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College Admissions: 5 Hard Truths About Athletic Recruiting

Monday, May 05, 2014

 

Sports recruiting for potential college athletes is fraught with anxiety and mystery. Why do some kids get noticed and others don’t? Where is the best scholarship money? Why aren’t coaches calling me? Adding sports to the college admission process makes things MUCH more confusing and emotional. It is a very time consuming process, and a lot of specialized knowledge is required. Before you begin your search for the right college and team, here are the key things that athletes need to know:

1. Target schools that are the best fit for you academically first, then think about sports.

The reality is that less than 30% of students who start playing a team sport in college are still playing that sport in senior year. Injuries happen, students fail to make the minimum GPA, players get cut because of talent, etc. If any of these things happen at a D1 university, chances are that you can wave goodbye to your athletic scholarship. Even if you do play all four years, less than 2% of college athletes will go pro. So in the end, your best chance for the future is to focus on colleges that will propel you on to a great career or graduate school. Pushing a top athlete who is a weak student into an intensely competitive college doesn’t usually make sense. Chances are that the student won’t be happy or academically successful. Conversely, a top student shouldn’t go to a college that has a less competitive peer group and academics just because the coach is heavily recruiting him/her.

2. The biggest recruiting myth is “if you are talented enough, the coaches will find you."

If you are sitting in a city that is a D1 sports Mecca like Chicago or Dallas that might happen, but otherwise, it is unlikely. You need to proactively contact coaches and get yourself noticed. First, ask your present coach what level

he/she feels you could play in college. Then, consider colleges on your list from that level and below (just because you CAN play D1, doesn’t mean you SHOULD play D1). Get coach e-mail addresses from college websites and send your athletic resume. Then, follow-up with a phone call and supply video. Mass recruiting services that promise to blast your information to hundreds of coaches are not the solution.

Coaches rarely pay attention to mail from recruiting services, and NCAA rules prohibit coaches from speaking to paid sports recruiters about potential athletes. Coaches want to hear from the student or team coach, not a parent and not a sports recruiter.

3. If you want to be recruited for D1 sports, you need to start by 10th grade.

Most D1 coaches evaluate kids in 10th and 11th grades and make commitments by the end of junior year. Some sports like swimming run later, but not many. More importantly, parents need to remember that although D1 schools are famous for scholarship money, VERY few students get a full ride, and the coach can only pull a few kids through admissions. D2 colleges also have a small pool of athletic scholarship money that has to be divided sparingly. For recruiting contact rules and to register at the NCAA Clearing House (required for D1 and D2 recruits), go to http://www.ncaa.org.

4. D3 is the untapped goldmine.

Families tend to overlook highly ranked D3 colleges which are often very wealthy and can give students much larger scholarships than a D1 or D2 school. Although NCAA rules prohibit D3 colleges from awarding money for athletic talent, many D3 athletes receive generous need and merit-based aid. The D3 timeline for recruiting is also much more realistic if you start the process late. Most D3 coaches recruit athletes into the fall of senior year. Remember, that highly ranked D3 teams can be very competitive and often have better skilled athletes than lower level D1 colleges. Also, the time demands can be more realistic for students pursuing a difficult major.

5. Travel teams, showcases and college-based sports camps are critical to getting seen by coaches.

If you aren’t doing one or more of these things, it’s doubtful you will be recruited. Opportunities vary by sport, and it only makes sense to pay for showcases and college camps where the coaches from your target schools will be present. A college counselor who is well-versed in athletic recruiting or your coach can tell you where the high visibility opportunities are for your particular sport and target colleges.

In the end, remember that being a recruited athlete is an emotional roller coaster. Coaches will show interest one day and drop you for another recruit the next day. You need to have thick skin and be laser focused on the academic and personal aspects of each college, not just the team ranking.

Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic, college counseling and athletic recruiting services for students. www.collegeadvisorsonline.com.

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Related Slideshow: Ten Greatest Days in New England Sports History

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February 1, 2004

Patriots 2004 Super Bowl

In 2004, the Patriots captured their third Super Bowl in four years. The win put New England in the group of the small number of dynasty teams in the NFL, joining the Packers, Steelers and 49ers.

Super Bowl XXXVIII finished with the Patriots holding on to a 32-29 win over the Carolina Panthers.

