Georgi Salant, two-time NCAA All-America, recently earned the DIII individual crown.

Georgi Salant, two-time NCAA All-America, recently earned the DIII individual crown.

Seven years ago, when Georgiana Salant became an NSR prospect in Southern California, her expectations were relatively simple – to play college golf.  Today, Georgi not only can say that she accomplished that early goal, but that she has also achieved an objective which was incomprehensible when she was a high school freshman.  Today, Georgi is a two-time First Team All-America and individual NCAA national champion for the Williams College Ephs in Willamston, Mass.

Playing the grueling course at the Mission Inn and Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla, Georgi fought through a rough stretch in Round One when she had five bogies in six holes to fire a steady 76 in the final 18 holes to win the individual DIII crown by two strokes.  But if being Medalist at the national tournament was something Georgi had only dreamed about, her head coach, Erika DeSanty, had given it much more thought.

“I just told Georgi that I have been picturing this for four years,” DeSanty said. “I’ve imagined walking down the final fairway with her having a chance to win the national championship. I don’t even have the words to describe how proud this makes me. She’s done so much for this program. It’s awesome.  It was four days of masterful course management.  She played smart and did exactly what she needed to do to score. Overall, she showed a lot of maturity and I have never seen her strike the ball so well and confidently.”

The Williams team also excelled by placing third overall in the team competition, a new benchmark for the program.

In an interview with Richard Lord of the Berkshire Eagle, Georgi added, “I’m not going to lie, I’ve thought about it once or twice, and to have it come true is pretty amazing.  Actually, I was pretty calm.  I tried to stay process-oriented and the fact I was also playing for the team and not just for myself helped me stay focused and not think about the end result.”

Moreover, Geori’s individual win and the team’s third place trophy helped the Ephs snag the 2014 NCAA DIII Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup, giving Williams back-to-back titles and 17 overall Cups of the 19 awarded in NCAA Division III athletic competition.

And for an encore?  Georgi is off to Boulder, Colo., where she will be entering graduate school at the University of Colorado in pursuit of her next goal – a master’s degree in chemistry.  No one in NSR Nation doubts that Georgi will make that dream come true, too.

 

 
alcohol-and-athletes

Alcohol and athletes

Over the weekend, an interesting tweet came across my Twitter account.  The first thing that caught my attention was that it was a re-tweet from Missy Tiber.  Coach Tiber was the head women’s basketball coach at Belmont Abbey College near Charlotte, N.C., when I was an NSR scout.  I visited the Belmont Abbey campus numerous times and always stopped by Missy’s office to say hello and to talk about her team and her recruiting needs.   We would often run into each other at regional girls basketball showcases and tournaments.  Over time we developed a nice relationship.  She went on to become the head women’s coach at Southern Illinois University and today is the head women’s hoops coach at the University of Northern Alabama.  So, when I saw her name attached to a tweet, I was naturally curious to read what she thought significant enough to pass along to others.  Here was that tweet: “A weekend of hard drinking erases a week of hard training. Alcohol=poison for athletes, trashes the body, slows & weakens you in every way.”

That short statement became the inspiration for this blog entry.  As often is the case, once the corner of a page is turned, it is impossible for me to not turn it in full and see what the next page has to offer.  In this case, I immediately wanted to find out more facts about the effects of alcohol on athletic training, especially on high school athletes.  Off I went on an adventure into Cyber World to find what lay beneath the tweet.

As it turned out, however, I didn’t have to search far to find the perfect article, “Alcohol and Athletes.”  Published by the Office of Alcohol and Drug Education at Notre Dame University, this exceptional piece of information is backed by well-founded research and covers the topics How Alcohol Affects Muscle Development and Recovery and How Alcohol Affects Your Ability to Learn New Plays and Strategies.  Sidebar topics are wide-ranging and helpful in delving deeper into this important aspect of athletics. It even goes so far as to provide a list of NCAA banned drugs and the specific NCAA rules to which the use or abuse of alcohol and drugs apply.

Enjoy!

Getting an early start in the recruiting process makes all the difference in the world.

Getting an early start in the recruiting process makes all the difference in the world.

