Archive for April, 2012

Finding the Right Fit and Being Realistic in Your Choices

By:Natalie Pedersen

Many student-athletes know they want to participate in athletics in college but are unsure where to start. The biggest advice I can give right off the bat is to keep your options open. Remember, it’s all about playing the numbers game:

The more colleges you reach out to = The more relationships you’ll build with college coaches = The more opportunities you could receive = More offers might be extended to you and ultimately = The more leverage you’ll have to negotiate scholarship money.

Finding the right college is important, not just so you pick the right team, but so you enjoy your college life and receive a good education. Also, don’t forget picking a college is not just about four years of your life; it’s a decision that will affect the next forty years!

To find the right fit, start by asking yourself some of the easier questions, such as if you want to try to stay local or are open to playing anywhere in the country. The more open you are to travel, the better your chances will be of finding a college who will want to recruit you and that fits all of your needs and wants.

Do you know what you want to major in yet? If not, that’s ok. But if so, then make sure the colleges who are recruiting you offer your major. Your education should take priority over athletics, so if a school is recruiting you and they don’t offer your major, then you should research your other options.

What size school would you prefer? Do you want a large school or are smaller class sizes more appealing to you? Do you know what division level you want to play for, but more importantly, that you would be qualified to play at?

First, think about NCAA versus NAIA. Some NAIA schools are very competitive and could compete with NCAA schools, so remember that when you’re weighing your options. NAIA schools also have a tendency to be less-restrictive and generally less-expensive.

As for NCAA, decide what division level you could realistically be eligible to play for, and not just which level you want to play for. This is the most important tip I can give you when going through the recruiting process and reaching out to colleges. If your dream is to play DI and you’re only reaching out to DI coaches, then you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities. Only a small percentage of student-athletes are top level athletes who will qualify for DI athletics. If you’re not hearing back from top DI schools, then it’s time to face the facts. You might not be eligible to play at that level.

Now it might be really disappointing to find out that you’re not a top recruit and won’t be playing with the Andrew Lucks and RG3s of the college world, but at least now you can be honest with yourself and realize that you should be reaching out to college coaches at the level at which you will be a top recruit on those coaches’ lists. Try researching schools on the Division II and III levels and see if you get more responses from those coaches. If so, then at least you found a place where your athletic ability will be a match with your teammates and your competitors. If not, then you might be going about your recruiting process all wrong and I suggest you receive some additional help.

Call NCSA at 866-577-6272 if you wanted to get started on the recruiting process!

Many athletes think DIII athletic programs are not very competitive, but that is a myth! Some high level DIII programs are more competitive that low-level DI programs. So, keep your options open…and not just when thinking about division level, but when thinking about size and location of a school as well. Remember, the more opportunities you have, the more offers you might get, which means more leverage to negotiate scholarship money. So, play the numbers game, and good luck!

How do you overcome a lack of exposure as a student athlete?

A majority of student athletes think that college coaches will just come to them. However most of the time that is not the case, unless an athlete is in the top 100 in the country, finding a college that is right for you will be up to you. A large problem is that student athletes do not realize that college coaches do not have the time or resources to find student athletes. It is the student athletes job to stay proactive,and reach out to coaches themselves. Start by emailing coaches, filling out questionnaires and calling. Depending on your age and NCAA rules coaches may  not be able to contact you back, but it is never too early for you to start reaching out to them.Make sure to get your information online both academic and athletic reusmes should be posted with verified information,

Do you need more help in the recruiting process?

Call us at 866-577-6272 or visit us at

Negative Impressions Could Cost Your Recruitment

By: Natalie Pedersen

Student-athletes don’t realize that athletic ability alone is not enough to get recruited, and this applies to ALL colleges. Yes, athletic ability is important, as well as strong academic scores, but there is one more key element that is important and should not be overlooked: making a good impression on a coach. Not just a good first impression, but a lasting impression that continues each time you not only talk to a coach, but anytime a coach hears or sees your name. What do I mean by that? Read on, my friends.

First, let’s start with the less obvious ways to make a good impression on a coach, or rather, how to avoid portraying a negative image to a coach. All of your social media pages are public and can be viewed by coaches at any time. This means you should not have any pictures or posts portraying yourself in a negative manner. “Sure, they understand that you are just a teenager,” says one former Division I Recruiting Assistant. “But, anything vastly inappropriate can greatly diminish the chances of a certain coach recruiting you.”

