Over the past year, I have been leading ‘Recruiting Sessions’ for parents whose athletes attended various college showcases. As I was planning these sessions, my goal was to simplify the process and give parents ‘real tools’ to pass on to their athletes. Below is an outline that I use to begin each session, I like to call it ‘Recruiting 101’.

  1. Determine the level that your Prospective Student Athlete (PSA) can play at collegiately
    • Be honest
    • Seek counsel – talk to coaches
    • Determine long-term academic goals/career paths
    • Don’t focus on a Division – competitive programs exist at all levels
    • Patience is KEY – athletic ability changes
  2. Build a Profile
    • Athletic (club/high school)
    • Academic (include GPA/Test Scores/Honors)
    • Current match film – video is KEY
  3. Build a Target List
    • Level PSA can compete at – KEY
    • Academic opportunities (research undergrad programs)
    • Research Coaching Staff
    • Research Student-Life on Campus
    • Location (is it conducive to your family’s goals?)

  4. Begin Communicationswith College Programs
    • Send introductory emails to targeted list
    • Engage your Club Director/RC/Coaches to support your efforts
    • Ask the ‘right’ questions
    • Follow up and respond – KEY

Now, I know these are not ‘revolutionary’ ideas and many of you who are involved in assisting young athletes use many of these in various forms. What I have found is that when you follow these (4) KEYS and stay committed to the tenets, success is imminent. One point I drive home to all parents, is to let your student-athlete OWN the process! This is not something that you should be doing for your daughter. If they do not have the time or inclination, then simply put – they are not ready to be recruited.

I hear on a consistent basis from parents, telling me their PSA is ‘busy’ with practice, school and various other activities, so they take this ‘burden’ off of them by writing & sending emails, calling coaches, searching out opportunities, doing research on programs and so on. Hats off to parents who are not ‘busy’ and have the time to own this process…but I challenge you to ponder on this – where will you be when they are in college, have practice, have project deadlines, travel and still have to keep up with their weekly assignments?

My advice to parents, take the cell phone away and have them spend time investing in their future. The statistics are staggering in terms of cell phone usage…The Washington Post Reported in 2015, “Teens are spending more than one-third of their days using media such as online video or music — nearly nine hours on average, according to a new study from the family technology education non-profit group, Common Sense Media“. Encourage your athlete to give up a minimum of 1-2 hours per week and spend that time on their recruiting interests and communications. Their efforts and their ownership will reap many rewards!

The MOST IMPORTANT aspect of these Recruiting Sessions has been the College Coaches Panel. I knew that hearing from college coaches was a must. Parents NEED to hear what these coaches have to say! After all, they are the decision makers, evaluators of talent and relationship builders in regards to student athletes. Many of these coaches have been former collegiate athletes, club coaches, are parents and have years of experience in the recruiting realm at all levels.

College coaches are extremely passionate about sharing their thoughts and experiences with parents to help them better understand the process as well as sharing advice with parents to relieve the stressors of the recruiting process. This arena is an unique opportunity to ask general recruiting questions to college coaches as well as hear about their own personal journeys as collegiate athletes.

The plethora of advice has been invaluable to parents and there has been a general consensus from the college coaches that have participated in these panels – “We want to hear from your daughter in her own words, just send a few emails with a few minutes of highlights/match film, and if we are interested, we will respond, then it’s time to start talking on the phone and BE PATIENT!”

Most recently, I had a coach on one of the panels that has over 30+years of collegiate coaching experience at a very high level and he offered some of the best advice I have heard to date. With conviction he looked the parents in the eye and boldly spoke…”Say ‘no’ to your daughters often, let them fail, let them deal with the consequences of their choices, whether good or bad“…help them to mature…so that when they head our way they understand this, our job is to coach and not to parent!

Now, parents out there reading this…my intention is not to shame, call you out or discourage you in your PSA’s recruiting process. My goal is to help ease the burden you feel to manage your daughter’s success in the recruiting process…it is to let you know ‘that it is okay’ to let your daughter fail and overcome ‘NO’s!

I am a parent myself and stood alongside my own daughter as she felt the pain of rejection and struggled through the discovery of whether or not to play at the next level. As I let her take the lead, I saw growth as a young adult, leadership skills emerge, self-confidence and success come in ways I never could have imagined if I would have ‘stepped in’ to fix and manage it all for her.

In the closing of one of our recruiting sessions, I asked a very wise young coach to share with the parents the ‘one thing’ he wanted the parents to leave with…in his own words “slow down the train, let your daughters discover who they are”….if you speed up the train…we all have to jump on to keep up and in the process, too much learning gets lost”.


For related reading on the recruiting process click here.

About the Author

Patty Costlow is the Recruiting Coordinator for Munciana Volleyball, a long time JVA member club located in Muncie, Indiana.