You’ve heard the numbers. On average only about 1 in 15 high school senior athletes go on to participate in college athletics. Many more want to, yes, but line up 100 seniors and you can count on a paltry 6.6 of them getting the opportunity to live their dream.

So what makes the difference? What happens to cause the 93.4% to fall short?

First, parents and prospects must realize that recruiting is a ruthless competition. It is, in fact, the most competitive environment a high school student-athlete will ever encounter. What happens on the court, field or diamond pales in comparison.

Second, high school, club and travel coaches are not typically savvy in regards to recruiting, so the advice they offer is often outdated or inaccurate.

Third, parents too often choose cheap, ineffective promotional vehicles to get their athletes’ profiles in the hands of college coaches.

Fourth, parents simply wait too late to begin the process.

The sad note to add is that each year there are thousands of deserving high school athletes whose dreams go unfulfilled. That does not need to happen. When athletes enter the recruiting process in the eighth, ninth or tenth grades, their chances of grabbing the attention of multiple college coaches increases exponentially over juniors and seniors. The driving forces are relationship building and broad exposure. Neither of these can happen by posting info on free Internet sites or enlisting fly-by-night recruiting services.

Think back, please, to the odds we cited at the start of this article. To beat those kinds of odds, parents and prospects have to be proactive once the athlete makes it clear that he or she wants to play collegiately. That is when the competition for a scholarship starts and every day of procrastination gives the advantage to another prospect that takes the initiative to begin right away instead of waiting.

 
kurt-moore-soccer-goalkeeper

Goalkeeper, Kurt Moore

Kurt Moore is a 2016 Goal Keeper from Woodland-Bartow High School in Cartersville, Georgia where he made the All-County Team as a freshman. Kurt plays club soccer with U16 Classic I Southern Soccer Academy 98 Elite. During fall 2013, Kurt tried out for – and made – the Olympic Development Program. And in April 2014, he found out that he has advanced to regionals, which places him one step closer to his goal of making the Olympic Team.

Kurt is a 3.8 student and works extremely hard at both soccer and academics. Kurt’s older sister is a freshman on the soccer team at DI Charleston Southern University, but the Moore’s knew it wouldn’t be as easy for Kurt since recruiting is sometimes more competitive for boys than girls. So after researching several recruiting services and deciding that NSR would give them more bang for their buck, Kurt’s mother, Alison, reached out to NSR area scout, Mike Ewing. Since enrolling Kurt back in mid-November, he has received attention from several top college programs.

Click here to view Kurt’s Prospect Resume.

 
High school athletes and their parents should take on the responsibility of controlling their own future by exploring promotional options which get results.

High school athletes and their parents should take on the responsibility of controlling their own future by exploring promotional options which get proven results.

As college scouts, we interview a lot of high school prospects.  Whether a senior facing the final months of their prep careers or seventh graders about to enter the recruiting fray, one question consistently pops up:  Will my coach help me?  Good question.  We seldom see these coaches refusing to help athletes and their families, but they are severely limited in what they can do to help promote athletes to college coaches.

Most all coaches in the high school and club realm will assist in any way they can.  But going down that road with one athlete often means, and they know this, that they have to do the same for most, if not all, of their other athletes.  And that presents problems – three major issues coaches face about which families frequently overlook or are woefully uninformed.

First on the high school level, with the rare exception of private schools, coaches’ contracts do not include a provision requiring them to either make calls to college coaches on the behalf of their athletes or to widely promote their athletes to college programs through direct mailings.  In nearly every situation, a high school coach is hired and assigned to teach, coach, watch over their team and run the program within the standards set by their schools.  These responsibilities take up an inordinate amount of time.  In fact, in a study we conducted at NSR several years ago, a high school coach typically spends 70+ hours per week on his or her teaching and coaching duties.  In short, there is no time to promote their athletes.  Another key point: few high school coaches know more than a handful of college coaches.  Why?  College coaches no longer scout high school events, nor do they depend on prep-level coaches for info on prospects.  So, communications between high school and college coaches has all but dissipated over the past ten years.  Finally, getting the right info to coaches, that is, the info they need to quickly assess whether or not they want to explore an athlete’s qualifications is something most high school coaches generally have no idea of how to organize and compile.  Simply stated, it’s not what they do and they cannot reasonably be expected to be proficient at it.

it gives families a false sense of security which leads them to relax their own efforts to connect with colleges.  Consequently, as the days and months go on and their athlete does not get the attention from college coaches, it puts families in a race to catch up with other prospects.  In most cases. it’s a matter of too little too late.

