Recruitment: Nine Essential Tips To Help You Become A Student-Athlete In College

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A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of listening to Coach Kerry Hassall who is the recruitment coordinating coach at the University of Tulsa, Steve Heldebrand (Holland Hall Athletic Director), and Christy Utter who is the head coach of Holland Hall Field Hockey. The hour-long talk provided much food for thought about the collegiate recruiting process. As a result, I have summarized some of the main talking points below. It was my observation that some things have evolved, since I last posted about this process, so I wanted to pass along the following tips and hope that they create some value for you.

1. Recruitment: Keep Your Options Open

It is always a good idea to keep your options open. Many athletes fall into the trap that it’s got to be Division 1 or bust… There are great programs at both the Division II, Division III, and club level. If you want to row in college or play the sport of your choice don’t limit yourself to just Division I as you may miss other opportunities. To be clear, If you want to compete at the D1 level, I’m certainly not discouraging you from doing that. However, it is important to remain flexible. In addition, choose a school while you feel like you’re going to thrive not just a school that your best friend is also going to.

2. Study Hard

If you have a GPA of 3.7 or higher you have a 67% greater chance at getting a college scholarship. Therefore, make sure you’re working just as hard on your studies as you are in the boat or in the gym.

3. NCAA Clearinghouse

Ensure that you have completed your NCAA clearinghouse process as early as possible don’t leave this to the last moment so that you are well prepared for the college recruitment process.

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4. Plan Your Standardized Testing Schedule

Take the ACT and the SAT as early as possible. Please don’t leave it until your senior year. Ideally, you will need to take it a couple of times in the spring as a junior and make sure that you’re aware of the deadlines for registration. College coaches generally like to see 1270 for an SAT, a GPA of 3.7, and an ACT of 27. For example, if you have a 26 on your ACT it is well worth taking it again to get it up to a 27. This could be the point of inflection in terms of interest in you by a college coach.

5. Fill Out Online Recruitment Questionnaires

One of the first places to start your recruitment journey is to fill out the online recruitment questionnaire which many programs have. You should also follow this up with an email and also make sure that you are being responsive to any emails that you receive. At this stage, Instagram and other social media platforms tend to be the popular choice, but don’t forget that email is an important medium for getting your message out and making your recruitment application stronger. Therefore, if you email the coach (which you should) make sure you check your email every day. Finally, as the potentially recruited athlete, you should be the one writing the email and not your parent.

6. Beware Of The Canned Email!

This point is useful in relation to point #5. It is not a good idea to send a canned email to coaches. You need to be careful when you cut and paste when you are composing your emails to recruitment coaches. If you must have a canned email to save yourself some time, take a moment to review how that team is doing and use that to preface your email before you get into the main selling points of why you should be a member of that program.

The real danger of cut and paste is that you forget to change the name of the school or coach and then hit send. For example, if you send an email to the University of Tulsa and forget to change the team name from SMU to Tulsa that looks really bad and immediately puts you on the list of not very desirable athletes. You don’t want that. Additionally, try to include in your email why you want to be at that school. What interests you about that school both academically and athletically. You want a way to differentiate yourself, so do your homework and put in the time and that can only help to strengthen your application.

7. Leverage Your Social Media Presence

Leverage your social media footprint to your advantage. In this day and age, there are multiple ways to get yourself on the radar by using the various platforms that are available. For example, post footage of yourself performing well and follow coaches on Twitter or Instagram and try to get them to follow you.

In addition, if there is a particular program or team that you are particularly interested in, spend some time engaging with their social media. Recruiting coaches will generally pay more attention to those athletes that seem engaged with what their program is actually doing and achieving. This strengthens your application and shows the coaching staff that you are serious about joining their program or at least very interested in the progress of their team.

8. Build Relationships And Communicate Your Progress

During the recruitment process, keep up regular communication with the recruiting coach that you’re working with. A suitable interval between communications could be every two weeks. Send them your current times and also tell them the goals that you’re aiming for over the next four to six weeks. When you hit those goals send a quick email to keep them updated as to your progress. College coaches are looking for the improvements that you make over time and not just necessarily one score at one moment in time.

9. Maintain Good Relationships With Your Coaches and Teachers

Maintain a good relationship with your present coach. Also, do your best to maintain good relationships with your teachers. Remember, if you are involved in the recruitment process a coach will most likely be talking or corresponding with your coach. It does not matter whether or not you like your coach or not, remember that these people will be giving you a reference.

In conclusion, I wish you the best with your college recruitment journey. If you think there is a point that I have missed, I would love to hear your feedback, so drop me a line at or connect with me on Twitter at @CoachBergenroth

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