Posted On: 08/8/19 9:13 AM
I was a boys’ grassroots coach for 15 years, I am now entering my 10th year as a girls’ Varsity Head Coach, and I have done something in the world of recruiting for more than 20 years. Over that span, I have seen athletes commit to schools in a number of different ways. There is no perfect way to do this, but there are certainly some unethical ways commitments have been executed each year. Below is a look at the detailed steps I have always personally recommended to athletes who have asked for guidance. I’m not going to try and convince you this is the only way, but I know in every case I’ve been directly attached to, it has been appreciated by all of the colleges involved.
STEP-1: The thing you ABSOLUTELY need to do first is contact the school you want to commit to. The primary reason for this is to make sure they still have a scholarship available for you. While it hasn’t ever directly affected my athletes, I have heard horror stories about kids calling to commit, only to find out the school they wanted to attend either (1) filled the scholarship that was available with a different prospect, or (2) they decided to revoke the scholarship offer to that specific athlete without communicating that to them.
Additionally, while the college you want to attend would still likely take your commitment, you don’t want the school you plan to commit to finding out through a third party or social media that you are planning on committing to them and not have it come from you directly first. One example I have of this…a few years ago, there was a boy who posted on social media that he was committing to a specific school. Because he was a National Top-100 prospect, online recruiting services called to interview him, and one of those websites even posted an article of the interview online immediately after getting off the phone with that prospect. That same scout then called the college’s Head Coach to congratulate him, but the Head Coach was completely unaware this prospect intended to commit to his program, because the prospect still had not contacted the school or any of the coaches about his intentions. The athlete and the Head Coach finally spoke 45 minutes AFTER it hit social media. The prospect did end up playing there, but that conversation with the Head Coach was likely pretty uncomfortable.
STEP-2: Once you have made your verbal commitment, the next thing you need to do is CALL the other schools who have been actively recruiting you to tell them you have made a commitment. This includes any school who has been in regular contact with you within the last six months, regardless of whether or not they have offered you a roster spot. Now, these phone calls should not be feared but often are. At the end of the day, the coaches who have been recruiting you just want to know your intentions so they can move on. Simply call them, thank them for their time and interest, but politely let them know that you have made a commitment elsewhere. You don’t have to tell them where, but it’s typically customary to let them know. These phone calls tend to be short and sweet, with these coaches telling you “congratulations” or “good luck”, and that’s the end of it. They will be disappointed, as well they should, but they likely won’t take a negative approach with you over the phone. If they do, then you probably don’t want to play for them anyway.
Also, please try to call the Head Coach of schools who have offered you a roster spot. At the end of the day, the Head Coach was the one who decided you were worthy of the scholarship offer. For schools who haven’t offered you a roster spot yet, you may call an Assistant Coach, especially if you have developed a better relationship with that coach. But please CALL and don’t text. Texting is so impersonal, and it’s actually cowardly to a degree. These schools put a lot of time into keeping in contact, coming to watch you, etc. Now, if you’ve tried calling them a couple of times and they haven’t answered, and you’ve left voicemails that they haven’t responded to, it’s okay to text them to ask them to call you at their earliest convenience, but please don’t text them anything about your commitment yet. If they haven’t returned any of your messages within 24 hours, and you have made multiple attempts to call them, then at that point it’s permissible to send them a nice text or email message discussing your commitment.
STEP-3: After you have begun calling the coaches in Step-2, even if you are still waiting for responses from some of them, make a list of family members and friends who are closest to you that you want to know about your commitment before it gets to social media or they read about it in the local newspaper. Basically, just think of who in your life would be upset if they found out about your commitment from someone other than yourself.
In this group of calls should also be your high school Head Coach, your high school teammates (if availability permits), your grassroots coach, and any other coaches or trainers you feel have helped you along the way. BUT, be sure to kindly ask them to keep it private and not put it on social media themselves until you have the opportunity to do so yourself.
At this point, BE PATIENT!!! I know you’ll be anxious and excited, but in most instances, steps 1 through 3 might take 24-48 hours to complete.
STEP-4: Once everyone in steps 1 through 3 is contacted, you can now post something on social media. Keep it simple, let everyone know where you plan to attend, and thank that school for the opportunity to continue your academics and athletics. You’ve already contacted the other schools you said “no” to, so you don’t need to thank them in these posts…it’s kind of like rubbing salt in the wound at this point.
STEP-5: The final step is making sure to contact the media. For your local newspaper, television, and radio station, have your Athletic Director and high school Head Coach help you contact them. Usually they already have a distribution list in their email accounts, and they can just send one bulk email to all media outlets. Some of those media members will likely want a quick interview or quote from you as well. Also, let the school you’ve committed to know that everything is now public. The college and their coaches are not permitted to speak publicly about you as a recruit until you have actually signed your LOI (Letter of Intent), but they might want to put you in touch with a newspaper in their town or a fan website connected to their school. Those people are also journalists and might like to interview you about your commitment.
Feature photo courtesy of videoblocks.com.