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10 Questions to Ask a College Coach or Recruiter

10 Questions to Ask a College Coach or Recruiter

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It is September 1st. For high school Juniors who are student-athletes interested in continuing their athletic careers at the collegiate level, its D-Day. From this day forward college coaches have free reign to offer, entice, flatter, cajole, and even beg you to come to their school and play for them.

If you have declared yourself eligible and have an NCAA Eligibility number, look out.

But how do you do it? How do you decide which is the best school for you of the ones that are recruiting you? What do you want from the school? What are your five year goals? How do you weed through all the schools saying “Pick Me!” to find YOUR rose among thorns?

Once you have determined what you want from a college or university, here are 10 Questions to ask a college coach/recruiter that will help you determine the school that is most conducive to your goals and success. Remember, this entire experience is about YOU, the student-athlete, and your ultimate goals for your future.

  1. What is your overall graduation rate?
  2. What is the graduation rate for athletes?
  3. What is the graduation rate for athletes in your sport?
    1. Do you plan to graduate from college or is it just a spring-board to professional athletics after one or two years?
  4. How many athletes make the Olympics, get drafted or play professionally from your program? (This is in keeping with your 5 year goals)
    1. Determine if this program can get you where you want to be within your collegiate career.
  5. How much longer is the head coach/jumps coach/assistant coach/recruiting coach’s contract?
    1. Student-Athletes primarily join a program because of a coach or coaches. It is important to know how much time you will have with that person BEFORE you commit.

 

Diversity

Another important aspect of being a student-athlete is not just about having the financial obligation of  your education covered.  It is important as a student-athlete in college that your school provide you with a sense of self and well-being during the time that you spend there.  After all, this portion of your life is the final step before adult-hood.  And a important part of your growing sense of self is diversity.

Diversity is simply variety. Diversity is necessary in the college environment in order to portray the organization as an “all-inclusive” entity. Lack of diversity on a college campus is not wrong, however, it should be a prime consideration in choosing a school. If there is no one on your college campus like you, then how do you fit in and feel “at home”?

Ask the coach/recruiter these questions regarding diversity:

  1. Diversity in athletics?
    1. Is their diversity amongst the different sports offered at ABC College/University?
  2. Diversity in college/university?
    1. Diversity in the academic side of ABC College/University.
  3. Diversity in city/state?
    1. It is important to have someone in your school who can relate to you as a person outside of the realm of your sport or extracurricular pursuit.
  4. What is the student-athlete transfer rate for your program?
    1. Student-Athletes transfer for a myriad of reasons. See 3 and 4 above. This information can help you understand if the coaches at the institution are monitoring their programs for underlying problems.
  5. Do you offer the major I am seeking? (Majors can be found on college website, but ask if what you seek is not there.)

These 10 questions are just a guideline for how to begin a conversation with college recruiters. However, before you can ask these questions, you must be able to answer them for yourself.

OK! What are you waiting for high school Junior and parents? Get busy answering these questions!

Next Blog “How to determine what college or university is best for you”.

 

The Theory of Specialization – Sports

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How does the Theory of Specialization relate to sports? Is it real and why is it gaining traction across the country?

The theory of specialization was first introduced by Plato. It is an economic term and basically states that the need of a state could be supplied by four or five individuals. This theory was advanced through history by Adam Smith and Karl Marx. Smith believed that specialization of labor allowed companies to produce more goods and increase each worker’s ability. This theory, although not applied to sports in an official capacity, has been gaining traction throughout sports in the league ranks and is permeating the high school ranks as well. It seems to have skipped the middle school areas because middle school sports are more about inclusion rather than exclusion.

The theory of specialization, as it applies to sports, relates to how a parent, coach or other significant adult in a child’s life would lead a child to drop other sports and focus one particular sport in order to be really good or “specialized” in that area. That makes sense to some degree, but when a child is still growing physically and the body is changing does specialization help or hurt the child?

