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The huddle

November 30, 2017

Recruiting Horror Story: Why Recruiting Visits Are a Must

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Switching from playing high-level soccer to rowing my junior year created a world of opportunity regarding being recruited to top universities to row. I put a lot of time and energy into researching programs, talking to coaches, and creating my “rowing resume”. By the time I was a senior in high school, I was determined to go on as many official visits as possible. By early September, all of my five official visit spots were organized and booked.

In mid-October, a school that had not been on my radar contacted me. The opening line of their email read, “We had no idea that you were already a senior!” Great first impression, right? This displayed that their staff was not organized or gifted at researching their recruits. They then offered to arrange an official visit for me, but since it was close to where I lived, and I had already scheduled my five officials, I opted for an unofficial visit instead. This meant I was in charge of paying for my transportation. Before my unofficial visit, I liked the school. It boasted a beautiful traditional campus with gorgeous buildings, excellent academic programs, and a fantastic surrounding area. The rowing team wasn’t as accomplished or as strong as I would have liked, but I was willing to remain open to the idea of helping to build the program.  I had family ties to the university, and academically, it would’ve been a great institution to attend.

After meeting with the coaches on a Friday afternoon and touring some of the facilities, they gave me the itinerary for the rest of my visit and turned me over to a few of the rowers. My schedule for the evening included attending a swim meet, going to the team’s Halloween bake-off at a rower’s apartment, and then spending the night in the dorms before practice early the next morning.

The swim meet I attended was fun and the rowers I went with were friendly. However, once we got to the team’s Halloween party around 8:30pm, nobody would talk to or interact with me. It was as if I did not exist. I felt incredibly uncomfortable and wanted to go home. Once the party started winding down around 10:00pm, my hosts found me, and we left. As we were walking out to the car, I realized I hadn’t eaten since lunch. There had been no mention of dinner the entire visit. I sheepishly mentioned this to my hosts and asked, “Would it be okay if we got dinner?”

“They didn’t feed you?!” one of my hosts asked, shocked.

We ended up stopping at a burger place and ate our food around 10:30 pm. With the team’s practice the next morning at 7 am, I felt a little bad for keeping them out late. After we left the restaurant and headed back to the dorms for the night, my primary host, Brooke passed me off to two other teammates and declared that she was going to see a movie with her boyfriend. Already slightly annoyed at the events from the evening, I couldn’t believe that she would just ditch me. Not to mention, the air mattress I slept on that night in their dorm room had a hole in it, so I woke up at 5:30 the next morning flat on the ground. Groggy, I got dressed and headed out the door with three of the other rowers (sans-Brooke and any mention of breakfast) to watch the team’s practice. As we walked out the residence hall’s main door and into the pitch-black October morning, Brooke came running up to us in the same party clothes from that night. She apparently had not come home after her movie. “I’m SOOO sorry guys, I’ll be right down, just give me a few!!!” It was at that point that I ultimately knew that this was not the place for me. If a team is not going to put their best foot forward or display professionalism when hosting a recruit, then I could only imagine what goes on behind the scenes. The team did not seem to take their sport as seriously as I do. Later, their coach offered me a decent scholarship, but when I declined it, he became very cold and bitter. This was unlike other coaches, who were all very understanding and wished me the best of luck when I declined their offers.

To make matters worse, a few months later in the spring, as my high school club team was out on the water for our afternoon practice, the head coach of the university raced his three collegiate varsity eight-man boats directly at our high school four-man boat, full-speed without the intention of stopping. The university’s team was not following the lake’s traffic pattern and was causing a hazardous situation for other crews. Fortunately, my boat and our coach were able to get out of the way just in time, but not far away enough to avoid hearing the horrible obscenities and words that the university’s coach screamed at my coach, essentially blaming her for getting in his team’s way.

“Thank goodness I didn’t end up going there,” I thought to myself as my team, stunned from the encounter, processed what had just happened.

Visit Fact:  A prospect may take a maximum of five expense-paid visits, with no more than one permitted to any single institution. A prospect may take an unlimited number of unofficial visits to an institution.

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