If college coaches aren’t flooding your mailbox with interest letters, there’s a chance you’re not even on their radar.
Whether it’s because of a losing season or one plagued by injuries, countless high school athletes slip through the cracks and never find their place along the recruiting trail.
“There’s no set way to find [athletes],” says Jamey Shouppe, Florida State baseball’s associate coach and recruiting coordinator.
Recruiting isn’t an exact science, but if you use the right formula, college coaches soon could be knocking on your door. STACK went straight to the source for tips on marketing yourself, hitting up Shouppe, Virginia Tech head softball coach Scot Thomas and Penn State T&F coach and recruiting coordinator John Gondak.
Not every athlete can be a blue-chip prospect. If you’re a mid-level player looking for a chance to continue your game, it’s important to keep your options open.
“The good thing about [athletes who] aren’t ready for the Division I level is the junior college system,” Shouppe says. “Find out what their workout dates are and go work out for them.”
Coaches also realize that high school athletes are still developing and are far from reaching their peak.
“We focus on how an athlete looks [while] running,” Gondak says. “Do they look like they have the potential to develop and continue their growth when they get to the college level?”
You may be down for the season, but you’re not entirely out of the recruiting game.
“Ninety-nine percent of all commitments are being made after students begin their senior year,” Gondak says of the T&F recruiting process. “If they get healthy in the fall of their senior year, they’ll have cross country and indoor or outdoor track to get back in the game and have some performances that we will be able to recruit off of.”
Gondak says to focus on getting healthy first, and then contact the schools on your short list.
If your team is coming off a down year, or hasn’t had a winning season throughout your high school career, chances are recruiters won’t be flocking to catch any of your games.
Switch gears and join a club team during the summer. Club teams—or travel teams—journey outside their regions and participate in showcase tournaments that are must-see events for coaches and recruiters.
Overshadowed by the Star
If you’re being overshadowed by a star teammate, it’s time to separate from the pack and make a name for yourself.
Thomas recommends writing letters to the college programs that interest you and getting into their summer camps.
“Camps give us an opportunity to work with the [athletes] one-on-one and get a feel for what they’re about,” Thomas says. “We’ve taken several [athletes] out of our camps as walk-on individuals who end up being scholarship players for us.”
“Make sure you show up ready to play, and put your best foot forward,” Thomas says.