Being a transfer student is not an easy process, as a matter of fact it is very grueling because there are so many rules for a student-athlete. I was able to interview an former top high school cross country and track recruit in the nation. She is now a college athlete. Her options did not stop; unfortunately things didn’t go as planned with the option she chose. This athlete shares some red flags to watch out for during the recruiting process that she has experience in, and she shares her story as she has been a two-time recruit!
Kathryn: Looking back on your first recruiting process, was it honest and easy? If yes,how? If no, how?
The recruiting process is far from easy. It was really hard to squish four visits in before the first signing period while simultaneously running my senior cross country season. I ended up taking one less visit than the allotted five. I think my dad did an excellent job of helping me make lists on what I wanted in a school during my sophomore year and allowing me to take unofficial visits so when it came time for officials. I had an idea of where I wanted to visit. It was overall a pretty honest process. At no point did I feel like I was falsely promised something or “sold” certain features of a program. The coaches I spoke with were interested in me being happy as both a student and an athlete whether that meant with their team or elsewhere. Finding the right fit and culture were emphasized. I will never forget a piece of advice I received from one coach on finding a school where you would be happy at even if you weren’t running.
Kathryn: What were some red flags (athletically or academically speaking) at the school you were at in which you knew it was not the right fit?
I enjoyed the location and atmosphere at my prior university. Although the academics were challenging, I was excelling in the classroom. Athletically, I had a good freshman year. I did not meet all the goals I set for myself but walked away with freshman records and many conferences and regional accolades. A week prior to returning for my second year, our coach decided to take another position. I was happy for him furthering his career, however, for a person who is already very close with her family, this made going back to school challenging. I battled with homesickness my freshman year but had a close-knit team, wonderful roommate, and supportive, funny coach to help me get through it. I was ready to go home at the end of freshman year but had enjoyed the adventure. When I got back to school, it was hard leaving my parents not knowing what to expect. My first cross country race was less than ideal and to top off that disappointment; I injured my foot a week later. I was never an injury prone person in high school and didn’t look into the medical and rehabilitation resources at the school when in high school. When injured I received very little medical care, and the whole process was very slow. Our new coach had been dealt a difficult situation which tore her away from the team during the cross-country season. I do not fault her for she was unaware she would be thrown into a head coaching position before the year began. I became very sad, homesick, and lonely when injured. I ended up going home for some treatment and therapy. However, I could only fly home so often being a full-time athlete. Our team was very small, and because of NCAA eligibility rules, I had to begin competing in indoor much sooner than my fitness was ready to keep our team compliant. Indoor was full of highs and lows. It was during this time I spoke with my family and people who coached me in high school and decided to reach out to another university with the thought of transferring.
Kathryn: After being at your new school, what advice would you give a high school athlete on making sure they find the right fit for them during their recruiting process?
Make sure you pick a school you will be happy at even if you are not running. Consider the future of the coaching staff and ask yourself if you see them staying there for years to come? Look at the leadership on the team and culture the present athletes have built. Also, consider the type/style of training at the program. Do you see this style helping you reach your goals? If you can’t buy into the process, and the coach is stuck in their philosophy, you will not see yourself achieve your goals. Also, consider when you are happiest. For me, I wanted to take a risk and leave my home state for college. However, I discredited how truly close I am to my family. Although I loved the adventure, I felt like something was always missing. You can always run four years at one school and maybe go out of state for grad school or a 5th year. Evaluate yourself and if you are ready to spread your wings and go far, fantastic, but if you are not there is no shame in staying close to home. I learned the best school for me was right in my backyard, and I have never been happier.
Kathryn: Was your second recruiting process better than the first? What made it better or worse?
It was really hard to begin the process. I had to get to my coach and ask permission to speak with other schools. I was terrified. I knew it was the right move for me emotionally, but it was scary thinking about breaking ties with the school I had initially fallen in love with. After I got the release, which was by far the hardest part, it got a lot easier. I wanted to be closer to home, and there was only one school I was looking at. I knew I needed a program that would foster a tight-knit team culture for years to come, as well as, a solid coach I could count on remaining with the program. Our team lost both a coach and team component after my freshman year, and I didn’t want to go through this again. This made the process very simple and only one school I desired to attend. It was hard going through the process without letting anyone know what was going on. I didn’t want to offend my team but needed to do what was best for me. Working quietly and from a distance with the process was hard, as well as, making the final decision to leave. When money and your education is on the line, it hard to finalize any decision.
Did you have any challenges in your recruiting process? If yes, how did you overcome it?
Not really. It was hard not being able to make phone calls during my second recruiting process publicly. Everything had to be kept on the down low, which is extremely challenging when you add the out of state distance into the equation. When I finally transferred some of the school and application process was challenging. I had to pick a new major and make sure I could maximize credits transferring.
Kathryn:What were the top three things you would recommend a high schooler to look for in a school and athletic program?
A close-knit team with strong leadership
Academic and medical resources/support
Kathryn: Did you have any funny encounters with a coach or current team member when you were a recruit?
If yes, explain it! I am short, and the coaching staff underestimated how short I am at this school everyone road bikes around campus. The assistant coach lent me her bike, but it was still way too big. I only brought skirts on my visit, and when struggling to get on the bike, I successfully flashed the coaches and girls on the team, as well as, cutting my ankle.
There are so many factors to apply to make this decision. Try not to overlook things that may seem unimportant to you, because they all have an impact and can set you up for the right place, right away! We hope after hearing this story; you can adjust considering factors, you may have not even thought about before.
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.