When we talk about finding the college that’s the right fit for you, we often discuss three important areas: the academic fit, the athletic fit and the social fit.
But conversely, we need to remember that coaches are looking at whether we are an ideal recruit for their program. Because at the same time that coaches are looking for student-athletes who will be the right fit — who will say yes to an offer to join their roster — they’re also looking for recruits who say no, whether it’s explicitly, in an email or a phone call, or implicitly.
Here are some ways to be an ideal recruit so you don’t unintentionally signal no to a coach.
An ideal recruit is honest about the right fit.
That “right fit” question is a two-way street. Are you going to benefit from the school’s academics? Are you the right kind of a player for the program? Are you the right size for your position — or do you race at the speeds the team requires? Is the campus social scene a place where you see yourself fitting in?
At the same time, is the school right for you? If you’re from Wisconsin and you know you don’t want to have to fly to get back and forth from home to college, talking to coaches on one of the coasts probably wouldn’t be the best fit, no matter how great of a program the coach offers.
An ideal recruit is respectful in your communication to college coaches.
Depending on where you are in the recruiting process, you might be getting questionnaires, or form letters, or emails or even phone calls from coaches. Often there are strict rules that govern when a college coach is able to communicate with student-athletes.
The important thing for you to know is that no matter how far along you are in the recruiting process, being respectful to college coaches, and replying in a timely fashion to any type of communication you receive, is paramount.
Again, some coaches are searching for the “no”.
That’s not meant to be scary. Actually, many student-athletes are intimidated by the prospect of saying no to a college coach, which makes a lot of sense; they’re someone you deeply respect and want to impress.
But you should remember that if a college coach has to hunt you down because you’re not being respectful in your communication, or being proactive in reaching out to them — you’re not going to get recruited by that coach. Because there are likely more ideal recruits, who are signalling deeper interest in that program than you are.
So if you want to keep a door open (and we recommend that you should never burn bridges with any college coaches
An ideal recruit is courageous and a leader.
Coach Sue Enquist tells us that the number one trait coaches want to see in their athletes is courage: the courage to get to practice early, to work harder than your teammates while you’re there, and to stay late when you need to.
The courageous student-athlete is one who knows what the right thing to do is for herself, but is also able to convince her peers what the right thing to do is:
If you want to separate yourself in the recruiting process, start right now practicing your courage. It’s not easy. It’s so much easier in high school to go with the flow, fit right in. “Everyone is doing it, Mom.”
Just take little baby steps to work on your courage. Step out, step up and be the one that others will follow. And, as my Dad always used to say: When in doubt, get out.
Be honest, be respectful, be courageous — and you’ll be more like the ideal recruit than ever before.
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