The game was also famous for the infamous wardrobe malfunction involving Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake.

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December 21, 2010

Longest Winning Streak

The UConn women broke UCLA men's streak of the most consecutive wins in a season.

They dominated their sport like no other and on December 21, 2010, UConn's 93-62 win over Florida State put UConn women in the #1 position.

Later, Sports Illustrated named UConn women as the #3 greatest dynasty in sports in the decade behind only the Lakers and Patriots.

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June 12, 1984

Celtics v. Lakers

The 1980's were the glory days of the NBA and the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers were the two teams that elevated the play and excitement of the era.

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were the superstars and were the feature players. Their rivalry started in the NCAA finals when Magic dazzled and Bird fizzled.  

On June 12, 1984, the Celtics won game seven, 111-102 with Cedric Maxwell leading the Celts in scoring with 24 points and a team leading 8 assists. Bird was MVP of the series.

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October 27, 2004

Curse of the Bambino

In 2004, after the dramatic historic come from behind win against the Yankees, the Red Sox went on to the World Series and swept the Cardinals 4-0, to win the first title since 1918.

The World Series win broke the proverbial "Curse of the Bambino" which had been in place since the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees. 

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November 23, 1984

BC v. Miami

There could not have been a more unlikely superstar and there could not have been a bigger stage to pull off the most dramatic win when BC beat the defending National Champions.  Quarterback Doug Flutie put on the best show - maybe ever -- in college football.

Flutie threw for 474 yards and 4 touchdowns and the last TD was to Gerard Phelan on the final play - maybe the most exciting play ever in sports.

Final score: BC 47, University of Miami 45.

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October 13, 2013

Patriots Beat New Orleans on Last Second TD; Red Sox Comeback from 5 Runs Down v. Tigers

New England sports fans enjoyed the most improbable double header comeback wins.

First, the Patriots upset the undefeated New Orleans Saints with a 70 yard last minute drive that saw the Patriots score with just 5 seconds to steal a 30-27 win. The Saints had numerous opportunities to put the game away.

Then, the Boston Red Sox in Game Two of the ALCS at home rallied from a 5 run deficit in the 6th inning and came back on a David Ortiz grand slam to tie and a 9th inning hit to win. The Red Sox had lost Game One of the series 1-0 and were on the verge in Game Two of losing any chance of winning the series. 

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May 10, 1970

Bruins Beat Blues 4-3 in OT to Win Stanley Cup

The Boston Bruins took New England by storm behind the play of Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr.

In the final game and the score tied 3-3, Orr scored the winning and iconic goal to launch the Bruins into the hearts of New Englanders and to create one of sports most memorable photos.

 

Bobby Orr... behind the net to Sanderson to OOOORR! BOBBY OOOORR! ...scores and the Boston Bruins have won the Stanley Cup!
—Dan Kelly calling Orr's Stanley Cup winning goal
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April 28, 1966

Celtics Win 8th Straight, Red's Last Game, Russell First African American Head Coach

The win by the Boston Celtics over the Los Angeles Lakers in 1966 was a triple header for sports.

First, the 1966 Championship was the 8th straight and set a record never to be matched.

Second, it was the last game that Red Auerbach would ever coach.

Third, as Red stepped down, the enigmatic Bill Russell was named player coach - he was the first African American pro coach of the modern sports era. (Brown alum, Fritz Pollard coached pro football).

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February 3, 2002

Patriots Upset Rams to Win 1st Super Bowl

The New England Patriots were 14 point underdogs to the Rams and this was expected to be one of the biggest blowouts in Super Bowl history.

Instead, the Patriots played physical defense and although outgained 427-267 in yards, went on to best the Rams. 

The Patriots won on a last second field goal to win their 1st Super Bowl by a score of 20-17.

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October 20, 2004

Red Sox Come Back from Down 0-3, to Beat Yankees in ACLS

The Red Sox were looking at another sad loss to the New York Yankees three games to zero and down to 3-4 in the ninth inning and down to their last three outs. The Sox scratched a run off a stolen base by Dave Roberts and a clutch hit by Bill Mueller to tie the game 4-4 and send it into extra innings.

In the 12th inning, the Red Sox scored two runs off a walk off homer by David Ortiz. 

The Red Sox went on to make history winning three more games.

 
 

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