The Difference Between Generic and Serious Interest from a Coach

understanding college coaches emailsAs a recruit or family it can be difficult to feel like you are making progress in recruiting when coaches send what feel like impersonal emails. People are wise enough to know, generic letters and camp invites don’t constitute serious recruiting interest. When trying to determine if a coach is interested, it is easy to misconstrue a short email for a generic email and think coaches aren’t interested. In the question below, a recruit nearly made the mistake of giving up on schools that were showing strong interest because he didn’t understand the coach’s emails.

I have contacted multiple coaches and updating them on my progress. Three coaches have responded multiple times. All going like this, “thanks for the email. See you on the field. Keep the updates coming.”

Are they interested in me or are these emails generic emails?

Every time I contact one of these three coaches they end with giving me their cell # and other various contact information. They also sometimes send emails “we would like to personally invite you to our camp on date… So and so.”

What does this all mean? Should I bother continue contacting these coaches as I feel I am going nowhere in this process.

These are not generic coach responses

Depending on the size of the program, a single coach could be sharing correspondence like that described with 100 recruits. They simply don’t have time to write lengthy emails to “show” how interested they are. Coach’s emails fall into two categories, those with their cell phone/personal contact info and those without contact information. These email responses might be short, but when a coach includes their personal contact information (cell phone number), they are showing genuine interest.

What does this mean for this recruit?

My guess is this recruit is wondering things like, “are they going to offer me a scholarship” and “what else do I need to do to get more interest.” It is easy to feel like things aren’t going anywhere when you have exchanged multiple emails and the conversation doesn’t appear to be changing.

I would say this recruit is at the half-way point in the recruiting process. This is where coaches have identified him as a potential recruit (they feel he qualifies athletically and academically) and they are moving forward with more in-depth evaluations. As a recruit you want to come away from this period in the recruiting process knowing things like:

  • How many athletes is the program recruiting this year?
  • Do you like the way the program is run?
  • Do your expectations on playing time match what the coach is thinking?
  • Do they plan on offering you a scholarship? If so, how much?

The recruit should take the opportunity to call each coach and begin asking questions about their level of interest and where they see him fitting in with their program. Additionally, he should strongly consider attending these schools camps. Camps give coaches the type of detailed evaluations they count on when making their final decisions between scholarship and walk-on athletes.

The lessons for other recruits and families

This recruit mentioned a critical piece of information, “I have contacted multiple coaches and updating them on my progress. Three coaches have responded…” Notice that not every coach is responding to their emails. We don’t know how many programs they have contacted in total, but you must remember, the majority of coaches aren’t going to respond to your emails. Don’t focus on who you are not hearing from and focus on those who are responding.

Know what to expect and when. After you have gone back-and-froth a few times with a coach, you might be thinking it’s “time to start talking scholarship” and the coach is thinking “time for serious evaluations.” One of the things you want to know with any program is, what’s next. Try to get in the habit of asking a coach what is next in the process. You might not get a response, but when you do, getting that insight into what they are thinking can be invaluable for setting your expectations.

Do you have a recruiting question you want answered? You can ask below in the comments or email me directly (david@athleticscholarships.net). Your questions will not be shared publicly if you do not want them to.


What does it Mean When a Coach Says: Trying to Get You an Offer?

scholarships offers from college coachesSome of the best advice comes from the questions others families and recruits ask. While no two recruits are the same, there are a lot of common questions and relatable situations that can be applied to your recruiting. In this post I share an excellent question about getting a scholarship offer from a coach.

“I am a junior football recruit. I have been in contact with a coach from a school and have been in contact with him messaging wise. What should I think when after I took a visit and talked to him and other coaches he sends me a message that says “Thanks for the update. I am trying to get you an offer.” How should I handle it? And what should I expect?”

What does the coach mean “trying to get you an offer?”

College coaches compete for scholarship money within their program. As an example, coaches might have three scholarships for their position and five scholarships “at-large” where the entire coaching staff will decide where they think the next best available players/biggest needs are. After coaches have extended offers for their allocated scholarships as a program they will where the next best recruits are. This is where a coach is debating against other potential recruits to “get you a scholarship.”

What does it mean for the recruit?

This means this recruit is very close to getting an offer from this school, but it isn’t a sure thing. The reason they don’t have an offer yet is probably because the coach has recruits they rank ahead of them and he has already extended those recruits offers. There are two ways this school will be making an offer to this athlete. The coach could win the debate and gets the additional scholarship or one of the recruits offered ahead of this recruit declines and the coach has a scholarship they were going to give to someone else. There isn’t much the recruit can do to change the immediate situation, however, they can ensure they are in position for a possible scholarship offer later by maintaining the relations and checking in with them from time to time.

The lesson for other recruits

The competition for scholarships doesn’t stop after a coaches evaluation. Once they have evaluated and “ranked you” against the other recruits, another competition begins. Coach’s need to use their allocated scholarships and offers in a way to try and lock up their top recruits before someone else does. If they miss on a couple higher recruits or suddenly get more scholarships they can make more offers. If, when and how much of a scholarship offer depends on where the programs ranks you and how many scholarships they have that year.

