Just as my sophomore year of high school was nearing its end, I was busy planning summer vacation. However, my basketball coach called me out of class to give me life-chang- ing news that would change my life’s direction. I had received my first letter of interest from Washington State University.
I met my coach in his office and when I got there he was smiling, holding a burgundy envelope with Washington State’s mascot on it. Enclosed in the letter was informa- tion on the school, a letter from the coach and an invite to their basket- ball camp, which counted as an un- official visit to the school. I was ec- static; this was my first-ever college interest letter.
Following up on that letter of interest, I scheduled my flight for WSU’s basketball camp and was off to Spokane, Washington. Arriving there I was greeted by other players who were there for the camp, and we took a taxi to the university. When we arrived on campus, we were assigned to our dorms. Luckily for myself I got a room to myself, which made things a lot easier. After getting settled in, we met with the coaching staff and went over the schedule for the week- end. Next, we explored the campus and started our workouts– we were treated as if we were already players. Finally, I got to eat with the other re- cruits and meet some of the current players at WSU, then go back to the dorms for some free time. Then the next couple of days the workouts were just repeats of drills and scrim- mages.
That summer I was traveling all over to different tournaments every weekend to gain more experience and exposure to the college scouts. This period of time was considered the “live” period; where coaches areable to scout, talk to you in person, and contact you by phone. In those tournaments I played well enough to gain interest from numerous schools, from Division 1 Universities to NAIA. Gaining the interest from numerous schools lead me to really experience what the “live” period was all about: constant phone calls, text messages, and speaking with coaches.
Summer flew by and suddenly I was back to start my final year of high school. To most students, senior year is supposed to be a breeze, but being a student athlete, it was one of my most stressful years. I had to main- tain a certain GPA, achieve a certain SAT score, and stay focused on what was important. It was stressful trying to decide which school I wanted to pursue. The most stressful part of all of this was keeping a school’s inter- est or losing my interest in a school throughout the year. Coming to the end of my senior year, it was time to make that important, final decision about my future.
When it was all said and done, I only had one full ride scholarship of- fer to Adams State University, a Di- vision II school in Colorado. I didn’t take their offer because I never took an official visit and I didn’t want to sign my life away without knowing what that school had in store for me. That is when I got the call from Andy Ground at Saddleback College, invit- ing me to a visit and to come play in their open gym. Prior to the arraign- ments of a visit and open gym prac- tice, I was a hesitant about playing for a junior college. But, after visit- ing and getting a feel for the school, I knew Saddleback would be a great temporary fit for me, so I decided to commit and spend my next two years as a Gaucho. I finally felt relieved feeling like I no longer had to stress about the recruiting process.
Here are the key steps to the recruitment process:
Making Contact With Coaches: Generally, for most student-athletes, the process really begins when you have your first conversation with a college coach about possibly playing for him or her.
Campus Visits: One of the many benefits of being a recruited athlete is having the opportunity to visit multiple college campuses and have all your questions about athletics and academics answered. There are two types of visits: official and unofficial. On official campus visits, your transportation to the college, meals, and entertainment are paid for by the university.
Visits From Coaches: College coaches can visit you at school, practice, a game, or in your home when they’re recruiting you. Coaches use these visits to evaluate you and to try to sell their program to you.
Scholarship Offers: For most student-athletes, the scholarship offer comes near the end of the Typically, a coach will call you to extend an offer of athletic aid. Depending on the sport you play and the college that is recruiting you, you can be offered a full or partial athletic scholarship.
Signing the National Letter of Intent: Signing a letter of intent marks the end of the college athletic recruiting process. The letter is an agreement that you will enroll in a certain school in exchange for athletic aid. At this point, coaches have to stop recruiting you, and if any coaches contact you, you have to let them know you’ve signed a letter of intent.
Parts of the process can vary widely depending on your sport and how heavily you’re being recruited, the college athletic recruiting process can vary widely. Top level recruits, especially in the high profile sports of football and men’s basketball, will be sent tons of letters, receive tons of phone calls, and may be offered athletic scholarships before they even enter high school. They won’t have to take much initiative in their recruiting process.