When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, my friend Madi would excitedly respond with, “the first girl to play for the Yankees.” Madi began playing competitive softball when she was in the 5th grade. Every afternoon, you would see her walking out of school with her large bat bag draped over her shoulders and a broad smile on her face. That was because she was headed to either a late-night practice or a game.
As we entered the tumultuous high school years, Madi’s love of the sport did not dwindle. She spent every waking moment thinking about her future softball career; school dances were missed, sleepovers were forgone, and at the end of the year, parties were sacrificed. She never minded missing these “milestones” of high school because her sport came first. She knew that she had to prioritize her work, both academically and athletically, to make her dream come true. Aside from her incredible prowess on the field, Madi was also a straight-A student. Even with all of this preparation, she still found herself face-to-face with a Recruiting Horror Story™.
Reaching Out to College Coaches
Reaching out to college coaches started when she was in 8th grade. Having a large Microsoft Excel document with valuable information on each coach like their name, email address, hometown, accolades, experience as players, etc was the only way for her. The second tab was filled with important information on each school, such as size, majors offered, graduation rate, academic support opportunities, etc. Just the sight of this list was not only impressive but also overwhelming. Madi loved showing us her lists, and as her teammates, we were excited for her.
One day during practice, Madi’s father pulled out an enormous video camera. His daughter was up to bat, and her father recorded as we all backed up into the outfield. We were attempting to prepare for Madi’s last home run. When we asked Madi what was going on, she exclaimed, “We just started filming my skills video, and I’m so excited!” This was a thrilling reminder that she was one step closer to achieving her dream.
Over the coming months, this superstar visited a ton of schools, both officially and unofficially. As mere freshmen in high school, we stood dumbfounded as she rattled off facts about the various schools. By sophomore year of high school, Madi started getting scouted by a crazy amount of universities.
By the time we were seniors, Madi had received a plethora of scholarship offers from a large number of schools. She would always try to ask our opinion on which school she should attend. Some statements that she would fire at us were, “this school has a great softball program, but the coach is known to be hard on her players, but this school has never won a National Championship, but the coach and her players have a great relationship and team dynamic; what do you guys think?” As much as we wanted to help her, we knew that this was her decision.
Picking Her Dream School
After much deliberation, Madi ended up picking her dream school. She was over the moon. All that was left for her to do was sign her National Letter of Intent. The process was finally over, so she spent the next two weeks enjoying her friends and high school. She went to parties, sleepovers and enjoyed just being a typical teenager.
In the past, Madi was extremely diligent about what she posted on her social media platforms. Everything was checked and then checked again before things were posted.
One Facebook Post
Madi was attending a house party, and out of the blue one of her friends started snapping a couple of pictures, the images were of her holding a red solo cup. Without thinking of the possible adverse outcomes, her friend uploaded the images to Facebook and tagged all of us in them. The very next morning, Madi was contacted by her future college coach. Although she tried to explain that there was diet coke in the cup, she knew what her coach was thinking. She was then given a stern talking to about the ramifications of posting “suggestive photos.” The coach emphasized the importance of maintaining a “clean” appearance on all platforms of social media. She knew that she could have lost not only her scholarship but also the opportunity to play for her dream school.
This was a warning, but needless to say Madi was utterly freaked out by the incident. In the blink of an eye, her dream could have vanished. The next day, Madi not only asked her friend to delete the picture but also made us all sign written agreements that stated that we would have to “ask her permission to post any images of her on any form of social media, including but not limited to, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.” We all understood and agreed to sign the agreement without any hesitation.
Madi shares her experience with future collegiate athletes. She states, “I want all high school athletes to understand how one simple mistake can ruin their dream.”
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.