The situation above is actually the more common when receiving a scholarship offer than the one you see on ESPN with multiple offers in front of you on signing day. For every scholarship a coach might have, they will probably offer 2-3 athletes. They aren’t going to be able to speak directly about the offer because the truth is they don’t know what their scholarships situation is until their other offers get accepted or denied.

Do you have questions about your recruiting process? Are you having a difficult time interrupting what a coach is saying to you? Ask below in the comments or email me directly david@athleticscholarships.net.


NCAA Interp: Institutions Can Pay More Academic Document Costs

Helpful little interp published by the NCAA yesterday:

The committee confirmed that an institution may pay expenses (e.g., document fees, express delivery charges) to obtain information or receive documents that are necessary to certify or evaluate the academic standing of a prospective student-athlete (e.g., transcripts, translation of transcripts).

The translation of transcripts is the most significant of these costs. Getting an official translation of a prospect’s transcripts can cost hundreds of dollars especially if it has to be on short notice. Combined with a couple other interpretations issued recently, the only cost an institution can’t pay regarding a prospect’s academic information is registration with the NCAA Eligibility Center. Hopefully that will come soon, if the cost is not eliminated entirely.


Timeless Advice on Dealing With College Coaches

advice for communicating with college coachesBill Pennington is a writer for the New York Times. Back in 2008 when his children were going through the recruiting process, he wrote many excellent articles detailing the various aspects of recruiting and scholarships. One of my favorite pieces was “Recruits Clamor for More From Coaches With Less.” In it, he interviews several college coaches about the balance of recruiting an athlete and having to explain to them the limited scholarship money available. While the article is now over 5 years old, much of the advice is still relevant. Here are some of the the key points.

Non-Revenue Sports Aren’t Full-Rides

“Then I tell them I have a 25% scholarship for them… And no one believes you, but that’s a good Division I baseball scholarship. You have to convince his parents that you’re being really fair.”

Unless you play a head-count sport (guaranteed full-rides) your scholarship will probably be a partial scholarship. When we talk about “negotiating” a scholarship, we don’t mean keep looking for a full-ride. Often times a successful negotiation is going from a 10% scholarship to 25% or an unrecruited walk-on (not guaranteed a spot on the team) to recruited walk-on (on the team but no scholarship).

Coaches Talk to One Another

“Families will try to play the coaches off each other… What they don’t know is that we coaches all talk to each other… We will call the other coach”

I am a big proponent of having multiple schools recruiting you and being able to tell coaches you have interest or offers from other schools; this is really your only way to negotiate with a coach. But you have to be 100% truthful about the nature of the interest coming from other schools. It is tempting to exaggerate an offer, but when one coach calls the other, they will get the truth and both schools could stop recruiting you if they found out you lied.

You Will Feel Pressure to Decide

“I’ve waited patiently in the past and lost all three.”

This is a coach talking about how she makes scholarship offers. She will make the same offer to three recruits and let them know, the first one to commit gets the scholarship, the other two lose out. When or if this happens to a family it can feel almost unfair. The truth is you can’t go through the recruiting process without feeling pressure from coaches. Recruiting is competitive and scholarships are hard to come by. At some point you need to be prepared to just make a decision or have other options.

Talk to Those Who Know

“Go sit with the parents of the current players… By the end of the game, they’ll know everything — good or bad. And that’s what really matters.”

It is a great idea to talk to parents of college athletes or former athletes, but, I would caution against trying to talk with the parents of the school you are getting recruited by (as is suggested by the coach in this article). Technically, the parents are considered “boosters” for the program and per NCAA rules aren’t allowed to communicate with recruits or their families. You can always talk with former college athletes or their parents and often times their perspective will open your eyes to the true recruiting process.

It is critical you understand the realty of scholarships for your sport. Not every team has 85 full-ride scholarships like NCAA DI FBS football. Most sports have to stretch their scholarship money and expecting to get full-ride is going to leave you and the coaches recruiting you frustrated. If you have questions about your scholarships in you sport or are feeling unsure about the types of feedback you are getting from coaches, leave them in the comments below or email me directly david@athleticscholarships.net.


Triathlon Takes Major Step Toward Becoming Next NCAA Sport

The NCAA’s Committee on Women’s Athletics has recommended all three divisions introduce legislation to make triathlon the next emerging sport for women. If adopted, NCAA triathlon competition would start in the fall of 2014.

The recommendation from CWA is for athletes to participate in four to six triathlon meets per year. The competition format would be shorter than an Ironman triathlon and held in more spectator-friendly areas like doing the swimming in pools and the biking over a loop. Scholarship aid might be available right from the start, with 3.5 equivalency scholarships in 2014-15 rising to 6.5 in 2017-18.

12 schools from all over the country have signed on, including four schools in Colorado and a BCS school (Stanford). As an emerging sport, triathlon would have 10 years to get 40 schools to sponsor it and become an NCAA championship sport, or show steady progress toward that goal.

