Sports recruiting: more than meets the eye
Students need to be pro-active in getting recruited for many sports
Over 460,000 student-athletes will participate in the various 24 sports that the NCAA has to offer in 2019. Each athlete has a unique path on their recruiting journey and variables such as gender, level of play, the area you are from and sport, make the process unique. At Minnehaha Academy, there are several students that have the opportunity to play college athletics in the future, and not all of them have the same recruiting platform. For some, it’s extremely difficult to get their name out to college coaches, and for others not so much. So it begs the question, “How does the recruiting process work?”
It’s widely known that men’s football and men’s basketball are the “high profile” and major money-generating sports at Division 1 universities. Top-level recruits that participate in these sports and go on to play at Division 1 universities typically don’t have to take as much initiative in the recruiting process. Thanks to recruiting sites such as ESPN, 247 Sports and Rivals, these high-level recruits get their game film analyzed and ranked. The recruiting sites that evaluate these players give the athletes a platform to get their name out to college coaches without having to do too much work.
For other sports, the recruiting process can be much more difficult. Sports such as softball, baseball, women’s basketball and swimming don’t have the same recruiting advantages as men’s basketball and football. These sports are significantly underfunded in comparison and don’t have the same recruiting platform.
Baseball and softball are both unique in the fact that they’re dominated by warm weather states. In Minnesota, baseball and softball can only be played about 6 months out of the year and warm weather states can play year-round. This puts athletes that live in midwestern states at a significant disadvantage and forces them to travel to warm weather during the winter in order to play year-round. Boston University softball commit Kate Pryor said, “It’s hard to get recruited in softball, especially being from Minnesota.”
“Just because the talent pool here is not great and if you actually want to get interest from college coaches you have to go outside of the state. So, I’ve been playing for a team out of North Carolina for the last few years and I’ve been going to camps and showcases for a while now so I can get my name out to college coaches,” said Pryor.
It’s important to play in front of as many coaches as possible and the easiest way to do that is to go to showcase camps and play in tournaments where you know coaches will be there. For baseball, it’s important to attend specific prospect camps like Prep Baseball Report (PBR). PBR is an independent recruiting service that hosts camps for high school baseball prospects that have aspirations to play college baseball. This database is similar to the men’s basketball and football recruiting websites in the sense that it provides the athlete’s stats to college coaches through an online database.
“PBR is the best platform to get your name out to college coaches and is probably the most important event to attend if you want to play baseball in college. They help with getting your name out to college coaches and it’s one of those events that is mandatory to go to,” said senior baseball player, Griffin Leiner.
For time trial sports like swimming the recruiting process is more tailor-made to your specific events. Because swimming is divided and scored by different events, schools are looking to recruit swimmers with specific skills that add to their team’s overall ability to score the most points. So, it’s important to become great at your event. Swimming is mainly an individual event so it’s important to attend skill camps to get in front of coaches and to reach out and contact coaches so you can get on their recruiting radar.
Swarthmore College commit Andrew Karpenko said, “To swim in college, I would say the main thing you need is time management.”
“Balancing academic life and swimming can be really hard, just like with any competitive sport, so staying on top of schoolwork in addition to going to practice every day is really important to get to the next level. It’s good practice for college itself too, where both swimming and the academic load will be even more intense,” said Karpenko.
Academic excellence is key in recruiting for all sports. Being a good student makes you more marketable and useful for colleges as they not only look for good athletes but also for dependable students. Keeping your grades up and taking the ACT/SAT early and often is recommended.
After consulting with many Minnehaha athletes it’s become apparent that there’s a checklist of things that can help you out with the recruiting process.
First, it’s important to know where you stand talent-wise and to honestly assess yourself as an athlete and student. If you know you’re a division 3 prospect it makes no sense to waste your time chasing after division 1 offers because it’s unrealistic and a waste of time, money and effort.
Second, it’s important to go to camps that you know will be effective. Some camps are designed to make money and others are actually used by coaches to evaluate prospective student-athletes. Make sure you use your best judgment before spending money on camps.
Third, contact the coaches, express your interest in their university and let them know where they can see you play. More often than not a coach will not offer you a scholarship unless they see you play in person.
Lastly, make sure you visit the school and make sure it’s the right fit before making a decision. Deciding what school you want to play at for the next four years is much bigger than just sports. It’s important to have a connection with the school academically and socially. Choosing a college is a big decision for everybody and making sure you’re attending an institution that you think is a good fit is crucial. The process can be difficult and tiring but it’s an important decision that has lasting impacts on your future and is something you want to make sure you get right.