That said, there are top-tier club organizations that do have a large percent of their athletes getting scholarship offers.  However, in truth, that has more to do with the organization’s reputation for selecting top talent than through their promotional activities.  College coaches have learned to gravitate to them without the benefit of pre-event promos, and the clubs in that category benefit from the exposure.

That, of course, leaves all the other athletes from lesser known organizations.  What are these athletes to do?  How can they get noticed, evaluated and recruited?  There is an answer – one which history shows year in and year out gets over 90 percent of engaged athletes recruited.  Consistent.  Proven.  Professional.  www.nsr-inc.com.

 
Planning how to better handle mistakes is the best option you have.

For high school athletes wanting to advance to college, it is critical for them to work with their parents on planning and then to prepare themselves for the rigors which come with playing college sports.

We hear it everywhere we go: “I want to play college sports.”  That’s a worthwhile goal to be sure, but high school athletes and their parents must come to the realization that saying it does not make it happen.  Competition for a college roster spot is more than local, regional or even national.  It is now international.  To land a scholarship offer, planning and preparation are essential, requiring near full-time focus and effort.

Gone is the day when prep athletes could rely on their reputation, a newspaper or online feature article or being selected to an All-Conference, All-Region or All-State team.  In today’s recruiting environment, those things and honors are all but given prerequisites for any viable college prospect.  Instead, getting recruited has become a detailed process which dictates club or travel participation coupled with an aggressive, wide-reaching, constant marketing campaign.

Planning is the first step.  Parents and prospects should take deliberate steps to enter and compete in what is rightly described as the recruiting war.  College coaches are inundated with info, but it is the info that has a realistic chance to reach them and their assistants that matters.  Heart-felt letters aren’t enough.  One-time mailings aren’t enough.  Knowing a single, program insider isn’t enough, either.  No, to make this dream come true a much deeper commitment to connecting with as many college coaches as possible is the answer.  Very few travel and club organizations have the wherewithal to make that happen.  And fewer high school coaches can connect the dots.  Moreover, parents that are Internet savvy are more likely to hurt their athlete’s chances than help them.

Instead, parents should explore other options that will more effectively and efficiently bridge the gap between their athlete and college coaches.  Those bridges are out there, but identifying them is another thing.  Some are little more than online page hosts that do little or no marketing to coaches.  An overwhelming majority of coaches do not recruit from these sites.  Other sites are mere telemarketing entities whose primary objective is to create a revenue stream.  Their Web sites are attractive, but they consistently fail to market athletes to schools they really need to reach.  That said, there are a select few scouting and recruiting companies that do the athletes justice by promoting them aggressive both online and via other targeted methods while providing them with personalized service through legitimate local scouts.  Anything less than that is a scam by any other name.

Preparation is the second step.  Once aligned with a reputable scouting/recruiting company, parents and prospects must prepare to snare any opportunities which come their way.  Do accomplish this, parents should be ready to make multiple college campus visits before the recruiting process formally starts.  Giving their athlete on-campus experiences and tours allows the athlete to cross off the things which fail to meet their wants and needs.  Online campus tours cannot provide this experience.  It has to be done in person and without the influence of a coaching staff, at least at first.  Seeing the campus, stepping into classrooms, eating in the dining hall, walking through the athletic facilities all create a feel for the environment which is invaluable to the athlete.  Visiting small, medium and large sized campuses, then, is an essential part of the preparation process.

On the athlete’s side, being in top condition year round is crucial.  Every college athlete will confess to the surprising amount of conditioning they are required to engage in during their college careers.  Early morning workouts, afternoon individual sessions, long practices and intense games are all integral parts of the college athletic experience.  The sooner a high school athlete prepares for the physical and mental demands of being part of a college team the sooner they will get what will be demanded of them and decide if it is all worth the work they will have to do.  Getting into a routine similar to the grueling college schedule is the very best way to prepare.  And it gives college coaches the opportunity to see an athlete’s commitment level, competitive drive and work ethic which are all traits which separate scholarship winners from those so often passed over and ignored.