The body needs to use all of the muscles all of the time in a growing child and especially in an athlete. And the most natural way to do that is to participate in multiple sports. This is why in schools PE teachers have the students participate in all types of activities. This is to work all of the muscles. Cross-fit, the new take on cross-training from the 80s, is the new craze in fitness. It works all of the muscles. It makes for a well-rounded athletic specimen.

Specialization too soon can hurt the child and lead to the following:

  1. Impaired muscles
  2. Injury
  3. Sport-burnout
  4. Resentment

You can put this list in any order that you want. No matter how you slice it, the results are not healthy or helpful for a child pursuing sports.

The body needs to use all of the muscles in order to grow properly. If a person begins to specialize in one sport too soon, using the same muscles repetitively year round in this sport, the other muscles begin to suffer. This leads to the non-dominant muscle becoming pulled in an abnormal way because the dominant muscles are so much larger because of repetitive use.

Since the body is built symmetrically, it is designed to be relatively the same on both sides. But you can tell even in small things which part of your body you use the most. Here is a mini-experiment to prove my point: Look at your hands. Notice that your dominant, or writing, hand is slightly bigger than your non-dominant hand. It’s the same thing with your feet. The one that gets the most workout is the one that is bigger.   And the same thing applies with your entire body. If you are right side dominant then that side tends to be bigger because it does most of the work.

When the muscles specialize, they tend to shorten to the specific task that they are required to do. However, when the tasks change on a regular basis then the muscles becomes more flexible and elastic so that it is prepared to do any task asked of it.

So, back to specialization. Am I saying that specialization is wrong? No. It becomes necessary if your child is going to advance in sports beyond high school or even as a career choice. However, specialization should be done based on the desires of the child, not the desires of the coach or even the parent. A child should be allowed to be in all of the sports that he/she feels capable of competing in until they decide on what sport they want to specialize in. After all, your child is the one doing the work. And with kids if the work is not fun, then it is not worth doing.

Also, just because you get some attention from a recruiter in a sport, does not automatically mean that you should drop everything and focus solely on that sport. *CAVEAT* If you know the reality of you getting recruitment looks and possibly advancing in the 2nd or 3rd sport is very minute beyond high school then by all means do what is best for your child.

As parents you do have to perhaps limit the sports to what you can handle financially.   However, even if you don’t do all the summer leagues and just narrow events down to one league sport for the summer, you can still keep your child going in the other sports with summer camps. My daughter plays three sports and is also in an elite triple jump program for track. She does volleyball camps and does summer basketball league. Her primary focus in summer is track because that is her sport that she wants to focus on in college and also wants to use to go to the Olympics.

All of these sport things are subject to my daughter’s schedule and what events take priority. However, she is in full control of what she wants to do and when she is going to begin to specialize. Its only fair because she is the one that has to do the work.  She knows her body and how much it is capable of enduring.  And as long as its fun for her she will continue.

Your child should be given the opportunity to play as many sports as he/she can so that they will have more chances to be really great at the sport of their choosing rather than the sport of the coach’s demand or the parent’s desire. Many times a child will incorrectly infer that they are not good enough for another sport if you want them to specialize too soon.

After all, the child is the controlling partner in this investment. They put in the work, they go out and produce and they deal with the consequences of their actions on the field or court. Our job as parents is to guide the child to the best possible scenario for them, and teach them how to navigate their lives in such a way that the each decision made is driven by the motivation of giving them the most successful outcome for the work that they put in.

Being Courted

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Being courted is an old-fashioned term used many years ago to mean dating with intent. Now what exactly is “dating with intent”? Well in order to define courting vs dating 2014, one must define dating as it stands in today’s society. Today dating does not mean the traditional meet for a movie or food with a person with whom you have a growing infatuation of affinity. No, dating today is what we used to term “I like you and you like me so we ‘go’ together.”

