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The huddle

July 20, 2018

What Should a High School Student-Athlete Do if They Get Turned Down by Their Dream School?

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Locker Room Talk asked a little over 300 head coaches from across the country to give advice on what a high school student-athlete should do if they get turned down by their dream school. A big similarity that we saw across the board was that the athlete should be prepared for their dream school to turn them down. You should have some sort of backup plan. If those backups don’t work, repeat the process. Coaches also suggest trying to play for Division 3 schools. We hope that their advice will help you with this burning question. Here are some quotes from some great coaches on this subject.


  • Head Coach Bill Smyth, Boston University Swim and Dive
      • “This happens all the time. Be ready for backups, and backups for the backups.”
  • Head Coach Rick Bennett, Union College Men’s Hockey
      • College rosters are filled with student-athletes that were not chosen by their number one school. Like life…move on as quickly as possible.”
  • Head Coach Mike Stawski, Concordia University Chicago Men’s Baseball
      • “First, they need to be honest about their abilities. Everyone wants to play at UCLA but not everyone is good enough for that. Each player needs to write a list of what is important to them. Playing time, winning, rapport with coaches or players, facilities, etc…by making that list you can narrow down the schools that offer all of these things. Then once that list is narrowed you can narrow it again by figuring out which schools you can get into and play at. Everyone has a “dream” school but that dream can change once you visit other schools and realize there are a lot of great places with great opportunities available.”
  • Head Coach Gregory Hughes, Princeton University Men’s Heavyweight Rowing
      • “I always encourage recruits to have a smart plan during the recruiting process.  This includes a realistic approach towards potential outcomes and good, well-rounded options.  Communication is key. I strongly encourage every recruit to ask specific questions of each coach they’re working with to make sure that they have an accurate sense for where they stand.  If a particular school doesn’t look promising, make sure that you have sound options that you know you like and you know like you.”
  • Head Coach Jennifer Teague, Columbia University Women’s Softball
      • “They need to realize that just because they didn’t get into their dream school, it doesn’t validate who they are as a player. There is a place for everyone if you are willing to work for it. The dream school might not have needed that position for that year.”
  • Head Coach Steve Donahue, University of Pennsylvania Men’s Basketball
    • “Everything happens for a reason. So many people get turned down from their dream schools. Make the most of whatever situation is presented to you. Always have backup plans besides your dream school, even if it doesn’t involve playing a sport.”
  • Head Coach Spencer Allen, Northwestern University Baseball
      • “If you go back to my advice in the recruiting process, getting turned down by your dream school should not be difficult because you already had someone tell you that you cannot play at that school. Options are always coming and going. Focus on development and keep working until you must make a decision or you find the right fit. If you are not getting the attention you desire, that is probably a hint that you need to look elsewhere.”
  • Head Coach Jake Ross Jr., Michigan State University Baseball
    • “Be aggressive with the process and don’t limit yourself to one school. If your “dream school” isn’t interested or doesn’t have room, then pursue others at different levels if you truly want to play. There are a lot of places to play and there is nothing wrong with DII, DIII, NAIA, etc.”