instead of LSU because she thought LSU was the best team in the nation LOL. It’s funny since BAMA won. I doubt if she was disappointed because she thought LSU had a better computer science or medical program than BAMA. You would’ve thought Mama got the scholarship! That’s the extreme when dealing with the folks that have 50 offers. Then you have the other extreme where you will see the doctor, priest, parents, Aunt Lucille, the principal, psychiatrist, babysitter, club coach, high school coach, uncle Bob, boyfriend or girlfriend standing behind the 20 student-athletes committing to 20 D3 schools that don’t give scholarships signing blank pieces of paper. Don’t get locked in on the image. You still have to show up the next day! Remember it’s staying there not getting there.
Try to select a school that gives YOU a “Champion” No you don’t have to suck up and brown nose your coaches but chemistry helps. Know when you have it and know when you don’t. Why? Because your Head coach or position coaches are very important to your success in most cases. You may not get to play because you just get along but you better have someone that mentions your name when spots are up for grabs fighting for you to make the travel squad, communicate when you are injured, nominate you for specialities teams, make the all-stars, give you a break or benefit of doubt when you screw up and praise you to others when you succeed, if not you can make it solely based on your performance. Sometimes that’s enough but it’s better to have that champion around when the bad day finally comes & believe me that bad day will come! Simply put most coaches, deans, and professors root for the person that reminds them of themselves, the person they wish they were, or the person that makes them feel good about who they are. Opportunities don’t have to happen. Champions help protect you or pave the way to put you onstage. From there it’s on you.
Don’t Kill the Family for the Dream
I see it all of the time where the student-athlete and the family will spend more $$$ in pursuit of the major school and scholarship than the school provides if they award you a scholarship! Think about it. If you spend $15,000 grand per year for certain sports that split scholarship money three ways for some of their best players, what are you chasing. Trust me your impressed neighbors will not pay that college bill when it arrives. For example, most guys don’t know that Pro LAX players have jobs while they are playing in season. Sometimes save the $$$ for grad school and get your undergrad career started possibly at a lower athletic level. It depends on what you are studying.
Finally Select the school that FITS
Don’t bite more than you can chew. It will catch up with you. For example, really understand what a preferred walk-on status means at a school. Some schools treat their walk-on like everyone else. While other schools, treat walk-ons lower than you could possibly imagine. Do your checking! Even at a school that treats walk-ons well, typically the opportunity will not arise until spring ball. In other cases, make sure you can handle the load. D1 sports is a full time job. At the top D3s it is still a full time job. Sometimes the chance to play is more important than the chance to compete against the best. Is it better to catch 70 against lesser competition than to catch 20 against superior competition. Who knows? There is no right answer. There is a right answer for YOU. If you are a smart student, go where you are “valued”. For example, if you have to stay up working on some special project in a graduate level, you should be able to get a break on the athletic side to get a little rest. Don’t go where they tell you you’ve got your priorities wrong – academics first, athletics second. LOL