The path and process of being recruited by a college to play a sport can vary with each case. Some have great memories of their recruiting process, while others look back with regret or frustration. While most student-athletes fall somewhere in between that spectrum, there are some outliers, for instance, my high school friend Sam, whom I spoke with about his experience.
Sam was a standout offensive lineman in high school whom I played with; he was recruited to play Division III football at Wheaton College in Illinois. His talents earned him recognition from a long list of Division III schools. He was reluctant to go through the recruiting process, especially since he was unsure of his desire to play football after high school. Sam ultimately committed to Wheaton and went to Illinois for preseason camp.
What happened to Sam once he arrived on campus in early August was much different than what he expected. The coaches had assured him that his academics would come first, and they told him that he would come to love being a part of the Wheaton, football family. After his arrival, however, he soon learned that his expectations were not going to be fulfilled.
Most freshman athletes have a period where it is hard to get acclimated; this can be highly stressful – you are in an entirely new environment with new people and many new responsibilities. Sometimes this new environment can be made to feel much worse by college coaches. After preseason ended and school began, Sam quickly learned that many of the classes he wanted to take conflicted with practice. Football required film sessions, lift times, and practices and did not allow for him to take the classes he wanted to. The coaches had assured him he would have the flexibility and ample time to study, the countless hours committed to football and lack of academic resources made it virtually impossible for him to keep up. Also, the playing time he was promised was denied to him. Even when Sam attempted to reach out to the coaches and explain his situation, the coaches blamed him for his poor performance and offered little to no help.
Although Sam had never considered leaving the program, the dishonesty and unavailability of the coaches contributed to him making a callous decision. After his freshman fall, Sam decided to not only leave the program but the school as well. He had been on the fence about playing football in college, especially thousands of miles from home, and his experience had completely tarnished his passion for football. Sam was a good student but knew he had to take more time on specific projects than others, and the time commitment to football wouldn’t allow him to keep up. Having coaches that were not understanding and dishonest during the recruiting process also didn’t sit well with Sam, who wanted what his coaches had promised him.
What was the most important thing you learned from this experience?
“The most important thing I learned was probably not to let other people convince me into a situation I was unsure of. I had always either planned on picking a school just based on academics or maybe pursuing other options until coaches started calling me and making all these promises. Just because of a connection with a coach over the phone or in-person during recruiting happens, it doesn’t mean they care as much as they say they do. Despite the bad experience at school, a positive thing it taught me was to stand up for myself and do what I want to do, regardless of what someone else says.”
What is the most important piece of advice you would give a recruit who is going on a visit?
“I would say just don’t be intimidated. Take some time to think of questions you want to be answered and get a straight answer. It can be easy to fall into the trap of having older people tell you what to do and what’s best for you, but in the end, it’s all up to you.”
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.