Following the cancellation of the 2020 spring racing season, row2k solicited the collegiate coaching community to engage in a variety of high-level topics within the profession. We submitted over sixty questions across a dozen topics and thank the coaches and staffs that found time to contribute their thoughts during this stressful time.
This week we focus on the topic of Recruiting with the following question:
WHAT DO YOU WISH POTENTIAL RECRUITS KNEW BEFORE STARTING THE RECRUITING PROCESS?
ALICEA STRODEL – MINNESOTA WOMEN
This should be an exciting time! You’ve earned this opportunity and have opened doors through sport that otherwise may have not been available. Use this time to find the teams and people that inspire you!
BILL ZACK – SAN DIEGO STATE WOMEN
I wish that each recruit would give a lot of thought to how they would fit into the depth chart at each school they are considering. There is nothing wrong with aspiring to go to a great rowing school, but you should consider what your impact would be at each school. I know of a lot of college rowing careers that have been cut short because an athlete overreached in choosing their program. I don’t think this issue is unique to rowing, but I think people in other sports consider practice opportunities and playing time more than most rowers do.
KERRY HASSALL – TULSA WOMEN
This is a mutual relationship. You should not have to chase us, and we should not have to chase you. This shows us how you will act if you do come to the school and it will show you how we will act to you. If it is taking weeks to get a response or vice versa, this does not give a good impression to you and it doesn’t give a good impression to us.
NICK JOHNSON – BARRY UNIVERSITY WOMEN
I wish they knew that their value to a D-I program is not the same as their value to a D-II program, and how crippling student debt can be. A lot of recruits in the USA will choose a partial scholarship to a D-I program and a bunch of student loans over a full scholarship from a D-II program. That is part of why we recruit so many international rowers, because they don’t get wrapped up in the D-I vs D-II discussion and are simply looking for the best way to pay for college since they generally can’t take out student loans.
LUKE AGNINI – GEORGETOWN HEAVYWEIGHT MEN
It’s not so much what I wish they knew, but what I wish they give serious thought to. Doesn’t matter what your sport is, if you don’t have the head to be a D1 athlete, then it’s a non-starter. Recruits have to know the level of commitment, dedication and physical workload it takes to do this at the college level. The majority of the limitations in college aren’t necessarily physical. In my experience, it’s emotional capacity. Rowing is a great sport where you can outwork your talent level.
I think too many times, recruits think to themselves, ‘sure I’ll row in college, all my buddies are on the team etc.” If they aren’t emotionally equipped, they’ll arrive to college and be in over their heads. That usually results in them being in a situation they shouldn’t be in and it’s a total loss for the coach. It’s also important to note that it’s ok if you don’t want to be a college athlete, it’s not for most people. But be honest about what you are getting into.
JAMIE FRANCIS – EMBRY-RIDDLE UNIVERISTY
That it’s OK to not know all the answers, but you should be open to considering options that you may not have thought of. Also, and I’ve said this for years to high school rowers I’ve coached as well as my own children, it’s OK to limit your university choices to rowing schools, but you should choose a university based on the school’s ability to help you achieve your goals. One more thing, the 5 official visit rule only applies to Division I, you can visit as many DII, DIII & club programs as you wish.
ANONYMOUS HEAD COACH
Recruiting is a process that should be driven by the prospect. The more they show interest in a program, the more a coach wants to reciprocate.
LIZZIE KINNEY – BATES MEN
I would like to see more recruits reaching out to programs that they actually want to be a part of. Instead of sending a ton of stock emails, know who you are contacting, and the reason you are striving to go to that school. It says a lot more about you as a recruit when you can explain your reasoning for reaching out and why this program seems to be the right fit for you.
TREVOR MICHELSON – DARTMOUTH LIGHTWEIGHT MEN
There are three things I wish all potential recruits knew before starting the recruiting process:
- Not everyone has the physical, mental, and technical ability to compete in college at the Division I level, and there is no shame in that!
- Academics always take precedent over athletics in the Ivy League admissions process.
- Rowing in college should be a four-year commitment, and when done right, can be the best years of your life.
JIM LISTER – HAMILTON UNIVERSITY
First, know yourself. Think about what you want in a college/team experience. When someone has a list that to me seems all over the place, there is more work to be done to self-reflect. I think once you know your wants, the list of schools becomes much more clear. Second, reach out, email, call, visit. We wish we were mind readers, advocate for yourself!
EMILIE GROSS – NORTH CAROLINA WOMEN
We understand that you are looking at other universities, we understand you get other offers – I prefer to keep an open and honest discussion about all of these things if you feel our program is the best fit for you.
CAMPBELL WOODS – MARIST MEN
Far too many athletes think about picking a college like picking one off the shelf when in reality it’s a lot more like purchasing a used car. You need to go visit and give it a test drive and when it’s time to commit, the financial process requires back and forth negotiation and communication.
Recruits who do it best come for a visit with the coach and ask good questions that are important to them, they keep the coach informed and they are honest and truthful about their personal performance and their intentions in the process. Try to meet member of the team on an official or unofficial visit to get a feel for what the team is like and how they treat each other. Very often you will find that programs that look similar on the outside are very different behind the veil.
JOHN BOYD – IONA WOMEN
Please don’t ask me what the tuition is at our school. I have at any given time at least two dozen unopened emails from prospective athletes that I want to respond to and I don’t have the time to google for you.
BART THOMPSON – ADRIAN
Candidly, I wish that recruits knew that they don’t know everything about the process. By that I mean: many think they know what kind of school they want, what sort of program they want, what major they want to study. We meet a lot of recruits who, when they finally visit, realize, “I thought I wanted to go to a big school, but I actually love this small school.” Or they might choose a school based on their current plan for a major, but then they change their major shortly thereafter.
I also wish that more of them knew how important it was to be a good communicator. How you address a college coach, how well you follow up on previous conversations—all of things say a lot about that recruit.