Often when I'm talking to a player or her parents, I'll hear something to the effect of, "Coach Bill told me/us that a lot of coaches/several coaches/some coaches/or the coach from (fill in a name) was talking to him about me/my kid...or was here to see me/her." This sounds like great news, and indeed, it may be. However, what happens too frequently is that when I ask the player/parent, "So what was the outcome?" they don't have an answer for me.
I’m looking for the specific message that coach sent--e.g., "We're definitely interested. Have her call us." or "We like what we see and we're going to watch her some more, perhaps contact her." In other words, WHAT did the coach want to know? WHAT was said in the conversation? "Was there a MESSAGE or OUTCOME of the conversation that was directed at you the player?
Unfortunately, this is where many travel coaches suddenly become vague. Sometimes it's because they didn't write anything down or they were bombarded with coaches talking to them about a lot of kids, and the specific intent of this particular coach's conversation was lost along the way. Sometimes it happens because nothing CONCRETE took place. The college coach may have mentioned your name because you wrote him/her, but the coach is actually more interested in someone else or is there to look at someone on the opposing team. In other words, your name came up, but it didn't signify anything.
It may also be that your travel coach asked the college coach what he/she was looking for, and the coach said something like, "We still need a catcher and a 2nd base." And your coach might have mentioned your name along with the other catcher and his two 2nd basemen. So while your name was said, there's nothing in that conversation to indicate direct interest. You could follow up by sending a video, resume, etc., and mentioning that your travel coach told you that the Univ of ___ was looking for a catcher. However, there's no guarantee that anything will come of this.
Talk to your travel coach before any showcase tournaments and maybe even give him/her a little gift of a small spiral bound notebook with a pencil or pen attached. Ask your coach to jot down the names of college coaches who express a serious interest or who ask about you so that you can follow up with a call or email. Ask your coach to ask that college coach for a card that he can pass along to you.
Be respectful, but stress to your coach that in order for you to be as proactive as possible, you need all the help and information you can get. That includes knowing what's real and what isn't. We all know your travel coach works hard for you. But here's the bottom line. Recruiting may not happen overnight. It might be two steps forward and one step back with some schools. But it has to move forward or it's not going anywhere. A college coach talking to someone about you is awesome. But I can guarantee you unless something real, something solid comes out of it--and that may only happen if you follow up--it's a meaningless conversation. That's why it's important that your travel coach get as much info as possible whenever he or she talks to a college coach about you.
7-16-15 STAYING THE COURSE WHEN THINGS DON'T GO YOUR WAY
Many of you are more than half way through your summer schedule. You've gone to Colorado or New Jersey, and you're headed to Nationals in a few weeks...or perhaps wrapping up your summer and looking ahead to fall ball tryouts. Every year at this time, I begin to see stress and even unhappiness appearing on the faces of a lot of parents and players. Tournaments like the big ones in Colorado really test your love of the game because there are so many good athletes competing and so many things that can factor into your performance=-rain, heat, altitude, attitude or mindset, location, injuries and more. Some players surprise themselves by how well they do and if they have the good luck to be seen in the process, recruiting may result. These athletes may be rewarded with phone calls and emails from college coaches now. However, other players put so much pressure on themselves (or their parents put the pressure on them) that there is simply no way they can “show” at their best.
The key to a successful college search is knowing how to beat the system. (In a good way of course!) If you have had a great summer, make the most of it by calling and emailing coaches who saw you or who requested more information. Follow up and ask what next steps you can take with them. If you weren’t so lucky, and you've struggled this summer or you just didn’t get seen (something that's very possible for a lot of kids), remember that there are 1200 colleges with teams out there, and all you need to do is focus on the schools where you can succeed…where you can “wow” coaches--particularly if they missed you this summer.
If you find yourself wanting to give up--as some players do--then you probably don’t want this that badly in the first place. If you’re serious about playing in college, however, whether you spent the summer being a star or being disappointed, try to build on this experience and move forward more committed than ever to finding the team and the school that are right for you! (By the way, if you’re a 2016 grad and you're terrified that no one will want to recruit you, consider rethinking your game plan and give me a call!)
8-1-15 TIME FOR A "ROAD CHECK!"
If you are a 2016 graduate, certain things should be happening in your college search right now. They can vary from player to player depending upon things like grades and test scores, work you’ve already done (or not done), your understanding of the realities of the college search process, and most importantly, your family's ability to see the big picture. But if you're feeling a bit anxious now that summer ball is winding down, it may be with good cause!
When August rolls around, players/parents tend to fall into two categories. Group A consists of parents who clearly expected their player to be scouted, recruited and given a scholarship simply because she was on Team X or Team Y and because she "deserves" to be recruited. They may not have a solid basis for believing this (because honest travel coaches would never make these kinds of promises), but believe it they do. Then there is Group B which is made up of those parents who realize it's actually the family's responsibility to manage their daughter's college search.
In Group A, there will be parents who clearly feel they were let down by their travel team. In their minds, the coach "...didn't do enough to get their kid recruited." Other parents, while disappointed, may be a little more optimistic because they choose to believe that this coach will still help their daughter get her scholarship over the course of fall ball without the parents or player having to do any real work.
Within the B Group--e.g., those who accept some responsibility for their player finding a college to attend--there will be many players who did their homework and who are now busy following up, scheduling visits, or even discussing scholarships and commitments.
There may also be a smaller group who went along with the travel coach who told the players to "...email your top 10 or 15 or 20 schools..." and continue emailing them ad infinitum, in perpetuity, and for all eternity, because just by doing that, they would all get scholarships. Most of these parents and players are sitting around waiting for something to happen.
But there may be some families whose player sent out letters and resumes and video links, but who now don't know what to do next. They may not understand that knowing what schools to target and how to follow up is every bit as important as sending the letters off in the first place.
If you have a 2016 grad (or your parents do!), and you feel you aren’t where you should be at this point in your college search, it might be a really good idea to ask for some help or guidance. A “road check” might be all it takes to get you moving forward towards your dream destination!
8-13-15 SCHOOL DAYS, SCHOOL CRAZED!
All of you have either started back to school or will be doing so in the next couple of weeks. You may also be gearing up for fall ball with tryouts and practices. This can be a stressful time for seniors in particular because not only do you have the demands of your academic workload, but you need to focus your college search for real at this point.
This will include making follow up phone calls to coaches, scheduling college visits, and beginning to work on college applications and possibly retaking your SAT or ACT. Be smart and develop a game plan or a calendar or checklist so that you ensure you never miss a call, a deadline or some equally important element of this very critical fall. In six months (or sooner) when those college acceptances start rolling in and you settle on a school and team, you'll be very glad that you took care of business this fall.
Oh yes...along the way, be sure to get your nightly 8 hours, do your workouts, and take the time to have some fun!