Edited by Jaime Evers
Nowadays, the recruiting process for athletes can start as early as freshman year of high school. For me, it started my junior year of high school, and this is my Recruiting Horror Story™. I knew that ID camps and big showcase events were common places for college coaches of all division levels to use as scouting grounds for future players. However, most of my successes during the recruiting process were not through ID camps, but rather through emailing my highlight film to coaches. The reel included videos from my junior soccer season and a comprehensive summary of game stats and awards I had accrued throughout my high school career. My highlight film was so impressive that one head coach offered me a spot on the team before he ever had the chance to watch me play in person! Recognizing that the coach was interested in my skill-set just from my highlight film said a lot about him and the potential he saw in me as a player.
Picking my Top Choice School
All aspects of the school, including the campus, social life, and academics were amazing. The major reason the school was a top choice of mine was because of my strong relationship with this head coach. His willingness to reach out and tell how much they wanted me to attend the school and play for the team showed how valuable I was to the program. While many coaches and recruiters recommend focusing on academics and campus, my attention was purely on the fact that the school had a coach who wanted me there and who would care for me as a player on and off the field.
My Recruiting Horror Story
It was before my freshman year of college when all the success of my recruitment started to crumble. I was out on the soccer field getting some touches on the ball when my future head coach called, sounding upset. He then expressed that he was being pushed out of the job because of administrative issues: “I am so sorry to tell you this, but I was just informed now that my contract is up for grabs at the end of this season. It infuriated me that the administration did not give me a heads up that this would be my final season, so I do not want to be under their control anymore, and therefore, I am resigning as head coach of the university.” Once he hung up the phone, my heart sank. Several thoughts popped up in my brain, “What was I supposed to do now? Do I decommit? Do I look for other schools to go to?” My head was spinning with contemplation on what my next move would be. He was the reason the program and school were so intriguing to me; the relationship we built was the deciding factor that drove my commitment.
Then, things only worsened. Two days later, a notification on my email popped up that the assistant coach of the program had resigned as well. The email stated, “Due to the administrative issues going on with the women’s soccer team, I have decided I should take a step back and move on with my career.” Now, this was the moment my head began to fill with alarm and frenzy. Panicking and agonizing over the next steps, I had a lot to think about with very little time to do so. We had less than a month until we needed to report to campus for pre-season and there were no coaches. Anxiety and stress overtook my mind; everything was uncertain.
Two Weeks – Still No Head Coach
One week goes by, no head coach; two weeks go by, no head coach. As the time neared closer and closer to pre-season report day, the more stressed I became to go to school in a few short weeks to begin college soccer at a new program with no coaching staff. Living with such uncertainty, I was beginning to doubt ever committing to play. The only reason I did not quit was the support from my parents, club coaches, and teammates, who continued to assure me that it was all going to be okay.
Following the resignation of the assistant coach, the administration reached out with an official statement to address all of the events. They claim to have hired an interim head coach who was a small-town native and coach of the high school team in our area with no college experience. My thoughts were, “Why is someone with no college experience coaching being hired for the head coach position of a strong Division II soccer program?” It made no sense to me or any of my teammates. More than that, it was disappointing to not receive any guidance or support from the administration during this stressful process. The way the situation was handled made our team feel as if we had no one on our side.
Meeting the Interim Head Coach
Finally, it was pre-season report day; it was time for the team to meet our interim head coach. It was hard for anyone to have a positive mindset knowing that the most successful coach in the school’s history got pushed out of the job. This was frustrating for most of us to be dealing with because having a new head coach is essentially like having to re-try out for the team you already committed to. This meant I would have to prove myself all over again because the new coach had no idea of my style of play nor my strengths and weaknesses.
I never thought I would have to endure two recruiting processes, but in the blink of an eye, it was my reality. I was back to square one. Once again, I would have to prove myself and why I should be on this team. Having new head coaches is like hitting the restart button on your computer so you have to completely re-input all your favorite settings. It is a painstaking and meticulous process.
My freshman year was a challenge. The new coach was not a great communicator, and I did not get much constructive feedback. He was also very inconsistent with his lineups as after I scored my first career goal, I then played five minutes the next two games. However, with the help and advice of my older teammates, I made it through, and a new coach with collegiate experience was hired, and he remained my coach for the next three seasons.
Growth Through Adversity
With our new head coach, I was able to improve each year and make All-Conference during my junior season, and graduated early after three and half years. I’m now attending a graduate program at the same university. The lesson learned from my experience is that a new recruit must expect the unexpected – even the possibility of losing the coach that recruited him or her – and consider what is best for them both academically and athletically.
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.