Tips for the Student Athlete – Part 1
Getting College Coaches to Notice You
You play a high school sport and you are good. Really Good! Your goal to is play in college. There are many, many student athletes out there with the same dream. So, what can you do to increase your chances of getting the college coaches to notice you? Be Proactive! Talk to your current coach, but don't depend solely on him to get you into a good school. That is not his job. It is your job!
First things first. Register with NCAA clearinghouse. Talk to your guidance counselor. The clearinghouse has a sliding scale based on SAT/ACT scores and GPA. You are required to have taken 16 core courses. Make sure you are on track academically. You don't want to not be able to play for the school of your dreams because you couldn't get in.
College coaches can't scout absolutely every student athlete out there, you need to do what you can to put yourself on their radar. One thing you can do is go to summer training camps. Go to tournaments. Go to showcases. Play beyond what your high school offers if possible. Get out there to be seen.
College coaches have strict restrictions set by the NCAA of when they are allowed to contact you, but you can contact them at any time. Take advantage of that. Email the coaches at the colleges you are interested in. Send them game tapes, stats, and your schedule. Send them whole games, I once had a prospective coach tell me that if I send him only highlights of me making outstanding saves in net he won't watch it! Invite him to come watch you play in person.
Once you coach is interested in you, he very likely will contact your current coach. What do you want your coach to say about you? That you are a team player? That you are a leader? That you are responsible? That you are a good role model? That you are the hardest worker on your team? Be that player! While you are at it, get involved outside of your sport. Get involved in community service. Go beyond clearinghouse requirements academically. Be a responsible user of social media. Be the whole package. The more you bring to the table, the more the coach will be interested in you.
A couple of final thoughts to ponder. Every athlete wants to compete in college. And they all think they want to compete D-I. Keep in mind that there are benefits to competing at the D-III level. D-III teams are filled with good players who excelled in their sport in high school. They are dedicated players and the teams are competitive. Many of the top D-III teams play as competitively as the mid to lower D-I teams. Money that cannot be awarded for sports in D-III schools are many times awarded in the form of grants for academics, leadership or need. The schools may be smaller, and you will generally find more time to devout to academics and to pursue other interests.
If you do have a coach contact you, and you don't know if it is the school you want to attend, don't say no outright. The time to say no is not at the beginning of this process, but at the end. When you are ready to make your decision, make sure to consider things other than team standings. What is the average player's GPA? What is the most common major among the team? How many graduates? The University of Michigan coach gave me the best advice while coaching me when I attended the USA Hockey Development Camp. He said to always make sure that you pick a school you would want to attend if you went there and could not play. You never know where your college career will take you.