Getting recruited: 7 things college coaches want you to know

By Janis Meredith | Posted 8/14/2017

For many young athletes, getting recruited to play college sports is their long-term goal. If your child has that dream, take a few minutes to hear what these college coaches have to say to parents and athletes. I talked with four college coaches:

Joel Penner, 16-year football coach, head football coach, Dordt College (Iowa).

Charles Coan, 27-year soccer coach, current assistant coach, Michigan Tech University

Ordell Walker, former head football coach and assistant athletic director, Bluefield (Va.) College, 16 years college.

Bryon Hamilton, nine-year college football coach, Shasta College (Calif.).

Each of them shares what they want parents to know and what they are seeking when they recruit athletes.

1. “It’s time to let your child do the talking”

When being recruited, encourage your child to be in the driver’s seat of the process. Do not be the parent that dominates the conversations, it gives coaches the impression that your son/daughter has not been prepared to be a leader. (Penner)

2. “You must know the truth about scholarships”

Be realistic about your child’s talent compared to the talent at the level he or she wants to play. (NCAA) D-1 players are offered D-1 scholarships in their sophomore and junior years. If your child is not being offered one that early, he is probably a small college athlete. (Walker)

3. “Be prepared for the ego adjustment for your child”

Your child is going from the top of the mountain, back to the bottom – senior to freshmen. Help him understand this is quite an ego adjustment and he needs to be humble and persevere. (Penner)

4. “Grades matter way more than you think”

Time management and academic discipline are musts in order to survive and flourish as a student-athlete. (Hamilton)

We actively recruit our next class beginning in May. Your child needs to be an academic qualifier by May of his/her junior year. It’s wise to take SAT/ACT often and early. (Walker)

5. “Look for the right fit for your child”

Pick the right experience for your child’s future (as opposed to the cheapest school/best scholarship, highest level, best facilities, etc.)  Keep in mind the PEOPLE that will influence your child are the key to their experience being a beneficial one. And go to camps at the level you can realistically play. This is the best way to get exposure to coaches. (Penner)

6. “We look for self-motivated hard workers”

We want athletes with a great work ethic and never a sense of entitlement. They must have a great passion for the sport. College athletics is different and much more demanding than high school. (Hamilton)

We want self-motivated players. If his coach or counselor says he is lazy and you have to stay on him to do his work, that’s a problem. (Walker)

7. “We look for much more than skill”

How do they talk to their high school coach? Do they respect authority? What are their family dynamics? How do they treat their parents? (Penner)

We judge an athlete’s character by demonstrated attitude toward parents, coaches, teammates, referees, opponents, friends, and his or her behavior on official visits and student stays, as well as behavior in meetings with coaches. (Coan)

I want players who are coachable. Can he learn new things or is it all about what he did in high school? Is he willing to try and compete to make uncomfortable things comfortable? Players and parents who talk bad about their high school coach’s offense or defensive schemes are warning signs that they will talk bad about their college coaches. And those players are headaches. (Walker)

As coaches we see hundreds of players. High school athletes must understand that it’s a buyer’s market. So as an athlete, your child must do everything he can beyond the field to show that he will be a contributor to a college program and not suck the life out of it with potential issues. (Walker)

As I read through these coaches’ statements, the thing that stood out to me was simply this: Your child’s chances of being recruited are much higher if you and your child are just as concerned about character, grades and work ethic as you are about skill. Those are the intangibles that could very well be the deciding factor for your child’s college dreams to come true.

Janis B. Meredith is a sports parenting blogger, podcaster, and life coach. She provides resources to help parents give their children a positive and growing youth sports experience. Learn more about good sports parenting habits in her book, 11 Habits for Happy & Positive Sports Parents