Courting, on the other hand, means dating with the intent to marry. Back in the day, a young man did not just show up, grab the girl, and take her away on a date. No indeed not. If you were considering yourself courting, you had intent to do right by the young lady. You showed up at the home, addressed the parents and made that intention known. The Father and Mother blessed the intention maybe, and made it clear that if you did not make good on your intent, it would not go well for you.

In the arena of recruiting there is a similar type of courting going on. The school looks at your child’s information, video, or sees them at a camp or performance and decides if they are a good fit for their program. Then they decide how much “courting” they are willing to do.

My daughter, Arielle, got a letter of interest yesterday from a college for track & field. Her Snapchat picture and the emoticons pretty much tell the story. She has just gotten a taste of what it feels like to be courted. She is now enamored with this school and is beginning to realize that this is not a drill. She will soon be in a position to have to make some hard decisions on how she wants her future to play out.

Because she is just a sophomore, there are some rules and regulations that college coaches must adhere to in the recruiting game. However, there are some things that they can say in the context of a “general” information letter that will clue you in on how much courting they want to do with your child.

Now it is up to you to determine if the level of courtship is to be reciprocated. You know what I mean…you remember the love letter that goes like this:

I like you a lot. Do you like me? Check the box Yes ☐ or No ☐

Once you get a letter courting your child, and you understand the level of the courtship, how do you determine which box to check? Or are you like Arielle was, infatuated and ready to sign on the dotted line?

I must admit that I was very excited as well to see the Snapchat post. My heart did kind of skip a beat and I was instantly infatuated. It feels good! You see that your child’s hard work is being recognized and that doors are beginning to open ever so slightly.

It is important that we as parents make sure we know what our children want in a school as well as what we want FROM the school in order to determine if they are a viable candidate for consideration. Information on the school is fine, but if we don’t know what we want from the school how do you know if the school meets the standard?

Many times, we as parents 1.   do not think about college until it is breathing down our necks. Then there are other parents who have instilled the college mindset into our kids but 2. have not embraced the dream of our kids in college for ourselves. And some still 3.  have a fear of the cost of college and because of that, they do not speak about it to their children for fear that they will be unable to pay for it. Others, still 4.  may not have had the traditional college experience and therefore they don’t push it for their children.

My college scenario is a combination of #1 and #3. I lived with my Aunt and Uncle and my Dad lived in Philadelphia. As long as I remembered I had talked about going to college. My route was going to be through academics not sports. I was smart, and got chosen to go to Engineering summer Camp two years in a row and won the Governor’s Energy Essay Contest for the 10th grade Division etc. However, no one seriously looked into the cost of college or really even considered it much. This was in the days before the internet, so everything you got from schools came via snail mail. I had schools sending me letters like crazy trying to get me to apply to their school. Don’t be fooled just because the NCAA offers a sliding scale for qualification, the better your ACT/SAT test scores the more opportunities open up for you academically.

I eventually applied and got into both of the top universities in South Carolina, University of South Carolina and Clemson University. I did everything required to make sure that my enrollment was assured and I prepared to go to college. About two weeks after high school graduation, my aunt comes to me and states that no one has considered how much it was going to cost to go to USC and so I will have to take the small scholarship offered by Francis Marion College and go there and stay at home with them instead.   Needless to say it was like a kick in the gut! Did they think college was free? Did they not know that I had wanted to go to college? I cried for 3 days straight, I wouldn’t eat, I wouldn’t leave my room. I was on a hunger strike! I was basically telling them that either I go to the college of my choice or die in that room. Yes the struggle was real and the tantrum was in full effect! Eventually, my Dad worked out the finances and along with a couple of student loans to supplement the shortfall, all I can say is Go ‘Cocks! Yes I graduated from the University of South Carolina.

The moral of the story is: Don’t make your kids pay for your lack of understanding. Do your homework, know your limitations and be prepared to help your child get the educational experience of a lifetime.