Being a college student-athlete carries a lot of responsibilities.  Representing a college, its students and every alumnus that has ever received a degree from that institution is indeed a big deal.  But to get to that vaulted point, there is much work to be done.  If parents plan well and athletes prepare equally as well, it can become a reality.

 
Not every senior football player will sign on the first day of the NCAA signing period, or even during the first week because that's the way the recruiting process works.

Not every senior football player will sign on the first day of the NCAA signing period, or even during the first week, because that’s the way the recruiting process works.

February 5th, Wednesday, will be a wild one in college recruiting.  That’s the day most high profile football seniors will be inking their letters of intent with big time programs.  But remember, please, that the actual signing period goes all the way to April 1, so there will still be a lot of pens touching paper after all the flashes subside and ESPN has returned to their next big thing.

NCAA DI programs will be finished, for the most part by week’s end, but a majority of high school seniors will not sign until afterward.  That’s when lower level DI, DII, DIII, NAIA and JUCO programs will do their best to solidify their 2014-15 freshmen classes.  And lest we lose sight of the importance of all this, let’s for a moment redirect our focus on the fact that the futures and lives of far more athletes will be decided from February 13th through April 1 than during this one-week of frenzy.

There is a myth that college programs below the DI level wait to see which athletes didn’t get the high-DI offers they had hoped to receive.  That simple is untrue.  Every college football program in the country is busy year round recruiting the athletes they believe will provide them with stability and improvement.  To get their allotment of players, they are in touch two-, three-times that number of athletes.  They have cast a wide net over these youngsters knowing that some will commit and sign while other will not.  It’s a numbers game, start to finish.  And every program includes a large list of bubble athletes that are skilled enough to play at the next level.  Again, some will come, some will not.   But rest assured, when they learn of athletes on their list which have decided to go elsewhere, they move on to the next one.  There is no time to mope.  They have to move and move quickly to secure their optimal signing class.

That process takes time.  Connecting with all their white-board athletes is their first priority.  Those that choose other schools come off the board immediately and are replaced with the next athletes on their recruiting depth chart and it’s on to them.  And that is why so many athletes sign later than others.  It isn’t because these players are less qualified or deserving. It’s because they happen to be down farther on the list.

For these athletes and their families, it is excruciating watching all the others sign.  But that is the process.  It is the way recruiting works.  Our best advice?  Stay in touch with the coaches interested in you beyond the Dead Period.  Continue to express your interest.  In the end, a coach’s call may be determined by the player that sincerely wants to come to school there and play for that coach.

NSR scouts relish finding high school athletes that even in support roles have proved that they, too, have what it takes to be college athletes.

NSR scouts relish finding high school athletes that even in support roles have proved that they, too, have what it takes to be college athletes.

The spotlight always shines on our sports stars.  This coming weekend’s Super Bowl and the hype surrounding it personifies the way Americans go about deifying those at the top.  But a closer view of the athletes in support roles at every level of athletics makes us realize that they are the ones providing the infrastructure on which stars rely.

High school sports is no different from the pros.  Headlines home in on the upper crust, the athletes that get the attention and credit for victories and winning seasons.  Yet, without the effort and dedication of mid-level athletes, where would the upper echelon find themselves?  Day after day the also-rans show up for practice, work diligently under the radar, and do their invaluable part to support those that bask in the bright lights of stardom.

At NSR, we believe it is those athletes that will never be featured in online profiles, nor see their pictures prominently placed in articles, that deserve our admiration in equal measure.  Yet, they are too often ignored and their contributions overlooked.  Take the second and third team athletes out of the equation and what remains is no foundation or podium on which the stars may stand.  These unheralded athletes give far more than they can ever expect to receive in return.  They miss as many classes, show up every day, sit in on team meetings, learn the plays, give 100 percent, take the hard licks, go home with bruises and hear all the pre-game and halftime speeches as the first-teamers.  Yet, they simply aren’t appreciated or given their due respect. It’s a sad, but true, commentary which we at NSR have worked for 34 years to correct.

