Jordan Bickett

NSR volleyball prospect Jordan Bickett demonstrates why we as fans love to see fall athletics come around once again.

Across America high school athletes have been sweating their hearts out.  For weeks now, they have been humping it in pre-season conditioning workouts, drills, practices and scrimmages in anticipation of what historically is the most exciting time for prep athletics – fall sports.  With last year’s seniors graduated, as fans our spirits are renewed by the upcoming group.  We want to see if they have improved, gotten bigger, faster, quicker and stronger.  The two-month layoff from school-to-school competition, finally ended, brings a fresh perspective and enthusiasm not just to the schools, athletes and parents, but to local team followers itching to pay their five bucks to see what coaches have done with this promising crop. But, why does this time of year hold such a special place in our hearts?

Maybe part of it is the subtle changes we wish for in outdoor temperatures from the dog days to cooler breezes, from short sleeves to sweatshirts.  Who doesn’t love donning a sweater before heading  out to a Friday night high school football game?  We may not be there yet, but if hoping helps, leaves will start turning yellow and red and falling to the ground sooner than later.

Maybe it’s that we simply miss seeing our kids playing with other kids in our communities.  You know, the ones they grew up with, instead of their being dragged around the countryside wrapped up in the trappings of club or travel sports where every at-bat, serve, basket or great play holds more significance than it probably should.  In the fall, it’s more of a game than a career choice and everybody from town shop owners to school cafeteria workers sit side-by-side cheering on their young heroes.

Maybe we see a new school year as a nostalgic reflection of ourselves and what we experienced during those heady high school days.  We smile as the little ones run around with boundless energy.  First-year high schoolers gather at the end of the bleachers avoiding their parents yet wondering where they fit in.  Former athletes gather in pockets spouting off about how this year’s team will perform and how much they miss the game.  The athletes themselves bound out of the locker room sneaking a glance up in the stands to see their parents standing, clapping and glowing with pride.  And the coaches nervously pace back and forth because no amount of practicing can really predict how their team will actually perform until it really matters.

When we look around us and see that we aren’t alone in our joy and full-throttled exuberance, we finally get it, don’t we?  These kids in front of us, the athletes in uniform, have worked their butts off just to make the team, much less play every minute, and we appreciate what they have sacrificed to be there.  We are excited for them and this is our way of honoring them for reaching a milestone in their lives.   They’ve made it and we love and admire them for it.  Few things could mean more.  It’s a time-honored cultural thing.  And the fall once again gives us hope for another generation.

 
Hayley Hunter is an NSR prospect that exudes a positive attitude and work ethic.  She is just the type college coaches have come to expect from NSR-enrolled high school student-athletes.

Hayley Hunter is an NSR prospect that exudes a positive attitude and work ethic. She is just the type college coaches have come to expect from NSR-enrolled high school student-athletes.

If there is a common thread which runs through the minds and hearts of high school prospects that NSR represent, it has to be the athletes’ immeasurable optimism.  Their deep-seeded belief that they will succeed in their efforts to secure a college athletic scholarship offer is the engine which drives NSR scouts to help these deserving young athletes achieve their dreams.

At NSR, we look for prospects willing to sacrifice and work harder than anyone else for this goal.  It is not something mystic in nature.  We recognize it immediately in athletes’ affirmative approach to their sport, their coaches and teammates.  It’s in their eyes, body language, intensity and competitive drive.  They single themselves out from the crowd through hard work, selflessness and an uncommon dedication to learning and improving on every detail and aspect of their position and as an integral part of the team.  These athletes are special and deserve to be recognized, supported and well-served.  That’s what we do at NSR.  That’s what makes us different.  We love these kids and we admire their burning desire to succeed.  It’s really at the heart of what drives us to push open doors of opportunity which would not otherwise be accessible to them.