Another former Division I coach says “everything an athlete does is under a microscope,” meaning you never know where or how a coach will evaluate your character and determine if you are a fit for their team. “No one wants a bad apple dragging others down with them.”

You can also make a good impression on a coach through your letters and emails. Show the college coach that you are smart and a good student by having good grammar and writing skills. Remember, you are not sending a text to your best friend, so use complete sentences and pretend you are writing a thesis paper for your favorite teacher that accounts for 100% of your grade.

Next, take a minute to think about any phone conversations that you’ve had with college coaches. Did you present yourself in a professional manner? If you haven’t talked to any coaches on the phone yet, then think about how you can make a good impression every time you do. First, be prepared when you call coaches by knowing what questions you’re going to ask. Don’t call from a cell phone unless you know you’re going to have a good reception, and make sure there isn’t any background noise that could interfere with your conversation. You don’t have many opportunities to talk to coaches, so take advantage when you get them!

You should also be prepared to receive calls from coaches. Make sure you know the NCAA rules about making and receiving calls and know when the date comes that college coaches can start calling you! Have a list of questions you want to ask near the phone at all times. If for some reason you can’t talk at the time the coach calls, schedule a specific time that you can call the coach back. And, if you miss a phone call from a coach, make sure you have a professional and appropriate voice mail message. This is a key element that many student-athletes miss and one that could hurt your image if your voice mail is inappropriate in any way.

Now, what about talking to coaches in person? Whether you meet a coach at a camp, on an unofficial or official visit, or in your own home, you should always look presentable and act respectful. Shake the coach’s hand, use “Sir” or “Ma’am” when addressing them, and don’t swear. If you’re attending a college camp, make sure you come prepared with your own equipment because this is something coaches will notice.

As one former DI college coach puts it, just being respectful is still not enough. “Those who ask the coach questions will make a more lasting impression. Keep in mind that coaches are having the same conversation over and over with hundreds of prospects, so a little back-and-forth [sport] talk with a student-athlete who looks you in the eye and knows what he’s talking about will truly help that coach remember who you are in the future.”
In one article from the South Bend Tribune, Head Football Coach Pat Fitzgerald from Northwestern University talked about the professionalism of his coaching staff which can also be applied to recruits.

He said “At one of our first staff meetings, [Athletic Director Jim Phillips] said, ‘The “N” never comes off. That’s the guiding principle. In other words, NU coaches represent the school seven days a week, 365 days a year. If you don’t operate that way, you’re making a huge mistake.”
So, think about how you can impress coaches and put your best foot forward at all times. Prove to each college coach that you will be a good representation of their college and will wear their colors with pride.

How Should I Dress For A College Visit?

Summer is almost here! Between summer ball and athletic camps most student athletes will probably be pretty busy, however summer can be a great time for student athletes to take a few unofficial recruiting visits.Unofficial visits can be a crucial part of the recruiting process, student athletes needs to see every aspect of a school before they decide that a school is right for them. Athletic aspects such as the facilities, the coaching staff and the team are all important but all those things can change during your career. Athletes should also look at the academic aspect of the university, do they have your major? Are the professors good? What is the professor to student ratio? Past even academics unofficial visits can be a great time for student athletes to see the culture of the campus, does a big campus feel right or would the athlete feel better at a smaller school? Is it a college town or a big city ? It can be hard for student athletes to make such a major life decision such as choosing their college at the age of 16,17,18 years old, therefore researching and visiting the very best option for that athlete is important. A common question that athletes ask before taking a visit is “what should I wear?”. This is a crucial part of the visit, below Coach Bob Chmiel thirty year college coaching veteran explains why!

If you need more help in the recruiting process call NCSA at 866-577-6272 or visit NCSA at

What is Your Dream?

By: Natalie Pedersen

I read a book recently called the Dream Manager and learned how motivating people to dream can make them better workers. So, what does this have to do with me, you ask? Well, the point is that anyone can benefit from dreaming and working to achieve their dreams. And student-athletes striving to play sports in college must have tons of dreams! Do you know what all of your dreams are?

