Getting Recruited Part I: How Do I Start?

The Inside Scoop on Recruiting

While many young athletes dream of becoming the next Tom Brady, we all know that not everyone can reach such a high level of competition. However, the odds of competing at the collegiate level are far greater than becoming a professional, but can offer a pretty nice payoff as well -- potentially over $100,000 worth of free education. And, make no mistake, at the collegiate level, the crowds still roar and the joy of victory is still very sweet.

But as a young athlete, how do you go about reaching that next level of competition?  Sometimes just knowing where to begin can seem overwhelming. This post is the first in a series that will help guide you through the process of how to position yourself or your young athlete for collegiate athletics. In this first article, we will give you the basic overview of where to begin. In the second article, we will discuss working through the recruiting process and how to gain exposure. In the final article, we will examine how to leverage offers and the final decision-making process. 

Know The Structure 
There are 3 primary national governing bodies in collegiate athletics: the NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA. Each organization is usually subdivided into separate divisions depending on the sport. Each has their own rules regarding eligibility requirements, scholarships, and the recruiting process, so make sure you research them all. For example, the NCAA requires that you have a certain GPA in your “core” courses based on your score in the ACT/SAT to be eligible. The NAIA traditionally uses a simple 2-of-3 criteria (2.0 GPA, 18 ACT, top 50% class rank).  

The point is that each organization uses a different system and you should research each one’s eligibility and recruiting rules.

Know Your Sport
Each sport also comes with its own set of regulations: signing dates, scholarship structures, and funding are all different. For example, NCAA D-I women’s tennis is a “head count” sport, meaning fully-funded programs will have 8 full scholarships to award to 8 individuals. Other sports are “equivalency” sports meaning that scholarships can be split. Typically, NCAA D-II men’s golf has 3.6 scholarships that may be divided among the roster. Some athletes may get full scholarships, some may get 10%. Again, the important thing is to understand the specific details of your sport on the national, divisional, and conference levels.

Know Your Needs
Understanding what each athlete needs is by far the most important part of the process. Some may thrive in a large school, some need the individual attention of a smaller school. Each individual has their own wants and needs. The best way to go about determining each athlete’s needs is to list 3 types of goals: academic, athletic, and social.  

Parents and athletes should list these goals and discuss them to gain a clear understanding of what each is looking for.  Ultimately, if you don’t know what your goals are, it’s pretty hard to narrow down the choices.

By far the best way to begin is to educate yourself regarding the overall system of collegiate athletics and determine your individual goals -- so, start there and we'll regroup next time. In our next post, we will cover how to work through the recruiting process and the various methods of gaining exposure to college recruiters.

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