YOUR GOAL: To be guaranteed a roster spot at a school that is right for you as both an athlete and a student.
College coaches may contact 1000's of athletes each year to find the players that fit their needs, teams and goals for success. You are no different! Just like the coach, you need to not only contact your top target colleges, but many others. You bring value to a college, a coach and an athletic program. In return, you can get help finding and receiving financial assistance. You want a school that fits your needs and appreciates what you bring to the athletic program. College recruiting is a marketing process for both a school and an athlete. To get noticed you need to market yourself to 10 to 30+ schools initially.
IMPORTANT! If you are a college-bound athlete, meet with your high school counselor by your 10th grade year to make sure you are registering for NCAA and NAIA approved classes. Continue to work hand-in-hand with your counselor throughout high school to ensure you are meeting all the NCAA and NAIA requirements and paperwork.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a very large athletic association divided into three divisions. To be eligible, students must meet several criteria plus have transcripts and test scores verified. The NCAA has strict rules on amateurism. Student must register with the NCAA if looking into DI and DII schools. DI and DII have very precise recruiting rules and restrictions. DIII has less recruiting restrictions because academic requirements and eligibility are handled through each individual school. DIII schools can't offer athletic scholarships, but do offer money in many other ways. Many times DIII schools hand out more overall aid than DI and DII schools. Transfer students must sign a release before talking to other schools. All three divisions are competitive.
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) schools are generally smaller, secular colleges that compete regionally with other NAIA schools. This association has fewer recruiting and eligibility restrictions than NCAA and the flexibility for a player to transfer without missing a season or affecting eligibilty. It is competitive, but usually less of a commitment than DI or the top DII schools. NAIA can offer athletic scholarships.
The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) is a sister organization to the NCAA and governs two-year athletic programs throughout the United States. It is divided into Divisions and Regions.The current NJCAA has 24 separate regions across the United States.
Why You Must Market Yourself
FEW ACTIVELY RECRUITED -Thousand of athletes wait for calls from college coaches. Most of the time those calls don't come. Not because those athletes aren't good enough, but because there are too many athletes for a coach to know or contact. It is up to you to show the coaches that you are deserving of their attention and wanting to be at their schools.
LIMITED $ - You are just one in a zillion athletes competing for the same dollars. Only a small percentage of athletes get a substantial scholarship. In fact, less than 1% of all DI athletes receive a full ride. Many schools don't even fund all their allowed athletic scholarships. You must win those dollars!
RECRUITING IS OVER QUICKLY - The top prospects can get over 50 offers by January 1st of their junior year, then signed by July 1st. DI and DII schools generally know their freshman players two years in advance. DIII, even without athletic scholarships, is about a year in advance, but their recruiting is more dependent on Admissions policies. NAIA knows most of their athletes a year in advance. You must make relationships with target college coaches as soon as you think you are ready.
Your Marketing Tools
The primary use of these athletic marketing tools is to develop a solid relationship with a coach. Keeping regular contact with your target coaches will show that you are interested, reliable and committed. If a coach doesn't seem interested, try again, but let that coach and school go if it still goes nowhere. You want to be somewhere that truly appreciates what you bring to the program; you don't want to have to always prove yourself more than necessary.
Your life outside of academics and athletics
Prospective Athlete Form (on a college's website)
Emails and letters
Resume and/or on-line resume (website)
Phone calls (YOU can call a coach any time; only coaches have restrictions)
Be seen - invite coaches to watch you compete