In the Dream Manager, the first step towards achieving your dreams is to start writing them down. Get a Dream Book or just write your dreams on post-its and post them around your room, on your textbooks and in your locker. Whatever strategy you use doesn’t matter, just as long you write them down and keep adding more dreams every day.

Some of your dreams can be athletic, such as making the Varsity team or playing at a Division One college. But, other dreams can be focused on school, such as graduating with honors, or family, such as teaching your little brother how to throw a ball and become a Division One athlete as well. You can also have dreams related to your character. Having a good personality will appeal to college coaches and increase your chances of being recruited.

Simply writing down your dreams isn’t enough, though. You have to keep looking at them and reminding yourself of your goals. Then, of course, pursue them and make them happen!  Start with something small and attainable, such as increasing your GPA by .2 points or developing relationships with five new college coaches. Work your way up to the more difficult goals such as making the Varsity team as a freshman or playing for the best club team in your area. Eventually, as you achieve more of your dreams, the farthest-reaching dreams will start to seem more attainable, such as being a starter for the Crimson Tide.

The idea of the Dream “Manager” is having someone who will help keep you accountable for achieving your dreams, such as your parents, coaches or siblings. Don’t rely on them to push you. But, if you tell someone your dreams, they can help by reminding you to push harder in practice, take an extra 10 minutes to study each night or remind you to follow up with the coach from Alabama.

Now, remember that little brother who you wanted to teach to throw and who wants to be just like you? Part of the Dream Manager initiative is being a leader and advocate of other people’s dreams as well as your own. Even if you don’t have a brother, maybe you have a friend who also wants to play sports in college. You can help keep other people accountable for achieving their dreams by just checking in with them once in a while about their progress towards reaching their dreams. Ask your friend how many college coaches he/she has been in touch with. Push your sibling to go out in the backyard with you to practice for an hour, even though he’d rather be playing video games. Remember, being someone else’s Dream Manager can improve your character, and do you remember what I said earlier about character?

Whether you are a freshman or a senior, it’s never too late to start dreaming of your future. But to be successful in achieving your dreams, let me leave you with two tips. First, a dream is not just a goal. It’s something your passionate about and desire. You have to have passion for your dreams otherwise you won’t work hard to achieve them. Second, you need to do some planning. Think about which dreams you can achieve right away and which might take some work. Playing sports in college will take a lot of time, effort and planning in order to research colleges, build relationships with coaches, get noticed and get recruited. Hey, no one said achieving your dreams would be easy!

The Dream Manager was written by Matthew Kelly

A Lack of Exposure in the Recruiting Process

A majority of student athletes think that college coaches will just come to them. However most of the time that is not the case, unless an athlete is in the top 100 in the country, finding a college that is right for you will be up to you. A large problem is that student athletes do not realize that college coaches do not have the time or resources to find student athletes. It is the student athletes job to stay proactive,and reach out to coaches themselves. Start by emailing coaches, filling out questionnaires and calling. Depending on your age and NCAA rules coaches may  not be able to contact you back, but it is never too early for you to start reaching out to them.Make sure to get your information online both academic and athletic resumes should be posted with verified information, along with your professionally edited highlight tape!

Do you need more help in the recruiting process?

Call us at 866-577-6272 or visit us at

Disecting Coach Communications

Camp Brochures

While receiving a camp invitation is great, it is important to take it with a grain of salt. A majority of the time a camp invitation is a mass mailing, if it is a generic brochure or a generic form letter then you are not being invited as a “recruit”. This does not mean that you shouldn’t attend, camps are a great place to learn technique from great coaches! If you receive a hand written note , along with the camp brochure website this usually means that you are being recruited by the coach and he wants to see you play. It is important to note that if you have several camp invites sometimes it is better to go to five of them for one day instead of one for five days.  As well camps are not the place to go to get noticed, it is important to remember that a majority of the time if a coach is recruiting you at a camp they have already identified you as a recruit.

Questionnaires/ Form Letter

Questionnaires and form letters are great, especially early on in the process middle school through sophomore year you should be receiving hundreds of these types of letters because division one and division two coaches cannot contact you in a personal way.  While questionnaires are important in the recruiting process they do not indicate any high level of interest, coaches initially send out thousands of questionnaires to student athletes around the country and the world, and will only hand out a handful of scholarships. Always fill out the questionnaires its how you stay on recruiting lists, and could potentially receive more personal mail in the future.

