Get moving with it, or get left behind
“It’s too early. We’re going to wait.” “Our son is only a freshman, so we’ll see what happens.” “Our coach says that she is taking care of all that for us.” “We have a friend in the athletic department at her favorite college who says that he’ll put in a good word for her.” Blah, blah, blah. Those are the pat answers we as NSR scouts often hear from parents that are actually outside of the recruiting loop, but yet convinced they know better then we do. Wrong. Very wrong.
Recruiting is a living, breathing entity that never stops its forward momentum. While parents are at work, recruiting is happening. While prospects are sitting in class, recruiting is going on. When they congregate together at practices, games and tournaments, college coaches are evaluating talent. Recruiting is constantly in motion. And you are either available to coaches for evaluation or you are not. It’s really that simple. If your profile is not readily accessible by coaches, you can bet that fancy Ford Fusion that another prospect is.
Let’s start with the premise that a company, National Scouting Report, that has been in the high school scouting and college recruiting business for 32 years has expertise that you don’t. With that absolute in mind, pay attention. Today, the recruiting process begins for prospects in the eighth grade. What, you say? Yes, that’s right, the eighth grade. College coaches are beginning their recognition phase, the key holder to any prospect’s recruiting process, when athletes are in or just coming out of what could be called their pre-freshman year.
The most astute parents and prospects are setting out a plan during the eighth grade year which takes them from start to finish, which is securing a college, athletic scholarship offer. These forward thinking families are learning about NCAA rules, pondering which club or travel team they will play for, looking at local and regional college Web sites, and making what is arguably their most critical decision — determining where their very best promotional option lies.
Understanding and accepting that recruiting is a tough, long-term competition is the first light bulb which must be turned on by families that want and need their child to earn a college athletic scholarship. Anything short of that type of deliberate effort puts prospects in a precarious and dangerous position. Dangerous? Yes. For families that delay in their preparations, they are putting their athlete in danger of not being considered for an offer because as they sit and wait, other prospects are being evaluated in earnest by college coaches.
So, how then does a family choose which course to take? Here are some thoughts and suggestions to seriously discuss:
- Will my coach be able to help? Most likely not. Both high school and club or travel coaches have limited access to college coaches. They may know a handful of coaches, but that is not enough, frankly. We rarely, and to be clearer, almost never, hear a college coach say these words, “If it hadn’t been for his coach, I would have never known about that kid.” Your coaches are not paid to promote your child to colleges. They do not have the means to conduct an effective promo campaign. And, if they do, they are faced with the obligation to follow suit for all their athletes interested in playing at the next level. So, leaving it up to a coach is not as reasonable, or smart, as it might sound. Time is also a stumbling block. Your coaches have jobs, families of their own and obligations which take precedent over your primary needs. There simply is not enough time for them to do it all. If you want to have your athlete promoted, select someone that represents a company that specializes in athlete promotions full time.
- Will my travel team get me exposure? Yes, but no. If the team participates in high-profile events, your chances are better than if you don’t. But here’s the rub: college coaches do not go to events to discover talent. They arrive already knowing which athletes they are going to scout. All the other athletes are white noise in the background to them. A prospect entering a club or travel season should have one main concern which is this: How do I get on those coaches’ lists? We can count on both hands the number of club or travel teams that do a pre-season promo of their athletes and your probably is not one of them. And those which do send out a brochure that lists all their players, not just you, are painfully ineffective because the follow-up is woefully lacking. So, getting lost in the shuffle of Club/Travel World is normal. If coaches don’t know your athlete exists, they would have to happen to stop at your game and watch for a few minutes and hopefully in that small window of time your child will make the play of a lifetime to catch their attention to the point of them ignoring other players they came to scout and shift their attention to your athlete. Now, those are odds so long that it’s incomprehensible such a scenario would occur. Because a viable scouting service is at the wheel day after day promoting your child, coaches have a realistic chance to notice and evaluate your child.
- Will a good word from a friend who knows the coach make a difference? In short, no. It may result in you getting a recruiting letter, but actually being recruited? Nah, not happening. College coaches frequently do these people similar favors. They have to as a courtesy. It would be rude not to. But will it realistically influence a coach? Unlikely. But, what if a respected, on-the-ground scout called that same coach and offered detailed info, athletic and academic, on your child to a college coach. Now that would work for both the coach and the athlete.
Our best advice? Do your due diligence ASAP. Don’t wait another day. There is no advantage to waiting regardless of what anyone says. Trust us on this.
While you are in the start-up process, look at all the promotional options available to you. There are free sites, but they are too much trouble for coaches to sift through. There are far too many unqualified athletes self-posting info on these sites for coaches to take seriously. There are other, fee-paid recruiting sites, too. But in most cases you will find that they are telemarketers, not legitimate scouting organizations and their promos are limited in scope for what you really need to connect with college coaches. And, where’s your scout? Oh, he or she is sitting in a cubicle somewhere. If that works for you, have at it, but most people want a real scout working with them, not a person playing like a scout.
What you really need is a comprehensive, promotional campaign which will make your child’s profile accessible to every coach in your sport, not just a few, while allowing your family to target specific schools with snail mail (it really is effective) and E-mail. And, you need a scout that can personally vouch for you because he or she knows your athlete, has seen him or her play and can speak firsthand to college coaches about his or her personality, character and abilities.
National Scouting Report does all these things and we do them better than anyone in the world. That is a fact you can bank on.
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