Is it obvious, yet?  We are very selective in the athletes we choose to work with because during the scouting and recruiting process we know that this shared optimism fuels championships at the collegiate level.  It is impossible for college coaches to construct successful teams consisting of pessimists with substandard work ethics.  No coach goes in search of undesirables.  They want winners and we provide them.

That’s why so many college coaches are attracted to the athletes NSR enrolls.  Coaches know that each NSR student-athlete has passed a rigorous, pre-qualification litmus test.  They trust that NSR scouts will continue a proud, 33-year reputation for only presenting them with athletes they will want to recruit as part of their programs.  And that is precisely what we do every day.

 

 
If you really want to play college sports, select a service that has real scouts that can actually tell coaches about you, not cubicle counselors that never see you play and know nothing about you as a person or athlete.

If you really want to play college sports, select a service that has real scouts that can actually tell coaches about you, not cubicle counselors that never see you play and know nothing about you as a person or athlete.

Ten years ago, college coaches were just getting computers installed in their offices.  Emails were a novelty.  Digitized videos were a faraway thought.  Personal Web sites were emerging technology.  Smart phones and tablets?  Non-existent.  But that was then, as they say.

Today coaches can link to prospects and their information more readily than ever.  Athletes’ profiles seem to be everywhere online.  As a result, coaches are being overrun by incoming data and it’s not all good, reliable stuff.  Not by a long shot.

Sifting through it all has become a genuine pain for coaches and as a result many prospects are still being overlooked as coaches have become numb to the digital onslaught.  What yesterday were thought to be recruiting advantages both on the coaches’ and prospects’ ends are now burdensome, confusing and terribly unmanageable.

So, what’s a high school prospect to do?  Here are some solid suggestions:

  1. Avoid free recruiting sites:  These are one way streets leading to nowhere.  Coaches do not go to these sites because it is too difficult to find legit, qualified athletes.
  2. Avoid open-enrollment companies:  If you are paying to have your profile and video on a scouting service site without having been scouted in person or had you video evaluated by a trained college scout, you are throwing good money after bad.  Case in point:  college football coaches at the National Football Coaches Association Convention in Nashville this past February, college coaches told us that they had stopped by our competitor’s booth to request being taken off their email list because a large majority of the athletes the coaches were getting info on were not qualified or screened for ability and it was a waste of their time to get the info, much less taking up valuable time perusing the info.  (We call these companies Cubicle Counselors.)
  3. Select a scouting service that actually scouts you:  If you want your profile info to be opened by a college coach, select a service that really scouts and that college coaches appreciate and respect.

If you are an aspiring college prospect with the skills, grades, desire and character to be a college athlete, you deserve to be promoted to coaches in the most effective way possible.  Choose wisely.  Do your homework.  Find an organization that can put you in front of college coaches without being surrounded by tons of mediocre talent.  That is the way to set yourself apart.

 
Prep athletes today must start early to build the street rep of being a dependable, solid person if they want coaches to recruit them.

Prep athletes today must start early to build the street rep of being a dependable, solid person if they want coaches to recruit them.

Two outside forces are major contributors to today’s high school athletes having to demonstrate a high level of maturity to college coaches.  The spate of troublesome behavior by college athletes having run afoul of the law and the proliferation of technology in recruiting are putting the pressure on young aspiring college athletes to be more attuned to their character and comportment.

When was the last week, if not day, that we’ve not been subjected to an expose on a college athlete that has tripped and fallen into the rubble of other ill-fated athletes unable to help themselves?  This has led college coaches to more carefully scrutinize the actions and attitudes of the prospects they target to recruit.  What’s on the line is more than wins and losses, but the coaches’ jobs as well.  And, in the world of college sports, the prime objective of any coach has sadly devolved to keeping his or her job.

There was a time when athletes’ antics had little or no impact on a coach’s employment status.  No longer.  Today, the character and actions of athletes are directly linked to their coach and that coach’s ability, or inability, to properly control their program.  Justifiable or not, coaches are coming and going faster than ever before in the history of college athletics.  And the acceleration of this revolving movement can be traced to who coaches recruit and how they manage those recruits once they arrive on campus.  Even the off-campus conduct or athletes is now inextricably tied to their coaches.

