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How Colleges Recruit
Nancy Nitardy

Here are some basic recruiting methods used by just about every college coach in the country:

By Nancy Nitardy

1) Coaches recruit from national-, regional- and state-level competitions.
2) They recruit from summer camps.
3) Coaches recruit athletes who write and show an interest in the school and sports program.
4) They recruit from videotapes.
5) Coaches receive recommendations from club and high school coaches, alumni and other college coaches.

The most important step, and the step you have total control over, is method No. 3. Your letter to a coach can be the key to triggering the recruiting process. One of the best ways to get noticed, and to find out what it takes to be a part of a college program, is to write the coach. Yes, take the initiative and write the coach! All it takes is a basic letter in which you include your academic assessment (GPA, test scores and class rank) and your athletic achievement (the level at which you are you competing).

Most college coaches probably will respond with one of three answers:
1) "We are very interested in you. "
2) "This is what it takes to be a part of our program. " or
3) "Sorry, you are not at the level we're looking for (either athletically or academically)." These responses will tell you which doors are open to you, what level you need to be playing at to compete for a program, and/or which doors are closed. A personal letter can get the coaches' attention. Get the coaches' attention, write those letters now!

You may already have experienced method No. 1. College coaches swarm to the championship events to watch high school athletes compete. Even a coach who isn't in attendance requests the rosters from these competitions. They then send recruiting letters to athletes who might be potential contributors to their programs. Many athletes will receive a letter after attending a national championship or regional competition. You've just been mass mailed! It's OK -- the coach is interested in you, it is just not personal, yet. This mass mailing most likely will include a sport questionnaire. Note: Questionnaires are key to the recruiting process. If you receive a questionnaire from a college you may be interested in, RETURN IT! The returned questionnaire tells the coach you want to be recruited. A questionnaire left sitting on your desk may ding you from a school's recruiting list. Regardless of what you already have sent to the coach, fill in the questionnaire and send it back. If you don't hear back from a school, call or send another letter to the coach.

Many college coaches will want to see a video of you in action. Coaches rarely recruit an athlete sight-unseen. Especially with team sports, have a video of your championship play available to send to coaches on request.

Coaches spend summers coaching at camps and interacting with high school athletes for the purpose of recruiting. Many future college players are discovered at summer camps. Most coaches run camps on their campuses. If they're not running one, they're working someone else's. It is highly recommended that you attend camps where college coaches will get to see you play. Not only will coaches get to meet you and watch you play, but you get to meet the coach and experience that coach's philosophy and techniques.

Coaches can not possibly see every athlete compete and can't possibly know about every great athlete out there. Some college coaches get recommendations from club and high school coaches. Others receive tips from alumni who will let coaches know of talented athletes in their hometown area. Even college coaches share information with each other about recruits.

It is important for you to know NCAA Division I and II schools can offer athletic scholarships, and these coaches are likely to have recruiting budgets. Also, these coaches are more likely to be active in pursuing athletes in the recruiting process. Division III, NAIA and junior colleges do not have athletic scholarships and, typically, do not have large recruiting budgets. Thus, if you are interested in one of these programs, it is even more important for you to take the initiative.

College coaches love to coach, they don't necessarily like to recruit. They attend championship competitions looking for talented players. They run camps in search of their next star player. And, they check their mail for letters from interested prospects. Let them know you're interested in their school. Don't sit back and wait -- go for it!

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