There are currently three emerging sports for women: equestrian, rugby, and sand volleyball. Sand volleyball was the most recent addition, after a bitter fight in 2009 and 2010. The success of emerging sports making it to championship status is mixed. Ice hockey, rowing, bowling, and water polo have become NCAA championships for women, and sand volleyball is well on its way. But archery, badminton, synchronized swimming, and team handball were removed from the list in 2009 and equestrian and rugby may need to show more growth soon.

The CWA is already pushing to avoid a repeat of the sand volleyball process, when the sport had to survive an override vote to make it onto the emerging sports list. Unlike sand volleyball, triathlon is not tied as closely to another sport; a sand program was seen as an obligation by many successful indoor volleyball programs. The fall schedule may also calm some fears that triathlon will be used as a general training program/extra scholarships for other sports as well.

Divisions II and III may sponsor the legislation immediately. Division I will be trickier as the Board of Directors still seems committed to only looking at Rules Working Group legislation in 2013-14. But an initiative from the Committee on Women’s Athletics may break through and get consideration by the Division I membership.


International Students: Look at Junior College for Opportunities in the United States

International Students: Look at Junior College for Opportunities in the United States

Junior college can help international athletes come to the United States

No matter what country an athlete comes from, international students who want to play at a college in the United States face a task that can feel intimidating. For international athletes, simply getting a coach’s attention tends to require more effort than it would from an equally-skilled American student-athlete. That shouldn’t stop an international looking for a scholarship though; with some hard work, knowledge of the rules for international students, and making sure they are eligible, international students end up finding scholarships in the United States quite often.

For those international student that may have started the process a little later than normal, or those struggling to break through, junior college gives you a chance to continue your academic and athletic career at the college level. After one or two years, you can transfer to a 4-year school and complete a degree.

How Could a Community College Make a Difference?

Everyone in the world wants to play at an NCAA division I school, but only a small percentage of athletes get to do so. Attending junior college can increase your chances of playing at a division I school, but it will also open opportunities at schools that most international athletes have never heard of. There are hundreds, and possibly even thousands (depending on the sport), of schools that offer opportunities to student-athletes outside of the division I level. Playing at a junior college for a few years allows athletes to learn more about the options available in the US. Getting some experience in the US will help you prepare for the division I level as well.

One of the Best Options For Athletes Who don’t Speak English Well

To be eligible to play for an NCAA school, international students from countries where English isn’t the native language must pass the TOEFL exam. If you are unsure whether you can pass it, or if you have failed it, junior college provides an opportunity to improve your English before attending an NCAA school.

The One Downside

Junior college opportunities are still competitive. Within the last few years junior colleges have increased the rules for international scholarships. Most junior colleges are now allowed to have only three international students on scholarship. This rule was implemented so junior colleges could focus on helping more local students, but considering the tuition costs at junior colleges are so much lower, an international athlete could become a preferred walk-on and still pay less in tuition than they would at many four year schools, even with a scholarship.

Do have any questions about how attending a junior college can help you out? Just ask us in the comments section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!


Lacrosse Proves to Help One Football Recruit Get Better

Serious athletes take all aspects of their training into consideration; they are always looking for ways to improve and Lacrosse Proves to Help One Football Recruit Get Betterbe the best. You may think that because you are a two-sport athlete that you are doing all the work you need because you are always working out, getting stronger and training. No doubt, being a multi-sport athlete will keep you in good shape, but if you want to improve on the skills you need most for your main sport, then you will want to hear how a multi-sport high school football player found a new way to be exceptional in his sport.

What One Football Player Discovered

Alex Collins, a high school running back and 3-sport athlete, always thought he was on the right track. He played basketball to keep in shape, and he ran track to get quicker. Both sports, he thought, were giving him the ultimate training advantage. He thought he was set for the rest of high school; he was going to continue his routine and then hopefully get recruited to play football, or so he thought…

Collins and Lacrosse

Collins was definitely a stand-out football player, making his way to compete in college. He had never considered the benefits of lacrosse until one of his football coaches who also coached the lacrosse team asked him to try-out. His coach told him playing lacrosse during the off-season could definitely help with footwork and coordination. So Collins, being an all-around athlete, took on the challenge with no hesitation, “You just want to be able to show that any sport is possible as long as you put your mind to it.” This attitude is what makes good athletes great, they are willing to do what is needed to put themselves in a better position for the sake of their sport, even if it puts them in a vulnerable position by trying something new.

Having an Open Mind

Athletes who are willing to take the advice of coaches, even if it seems unconventional, will be in a better position to continually improve their character and athleticism. As an athlete it will be your job to do what is necessary to continue to improve your game at all costs necessary. Just like Collins, take the challenge with an open mind. Like he said, “Every normal athlete does football and then track as their off-season sport, but this was something new.” Lacrosse is something that gave him more skills that he could later use to capitalize during football.

An Athlete with a Purpose

Collins first took on lacrosse as a challenge, and then found he had a love for the game. He convinced his other football teammates to try-out for lacrosse and learn the game too. He worked diligently on improving his footwork, awareness and visions, all skills which will help him when football season approaches. He now acts as an ambassador for lacrosse teaching other football players how they can train better in their off-season while still having fun and competing.

Collins’ transition to learning a new sport is inspirational. If you have questions about improving your skills or finding better ways to train in the off-season, then leave your comments below or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+!