These are lessons which high school, not to mention middle school, athletes must heed and respond to with careful calculation regarding their own activities, the friends they cling to, and the trouble they purposefully avoid.  Without this type of planning, a promising athlete can be left at the wayside, quickly to be forgotten and passed on.

In this game, as it is played in modern recruiting, adults are on the hot seat.  It is they who must tend to the fire and make certain that their athlete does not stray far, if at all.  But, isn’t that the way human behavior has always shaken out – parents lead and their children follow; parents discipline and their children learn;  parents provide high expectations and children strive to satisfy.

 
Athletes that exude a positive attitude during competition and socially are very attractive to college coaches.

Athletes that exude a positive attitude during competition and socially are very attractive to college coaches.

Flippin’ a bat.  Flippin’ a cap.  Flippin’ a towel.  You name it and flippin’ gets a high school athlete into hot water with college coaches.

We scout alongside college coaches every day at tournaments, matches, meets, showcases, combines and camps.  And the conversation often abruptly turns to an athlete that does something inane like flippin’ a piece of equipment, a uniform item or a nasty look, any of which brings the observing coach to an immediate halt.  “Now,” said one coach to me during a basketball tournament in Greensboro, NC, a few years back, when a player stared down a referee following a questionable call, “that was stupid.  That one act of defiance, temper tantrum or whatever you want to call it, may have cost that athlete a scholarship offer from one or more of the coaches here.  How does that make any sense at all?  But, I really don’t blame the kid.  Know who I blame?  The parents and coaches.  They let have let it happen over and again without cracking down on the kid.  He thinks it’s acceptable because he’s never had to suffer the most dire of all consequences – sitting on the bench as punishment.  When a kid loses playing time, he or she gets the point, and so hopefully do the parents.  It’s sad that we see so much of it.  It should never get to this point.  High school athletes need to learn early on that being a jerk does not work and that there is a price to pay for choosing to be one.”

Athletes gain reputations not just for their skills but for their attitudes.  A prospect with a good demeanor consistently gets more offers than the one who can’t control his emotions.  A display of temper is trouble waiting to happen down the road and coaches know that it could happen during practice, a contest or on campus in social situations.  All one has to do is read the daily sports new to discover yet another instance of an athlete’s encounters which have led to legal entanglements.

When coaches watch athletes, they are examining more than their athletic talents.  They are also scrutinizing how that athlete deals with unsettling scenarios.  The athletes that have enough self-control to shake it off and move on are the ones coaches will recruit.  Coaches can project this behavior in the college athletic, academic and social settings.  And predicting how an athlete will behave on and off the field or court is a big part of the scholarship-offering process.

 

 
Staying hydrated Is more than keeping as water bottle close by.  It is a serious issue which deserves serious attention and planning.

Staying hydrated Is more than keeping as water bottle close by. It is a serious issue which deserves serious attention and planning.

We’re in the middle of summer now and our biggest concern for the athletes we work with and advise is dehydration.  Because the athletes we represent to college coaches have to be in peak condition at club and travel events as well as during workouts, combines, showcases and camps, we constantly harp on the need for them to keep liquids in and flowing through their bodies.  It is a topic which is too often overlooked by athletes, parents and coaches.

We rarely scout a summer event where some athletes don’t succumb to the heat.  And what is most disturbing about this trend is that dehydration can be avoided with some simple steps which include taking in fluids prior to, during and following any physical exertion.  Compounding the potential onset of dehydration is the increased heat and temperatures athletes must contend with from inadequately ventilated gyms, insufficient water sources or a lack of preparation and ongoing attention to hydration.  Please make no mistake, this is a critical issue which should be at the top of every high school athlete’s to-do list.

