I learned a great deal about the college recruiting process during my time as a college baseball coach. Many athletes are capable of playing college baseball, but for one reason or another they do not get the opportunities or scholarships they deserve.
This article is intended to teach amateur athletes, and their parents, the steps they can take to get into college athletics. The majority of college athletic programs have very small budgets. Therefore, athletes must find ways to market themselves to the schools and programs the wish to attend.
When I asked one current college coach about his approach to finding players, he said, "we rely on our people to help us find the right players." College coaches have large networks of relationships they've built over the years, including mentors, colleagues, and other influential people. Coaches rely on these people to make them aware of players they believe would fit into their programs. Many coaches have a list of people they trust to give them honest feedback on an athlete's ability. Some athletes hire a recruiting service that promises them a lot of "stuff." Although some of these services are credible, the best way to get a coach's attention is to find a mutual contact between your network and the coach's.
The best way for a baseball athlete to market himself in the college recruiting process is to find a travel team, organization or local trainer who has a great reputation of getting players to the next level.
Some teams are designed to help their athletes both improve and showcase their game. These teams often play at events in front of several scouts and coaches, and their managers usually have relationships with college programs. Some teams charge over $2,500 to play for them. While that sounds high, it can turn out to be a great investment if an athlete earns a college scholarship. The same goes for certain trainers. If a trainer can help an athlete earn a scholarship through their relationships, the fee they charge can be more than worth it.
Tyler Courson owns Next Level Baseball in Montgomery, Alabama, a facility that trains players and fields several travel teams. Courson claims a 100 percent success rate in helping his players get to the next level. He said, "we strive to find our players the right programs for their talent level, chosen college major, and region desired."
A coach or trainer like Courson has tremendous value. His years of experience and large network of relationships help him not only identify programs that are good fits for his players, but also facilitate scholarship offers from those programs.
A parent of a local high school senior recently asked me, "why is my son being recruited by a Division II school in our area, but the local junior college has not even contacted us?" That's a tough question, because both programs have winning traditions, and the athlete has the grades and the ability to play at either program. When I talked to the coach of the junior college team, he said, "right now, we do not have the same needs [as the Division II program does]."
This is not uncommon. Not every program recruits every qualified recruit available due to both time restrictions and roster needs. For example, a program might have a surplus of catchers. It makes more sense for that program to recruit for a different position than to add another catcher. Such circumstances do exist, but taking the steps outlined above can give a talented athlete a great shot at controlling his own destiny and earning the chance to play for the school of his dreams.
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