Personal letters

Personal letters usually come around your junior year, now there are two main things to identify when you receive personal mail, whether or not it is hand written or typed and who is the letter from. If the letter was hand written that means more than if the letter is typed, and if it is from the head coach then it means more than if it came from the assistant coach or position coach. Any type of personal mail is a good indication that you are being recruited, especially if it is coming frequently, however it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are being recruited heavily. One recruit from Alabama received 105 letters on the same day from University of Alabama’s football program, that is someone who is really being recruited!


Receiving an email is very similar to a letter, you need to identify whether or not the email is personal or a mass mailing. If it is a personal email again it is very similar to a personal letter it shows a decent amount of interest in you as a potential recruit. However because email has become easier and easier for coaches to use and send in mass quantities you can’t read too much into email. If the emails are coming on a regular basis with personal information about you then this is a good indicator the coach is very interesting in you.

    Phone Calls

    Every sport and every division  is a little different but junior/senior year is when the phone calls should begin to come from college coaches. If you are not being called after your junior year, it might be time to reevaluate what schools you are targeting. College coaches won’t be calling for one of two reasons, either you are not on their list and they do not know about you or they know about you and are not looking to recruit you. Make sure you are accurately able to identify which is the reason you are not receiving phone calls. When a coach does call you make sure you are actively engaged in the phone call, don’t have the TV on or any other distractions. Write down a list of questions and be prepared to ask them about their school, also be prepared for the coaches to ask you about things from athletics to academics to  social life.Regular phone calls are a very good indicator that you are being recruited but this school, while its not absolute chances are they will be offering you a visit.


    There are two types of offers in the world of recruiting, official and unofficial. To gauge a coaches level of interest with an unofficial visit is fairly easy, did the coach invite you? How are they acting? Have they set up a tour of the campus? Are they making time to see you? If you answered yes to all of the above then the coaches interest in you is fairly high. If you answered no to any of the above it might be time to look at other schools and evaluate your interests. Official visits are a little different, if a coach has invited you on an official visit chances of you receiving a scholarship offer are very high. Very rarely will an athlete be offered an official visit and not receive a scholarship offer.


    The offer of  a scholarship is the most absolute form of communication that a coach is interested in you! The only step is now in your court to either accept or decline, make sure you lay out all of your decisions and chose the right school both academically and athletically!

    Offical Visits 101

    NCSA’s resident recruiting expert Randy Taylor always says that everything a coach says and does means something. College Coaches will show their interest in you in many different ways through questionnaires, through emails , through phone calls, visits and offers. Each type of communication means something different as far as their interest level in you as a potential recruit and one of the most telling signs that a coach is interested in you is the invitation to take an official visits. Besides receiving a verbal or written scholarship offer the official visit means that a large majority of the time you will be receiving the scholarship offer.

    What is an official visit?

    An official visit is a visit to a college campus by a student and a parent, the student athletes expenses will be covered by the college.

    What Should an Athlete Bring on an official visit?

    The student athlete should ask the coach what they should bring to the offical visit. It is important to note that the student athlete needs to send a copy of his transcripts to the school before taking the official visits and be registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center.

    What should student athletes know before going on the official visit?

    Student athlete need to be prepared to answer questions from the coaches. Coaches will ask a lot of different questions, from your level of play to who else is recruiting them. Remember to talk about the bigger schools or schools on the same level that are recruiting you as well, this will only help the student athlete increase their scholarship opportunities and have the leverage to do so.

    Student athletes should also be prepared to ask questions themselves. An official visit should be taken very seriously by the student athlete, this is their time to decide if this could be the right school for them, if they could see themselves there. Make sure to ask all the right questions, from academics to college culture to athletics. Walk around the campus, meet the professors, make sure to imagine yourself walking around that campus for the next four years.

    Know the Rules

    You can only take 5 total official visits if you want to play at the division one level so make sure you aren’t taking more than that between division one and division two. Also remember that because you only get five, choose wisely make sure those are really the schools you want to visit on an official capacity.

    Good Luck!