All athletes should heed this warning:  you can do serious harm to yourself unless you take careful and certain steps to avoid falling victim to dehydration.  Go to this link to find out more about dehydration, its causes and what you can do to keep yourself, or  your loved ones, safe from its debilitating effects.

 
As a coach, I have to be smart about how I spend my office time and NSR gives me the edge like nobody else can.

As a coach, I have to be smart about how I spend my office time and NSR gives me the edge like nobody else can.

Okay, here’s the scene.  Let’s say for a moment that I am a college coach.  Three packages, or emails, say, arrive on my desk.  I will open them in order, but which will be first, second and then last, and why in that order?

Time?  It’s a precious commodity and I don’t have much of it.  So, identifying quickly who sent them is important.   The time I spend in the office has to be productive just like practices and recruiting trips.  The dress code may be casual in the athletic department, but my focus is anything but casual.  Office time is work time, plain and simple.  Efficiency is everything.

Back to the stuff that’s arrived.  One is obviously from a parent.  The name is unfamiliar.  That one goes on the pile in the corner if it’s a package and in the file called Other Prospects.  My assistant will get to it when time permits, but she’s busy, too, so when its contents are known is, well, unknown.  She’ll either get to it or she won’t.  I’ve told her that those are low priority.  Why?  Parents are not reliable and the ordeal we have to go through to get what we need is not worth the hassle.  It’s usually disorganized and the important stuff is hard to get at which, again, wastes too much of our time.  Got it?  This will get opened last, if at all.  Sorry, folks, but that’s life.

The second one is from a recruiting service.  But when I look at the sender, I know that it’s another waste of my time.  The kids in this group will not have been seen or scouted in person.  This company is like a puppy mill – they just keep pumping out the kids without any real sense of quality.  No in-person scouting.  No personal interaction.  Just call ‘em and sign ‘em.  Don’t get me wrong, they do a great job of trying to get me to open their stuff, but I’ve been bitten too many times by these guys.  No more.   If I get hard up for recruits, I might go down this road, but it’s so tough to find qualified athletes that we know going in that it’s a chore.

The third one?  Now, this one I’ll open.  This is also from a scouting company, but the difference?  These guys actually scout their kids.  They do what I do.   They identify good athletes, check them out for grades, stats, all that, then they go see them play.  They study their athletes, meet them, meet their parents, interview them, get to know them and when they know that a prospect is a real, college prospect, they work with them.  That means that when I get a package or email from this company, I open it.  No hesitation.

This company saves me and my staff time and a lot of front-end work.  They’re almost like my advance scout team.  They help me lock onto legit prospects.  And when their info comes to me, it’s all right there in the format that I want and need to make a quick call on moving ahead or not.  And there’s video which is the final step that I have to take before deciding to reach out to a prospect.

Put yourself in my shoes, would you?  What would you do?  Look, people can talk and talk and talk about how things work, but I’m here to tell you that when it comes to recruiting, for me at least, it’s all about time, efficiency and reliability.  When a coach lines finds those three things, life is good.

 
Waiting on college coaches to find you is not an option in today's recruiting environment.

Waiting on college coaches to find you is not an option in today’s recruiting environment.

Here’s a tip worth paying close attention to:  If you are a high school prospect, at any grade, get in the recruiting process now.  Waiting has no advantages.  None.  Nada.  Zilch.  Got it?

Put it this way – what’s the harm in jumping in early?

So, what is it we know that you don’t know?  Yes, we are a scouting service, but after 33 years of helping high school athletes get recruited and college coaches at every level of competition identify prospects, we should know a thing or two, right?  No doubt.  But, for grins, let’s put that scouting service thing aside.  Agreed?  Let’s talk facts.