You see, these athletes have dreams, too.  Many of them want to have the same opportunity to play at the next level.  And, surprisingly to some, they actually can be college athletes.  They may not have the abilities to play at the highest level, but they do have the skills, grades, character and family support which college coaches treasure.  We believe that they deserve their shot at the gold ring.  That’s why nearly 75 percent of all NSR athletes go on to compete at the NCAA DII, DIII, NAIA and JUCO levels.  And that’s the reason that when we scout high school, club or travel teams that our scouts don’t merely attend contests to admire the stars, but to find those athletes that make the stars look great.

NCAA Division I coaches are smiling today knowing that next year juniors will be fair game.

NCAA Division I coaches are smiling today knowing that next year juniors will be fair game.

NCAA members could have packed their bags last Wednesday afternoon and the Association’s national conclave would have been considered a major success after just one day of meetings.  By agreeing to permit Division I coaches in designated sports* to begin making initial contact with high school juniors on September 1, a full ten months sooner than was previously allowed, college recruiting’s gatekeeper has relented from its long-held position of shielding prep student-athletes from the recruiting fray.  But in doing so, the NCAA has come to the realization that it can no longer hide from technology, advanced communications and media criticism.

Make no mistake, there will be a serious ripple effect from this rule change which will impact hundreds of thousands of young athletes across America and around the globe.  Basically, the new contact date means that the recruiting process will be pushed up an entire year, making juniors fair game.  The old rule protected juniors to a degree from head-on collisions with DI coaches.   The NCAA’s prevailing opinion was that it wanted to have a hand in preserving the high school experience for student-athletes for as long as possible.  However, the almost universal use of social media and cell phone texting eventually painted the NCAA into a proverbial corner.  For several years, they have been looked down upon as antiquated and stubborn beyond reason in their stance.  Hardly a day passed by when they weren’t being dragged through the mud on talk radio and other sports outlets for their seemingly indifference to modern times.  But by testing the influence of an earlier contact date via Division II coaches this past year, and finding that no substantial harm resulted, Division I finally laid down their arms and surrendered.

The ripple effect will also be felt in the sophomore class.  They will now be squarely in coaches’ cross-hairs.  Division I coaches will be on them.  DII coaches will ramp up their efforts because of the additional competition.

And for juniors as this New Age of Recruiting is ushered in?  They will be inundated as has no junior class in history.  For those prepared, it will be a joy ride, but it will be a very long joy ride.  For the ill-prepared, it could be more a curse than blessing.  Either way, the next calendar year will be at the very least interesting.

* Volleyball, softball, baseball, field hockey, wrestling, tennis, golf, lacrosse, water polo, rowing, women’s ice hockey and soccer.

 

NSR 2013 prospect OJ Howard verbally committed to Alabama as a junior and should have had the option to sign with the Crimson Tide during the fall of his senior year.

NSR 2013 prospect OJ Howard verbally committed to Alabama as a junior and should have had the option to sign with the Crimson Tide during the fall of his senior year.

We are three weeks away from the only football signing period the NCAA has for the class of 2014, February 5 through April 1.  With no fall early signing period permitted, Division I and II football programs are busy solidifying their verbal commitments, soothing nervous recruits and parents, fending off encroachments from other programs on those same commitments, conducting their own back-door recruiting, and all this while running scenarios of every conceivable outcome.  It is tension at its highest as the future, that is the success or failure, of every NCAA DI and DII program in the nation hangs in the balance.

That tension and win-lose proposition leads us to conclude that the NCAA should give serious consideration to adding an early signing period for college football’s top two divisions.  With recruiting now starting as early as the seventh grade, we know that the stress and pressure which gradually builds for the athletes, their families and college coaches can be alleviated to some degree with the addition of a fall signing period.  Yes, there is the risk that an athlete will be injured during the final few weeks of a high school football season, but that is the risk every coach, we think, is willing to take if they can put some of the brouhaha behind them as has been the case with basketball for years.  Granted, not all recruits will want to sign early, but those that do should be provided that option.