At the most competitive academic schools in the world, sports are not always at the forefront. However, Ivy League Rowing has established itself as the most dominant conference in men’s heavyweight, men’s lightweight and women’s rowing. It is a sport that has been a part of the Ivy League rivalry and tradition since the first college rowing competition back in 1852 between Yale and Harvard. Rowers who get a spot on one of these prestigious teams will undoubtedly receive an incredible education and a chance to compete at the highest level of collegiate athletics in their sport. There are a lot of rowers looking for limited positions which makes the recruiting process very competitive.
This type of competition makes it common for student-athletes to be left out to dry. A college rower, Sam, went through a horrible experience of his own while vying for a spot to row for an Ivy League school.
There is some background on collegiate rowing that is important for you to understand. I was informed that “The timeline for rowing recruiting typically comes to a head in the fall of senior year in high school around mid-October. However, as you can imagine, it all depends on when the top schools, such as Princeton, Harvard, and Yale make their decisions because all the rowers who get deferred resort to their second and third choice schools resulting in a trickle-down effect.“
Sam and many other rowers who want to row at the top level must actively pursue the top schools, improve their times, and stay in shape all while keeping up their grades. They also must keep their options at least somewhat open to safety schools should no top programs recruit them. Keeping the safety schools interested while showing them little attention is very difficult and can cause athletes to be left with no college to row at by the end of their final year in high school.
Sam was statistically a great rower. He mentioned, “In the sport of rowing there are what we call 2k scores, which is an objective measure of a rowers strength/fitness, and is the most commonly referred to metric by college coaches.” The 2k recruiting score comes from a timed combination of sprinting and endurance on a rowing machine for 2,000 meters. Sam’s was excellent. He was right around the scores of the rowers already rowing at the top schools in the country.
Although Sam’s score made him appealing to the top-tier schools and his grades made him eligible to row, there was one problem. It was his rowing technique. It was abnormal and looked off to coaches even though it got him across the finish line. He was able to row as fast, but in this extremely competitive process, recruiters and coaches will look at every detail and scrutinize. This made Sam nervous about his chances.
The problem college crew has with recruit retention made this process difficult for Sam. “Student-athletes use rowing to get recruited into these schools and then quit after a year or two.” Schools that compete at a lower level of rowing but still have excellent academics or other desirable qualities often get top rowers who were rejected from the Ivy leagues only to have them drop the sport halfway through their college career. Schools do not take to kindly to this, and rightfully so. They see this as athletes using their rowing program to get admission into the school. This leads the school to believe the student-athletes never really had an interest in rowing at a non-Ivy program.
These reasons explain why non-top rowing programs avoid these types of players and require their recruits to show interest in their school during the recruitment process. Sam was struggling with this. He needed to overcome his poor technique with the Ivy’s while showing interest in the non-Ivy’s.
Sam made a choice to spend most of his efforts toward a top-tier program which was the Ivy Leagues. He reached out to them, stayed in contact, performed at meets, and kept both his body and grades in shape. After his first-semester of his senior year winded down, late in the recruiting process, last minute, he was informed of a decision. He was turned down. Rejected. At first, Sam had a strong sense of disappointment and anger. Those feelings then turned to panic because he realized he did not have a place to row the following year.
He needed to stop and think. He needed to find a way to get back into the recruiting process this late in the game. He looked through at all of the other programs that he had been in contact with over the past year. None were a top Ivy program, but they were great academic schools with solid crew teams. However, he had already broken off communication with the other institutions.
Sam made a tough decision. He hit the reset button on a lot of relationships with coaches that he had previously told he was not interested in. At first, it felt awkward going back to coaches that were interested in him when he was not interested in them. It can be hard going back to the table after it has turned. Sam did it anyway because he wanted to row. He was an oarsman at heart, no matter what his technique was like and no matter what school he had to attend.
After a nerve-racking, hectic couple of days of emailing and calling coaches around the country, Sam finally got an acceptance, and his game of musical chairs was over. Sam was lucky enough to find a chair to sit in and is enjoying his college experience today. Sam isn’t rowing at any of the Ancient Eight schools, but he is rowing and getting an excellent education. The recruitment process was stressful and almost cost him his sport, but in crunch time he was able to focus and overcome.
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.