It’s a fact that:

  • College coaches start evaluating talent in the seventh and eighth grades.
  • Only about one in fifteen high school athletes go on to play at the college level.
  • Earning post-season honors does not get you recruited.
  • Playing club or travel sports does not guarantee college coaches will find you and evaluate you.
  • High school and club or travel coaches are limited in their reach to college coaches.
  • It is not a certainty that a family connection to a college coach, administrator, employee, alumnus or booster will earn you a scholarship offer.
  • Because you are the best player on your team that a college coach will recruit you.
  • The poorer your grades the less attention you will receive from college coaches, even if they know about you.
  • The better your grades the more attention you will receive from college coaches, if they know about you.

So, what can you do?  Go to www.nsr-inc.com.  Click on Locations.  Find the NSR scout nearest to you and find out.  He or she can, and will, help you.

 

 
Kori Benson

Kori Benson

Following a stellar high school career at Oak Grove High School in Alabama, Kori Benson chose to attend Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, AL.  She declined several offers from NCAA and NAIA schools because Kori wanted to show high level DI programs that she had what it takes to play with the best in the country.  And, by all accounts, she made the right decision.

Playing third base and catching for the 2013 Lions, Kori made an impact from the start both offensively and defensively.  On her way to setting a WSCC single season home run record with 23 round-trippers, Kori was a major contributor in the team’s post season run to winning the NJCAA Division I national crown held in St. George, UT, outlasting Salt Lake, 7-3, in the championship rubber game.  In that game, Kori had two hits, one being a home run in the second inning, and a game-high four runs batted in.

During the previously unranked team’s incredible title chase, Kori was named the ACC regional tournament MVP, the NJCAA All-Tournament team and the national tournament’s defensive MVP.  The NFCA also chose her to be a member of their highly selective All-America team.

We are very proud to represent Kori to college coaches across America and following what is arguably the most impressive year of any Wallace State freshman ever, it’s likely that her dream of playing at the penultimate level of college softball will come true.

 

 
Situations come fast and furiously at athletes.  Making the right decisions really matters.

Situations come fast and furiously at athletes. Making the right decisions really matters.

As a high school athlete wanting to play sports at the college level, the decisions you make this summer could mean rising or falling on college recruiting depth charts.  Moreover, those same decisions could instantly cause your house of cards to crumble.  Make good calls in tough situations and you have a shot to climb and survive.  Make bad ones, though, and all that potential and promise can easily disappear before your own eyes like a beautiful car would in a David Copperfield magic trick.  Which will it be for you?

It’s sad, actually, because all the good decisions you make probably will never be noticed.  They will not be flashed on the 11:00 news or captured in a headline on the local newspaper or community Web site.  Your pals are unlikely to line up and pat you on the back or call with congratulations.  College coaches, too, will be unaware that you’ve done something really good for you and your future.  But that anonymity comes with the territory.  In the end, and more importantly, all the good moves you choose will eventually stack high and be noticed as a true testament to your good character.

Bad decisions, though?  Different story.  When you’re asked to go for a ride with friends drinking alcohol or taking drugs or planning to get into some innocent trouble, there will be a brief moment when you will literally hold your future in your own hands.  You’ll know when that moment comes, too, because you are no dummy, not stupid, nor unaware of the downside consequences.  Regardless of how well guarded your reputation has been up to that singular point in time, it could all tumble down in a pile of regret and life-changing disappointment, that is, if you agree to get in that car and drive off into uncertainty.

Stupidity is not an excuse for making bad decisions.  Think you won’t get caught?  Think again.  You’ve seen other kids just like you at your school or in your neighborhood that have suffered from bad choices.  You can call them ignorant or unlucky, but had they not elected to go down that road in the first place they could have dodged the situation altogether.  Yet, they didn’t.  The fun, the risk, seemed worth it.  And their lives will forever be tainted by what happened to them as a result.

Be smart this summer.  Do what’s right and safe for your future and your health.  During that moment when you are faced with the decision, Do I or don’t I, somehow, some way imagine if things go awfully sour and all you’ve worked so hard for is lost forever in the blink of an eye.  And then honestly ask yourself, Is it really worth it?