Tommy Elwood was in elementary school when he realized he had a talent for running. He was signed up for a race in the 4th grade that would ultimately start his athletic career within Cross Country/Track and Field. He remembers placing in the top 10 because the top 10 runners were given a T-shirt; that T-shirt: “Inspired him to keep running.”
That race, as well as a summer camp he attended for cross country, helped Tommy realize his love for running.
After middle school, he further realized his talent and passion for running when he was able to compete on the varsity team as a high school freshman. He continued to stay on the cross country and track teams all throughout high school until his senior year was tragically canceled due to the pandemic. This talent and passion, however, did not protect Tommy from his own Recruiting Horror Story™.
The Recruiting Process Begins
Tommy started his college recruiting process sophomore year putting himself on a recruiting website to help him get noticed and make the transition as easy as possible for himself and his parents. This website seemed to be a good start: “I was getting a lot of messages and emails through that website.” The colleges that were trying to get in contact with him were on the lower-level competitively, however because he was not making the times that would set him apart. Once he got older and was able to meet his goal times, he began to attract the attention of bigger programs. Even some Division I schools such as DePaul University and Western Illinois University began to notice him.
Tommy was contacted by a small school Division III in Indiana. He and the coach were emailing and calling regularly to get more information and make sure this was the right school for Tommy. The coach’s wife, who also happened to be the assistant coach, was in contact with Tommy as well. Tommy was even in contact with current athletes within the program, which helped him feel “really welcomed” within the program.
It all seemed to be going smoothly. Until Tommy was then struck by some information that he did not see coming.
Head and Assistant Coaches Fired
Tommy received a call from someone he had never met, introducing himself as the head coach at the school where Tommy was being recruited. Confused, his first reaction was to call the coach he had been in contact with.
When he confronted the coach and his wife, they told him that they were both fired from their positions at the school and were therefore unable to continue recruiting him into the program. He suggested that Tommy was “more than welcome to contact the new head coach.”
This school was a top choice for Tommy at the time, so he listened to the previous coach and continued to keep in contact with the new head coach throughout his recruiting process. Unfortunately, after exchanging emails and phone calls with the new coach, Tommy did not seem to connect with him in the way he had with the previous coach. The new coach described his vision for the future of the program, which was not the same vision that Tommy wanted to be a part of.
Ending the Recruiting Process with His Initial First-Choice School
Even though he was looking at other schools during this time, this was a setback for Tommy and his parents. They would have to find other schools and restart the whole recruiting process, talking with current athletes and coaches, and visiting the schools to find the right one. Starting fresh eventually led him to find DePaul University, a Division I school.
After coming into contact with the coach at DePaul, he was getting to know him and “telling him about a few of his races.” He talked about the times he was getting and specific races that he had participated in. While the coach was getting to know Tommy, Tommy wanted to get to know the coach. Making sure the coach and he worked well together and had similar visions for the team was important to Tommy.
Promising Recruiting with a Division I School
Over the next few months, the coach stayed in touch with Tommy to ensure he applied to the school and eventually to invite him to visit the school. Tommy went on an official visit, where he practiced with the team, stayed in the dorms, and even went out to eat with part of the team. He said he enjoyed the visit and felt like the “culture here was a lot more family-based” than other schools he had looked at.
Compared to other schools, Tommy felt that there was a “job to be done” at DePaul. He felt that he was there for a reason. After his DePaul experience, “I enjoyed the school so much, there were a lot of amenities that DePaul had that other schools didn’t have.”
Related school rating: DePaul University
Picking the Best Fit
After getting the full experience of a day in the life of a DePaul Blue Demon, he went home and took all his schools and offers into account. He said the DePaul coach helped him get as much financial aid as he could, which obviously is a big factor for choosing a college. A couple weeks after his visit, he texted the coach, ready to commit.
Overall, the entire recruiting process was “pretty stressful. For me, it was a little less stressful because I had my parents along with a recruiting officer who really helped the whole process.” He describes all the coaches as easy to work with, and the practices as “pretty fun.”
Although it is fun visiting different schools, it comes down to the tough decision of where he would be the best fit and realize the most success. While this process and decision can be exciting and challenging for all athletes, every step along the way brings you closer to your future school and team.
When doing research in the recruiting process for my daughter I came across the LRT Sports website. I was immediately intrigued as this was another dimension of the recruiting process that many people don't even consider. My daughter and I could "short list" schools based on the education she was looking for, as well as the opportunity to play her sport. LRT Sports not only gave us pertinent information into the recruiting process with different interviews of coaches and players, it also gave us insight into current and/or former players' opinions on the coach of that school in her sport. We could use this information to re-prioritize my daughters list of schools based on this feedback. I have many friends that are, or will be, going through this process shortly and I highly recommend using LRT Sports as part of anyone's recruiting process.
The college process presents a myriad of challenges. Factor in athletics and it becomes even more daunting. Now, add the fact that you have zero experience with sports. What is a the mother of a college bound student-athlete to do? LRT Sports has truly lived up to its promise. It has kept "the college recruiting process honest and easy by providing first hand information about coaches, schools and the recruiting process." Their interviews with current students, coaches, and professional athletes have provided realistic guidance. I am much more informed because of LRT Sports! The coach ratings are the most helpful. LRT Sports interviews allow us to hear from students as to how the adults are impacting not only their athletic experience but also how they are helping to shape their adult self.
The C.A.L.C. was thrilled to have Keirsten Sires come and speak to us on multiple topics relevant to high school athletics today, including recruiting. Keirsten reached all of our students and left them with great strategies that will not only help on the fields, courts, and mats, but also in the game of recruiting. She was a true professional and delivered a wonderful message.
Now that the recruiting process and the related stress is over, I wanted to thank you for your guidance. You did so much more than we had expected. Once you started the process by matching the best academic schools first, not the best sport programs, I knew you were the one. The way you laid out a timeline of contacting coaches, visits, and camps completely took any guesswork out of the plan for us. All of the student athletes that you put us in touch with gave us a look from the inside, and made us more comfortable knowing what was coming. Finally, using your website as a resource for knowing what to expect from different coaches based on former recruit reviews gave my son confidence before our meetings. There is no way we could have figured this out on our own, you really put us in a great position when decision time came.
I think hearing from other athletes is very beneficial. To be able to learn from people’s mistakes, and to be able to have access to those voices is really helpful; especially voices that have been there and done that. It’s very important for people to have access to information that could benefit them, and in this case there are many voices that can help the next wave of athletes.
If you have something that’s going to spell [the recruiting process] out for you… it’s so valuable. I think what everyone at LRT Sports is doing to spread the word and help advocate and educate athletes on the recruitment process is incredible.
Without question would have used LRT Sports. It would have probably been one of the most valuable tools that I could have had. If you want to know what these coaches are really like then I think this is the best tool out there. I’m really glad you are allowing recruits to have a resource like this moving forward.