Connecticut Sports Recruiting: Getting Started

DanQBWalpoleMy recruiting experience, nearly 14 years ago, was rather unremarkable and probably similar to many of those who were interested in playing Division II and III athletics upon graduation from high school.  After playing organized football for seven years, I simply wanted to keep playing.  My college search was simple – I looked for a good school where I would have the opportunity to play football.  My approach to recruiting was similarly simple – I responded to letters I received from schools who were interested in me attending and playing football, an applied to a few others that I thought might be a good fit. 

In hindsight, my approach was too reactive, when I should have been proactive.  When I finally began to figure things out the process was nearing its end.  Here a few ideas on beginning the recruiting process:

1.  Draft Your Team

The recruiting process is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  For the coaches that are recruiting you, it is routine.  To account for the vast difference in experience between you and a coach, you need to surround yourself with a team of individuals who can help navigate the process. 

Parents can be good resources, especially if they have been though the process before.  If your parents have not been through the process, they can still be a great resource, but consider seeking out other parents from your school or area who have  been through the process with their children.  Seek out your coaches and athletic director.  Coaches from other sports at your school might also have experience with the recruiting process. 

The team will look different for each student-athlete.  It doesn’t matter who makes up your team, but be sure that you can consult with people who can provide guidanace throughout the recruiting process.  Remember: you’ve never done this before.

2.  Make a Plan, Share Your Plan

No matter the level of collegiate athletics, you should have a plan for navigating the process.  If you are a top Division I athlete, the schools may come to you.  If so, do your best to determine what you’re looking for (academics, athletics, extra-curricular activities, other important criteria to you) and match the schools that pursue you with your objectives.  Otherwise, you might lean towards the last school to contact you, or the last school you visited, while losing sight of your objectives.

For most student-athletes who seek to play Division II and III athletics, a more proactive approach may be needed.  You need not limit yourself to schools that contact you.  Research the schools that you might be interested in and contact them.  Make lists of the schools that interest you, or those that are interested in you.  Find out if any of your coaches, athletic director, teachers, parents or friends parents know any one at those schools.  If so, they may be able to provide valuable information and introductions.  Otherwise, introduce yourself – virtually all coaches have posted their contact information on their school’s athletic department website.

Once you have a plan, share it with everyone: your recruiting team; all of your coaches (who may not be aware that you want to compete at the collegiate level); your teachers; your family and friends.  You’ll be surprised how many connections you’ll find and how many helpful suggestions you’ll receive when a team of people are on the lookout for opportunities.

Next post in the Connecticut Sports Recruiting Series: Sell Yourself.

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