Welcome to Interview #28.
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of Director of Tennis and Head Women’s Tennis Coach of Oklahoma State University, Chris Young.
Chris Young is entering his seventh season as the head coach of the Oklahoma State women’s tennis program.
A native of Norman, Oklahoma, Young has compiled a career record of 276-154, directing the OSU women and the men’s and women’s programs at both Wichita State and his alma mater, Oklahoma Christian. Young now holds an 86-56 record with the Cowgirls. Under Young, the Cowgirls have made four-straight trips to the NCAA tournament and two appearances in the Big 12 finals. In 2015, the Cowgirls made their first appearance in the NCAA Sweet 16 since 1996.
Your roster has a lot of European athletes. We have a growing number of international athletes and coaches reading The Recruiting Code. I would like to ask you a few questions to help international athletes.
What is your recommendation for girls from the U.S. with so much international competition for college roster spots in tennis?
My advice to each player is to set goals for what you want to achieve, have a plan of how you will accomplish those goals, and work daily to become the best you can be. Great players love challenges and I don’t think that our U.S. Players should feel negatively about international competition but just focus on developing their game and letting the process take care of itself.
When a high school tennis player personally contacts you by phone, text or email, what will you do next? When should athletes begin contacting college coaches?
I do my best to always follow up with players to let them know I have received their message. We have a very high standard for our program but I want to help each player to have the opportunity to play college tennis, so I am always happy to pass their info on to other schools if they aren’t a good fit for our program.
What are a few of the most common mistakes that prospective-student athletes make in the NCAA College recruiting process?
I think the most common mistakes are not taking ownership of the process and letting other speak for you or do the work for you. I think it’s really important for athletes to get good advice such as your service but ultimately to become personally engaged in the process and get to know the coaches so they can make the best possible decision.
How do you use social media when recruiting internationally? What is your advice to recruits about their use of social media?
Social media is a very important part of our recruiting both international and with US recruits. It’s the way most athletes use to communicate so it’s my role as a coach to reach them and find the best ways to communicate and get to know them.
My advice would be to understand coaches are watching your social media interaction to learn more about you and everything you post is a reflection of you, so be aware of the impression you are making on potential coaches and universities recruiting you.
How should international players and coaches initiate the college search in the U.S.?
Contact with the coaches to let them know of their interest and goals is the best way.
In today’s world of recruiting there isn’t one perfect way to recruit and find players. I am constantly analyzing the best ways to reach players and find new prospects. I will go anywhere or do whatever is necessary to get to know players better and find the best athletes for our program.
What are some of the hurdles international athletes should be aware of when looking at colleges in the U.S.?
The biggest hurdle is time. Often international prospects don’t realize how long the process can be from registering for the NCAA Eligibility Center, to taking the standardized tests, to the application for admission to the university. All of this has to be done before he visa paperwork can move forward so it’s important to start the process as early as possible and stay focused on deadlines.
What would keep international athletes from realizing their dreams of coming to the U.S. for college?
Nothing should hold them back! The only thing that could is not meeting NCAA Eligibility standards, playing past their six month window, or not getting their paperwork done for admission.
What is the six month window for international athletes?
International players must enter a university within six months after graduation. Sometimes kids don’t know this and play too long. If you graduate in May then you need to at least enter by January.
What is the role of the parent in international recruiting?
The role for parents in the process is to be supportive and help their child be objective and find the best fit. It’s important to help the athlete complete the process.
Are your athletes, who may speak English as a second language, able to succeed in the classroom?
Yes! Our athletes are given many resources through our academic center to be successful in the classroom. It is very important that we help each athlete have the tools necessary to be successful in everything they do and the classroom is a critical component of being a student athlete. Our athletes have access to tutors and advisers who help them reach their potential as students.
Should international students use recruiting services? Are they useful or necessary to find opportunities and scholarships in the United States?
Every situation is different. Recruiting services have many benefits such as helping make contact with coaches and even more important, these services often help with the paperwork which is critical. Some athletes have a very strong resume and coaches are already contacting them but if that is not the case, it’s not a negative to get help getting started.
What do your international athletes typically do when they graduate? Do they stay in the U.S. or return home? Are they successful getting jobs?
I have coached international athletes for over 15 years and have seen my former players do many things. The majority of them at least use their OPT year to get working experience in the U.S. and a lot stay but others take the skills they learn here and go home and create a great life based on their experience here. I believe that the opportunities are unlimited!
This question is just for fun. I coached a player from Ireland a few years ago. We were on a road trip traveling through Oklahoma. We stopped at a gas station and she saw a man wearing a cowboy hat and boots. She was so excited, she ran back on the bus to grab her phone and get a picture of her first Cowboy. I think a lot of Europeans picture the Western U.S. as still full of cowboys. And your tennis players from Europe are now “Cowgirls”. Has that been fun for them?
That’s funny! Our girls were joking just today as we are in California for a tournament about the fact that many people think that only Cowboys live in Oklahoma and we all ride horses.
The fact is we have great businesses in our state and we are a leader in many sectors such as energy, but we are proud of our Cowboys and Cowgirls because they are an important part of our country with the services they provide all of us.
We probably don’t have as many people wearing Cowboy hats as you think but it’s something I’m glad you were able to see and if you look at our mascot Pistol Pete, you will find a fierce looking Cowboy we are all proud to represent!
Bonus Question: Is there anything important that you would like to share directly with international athletes or tennis players in particular as they navigate the recruiting process?
Don’t let the process overwhelm you! Find coaches who you connect with and who take a genuine interest in you as a player and person. There are many opportunities out there so great involved and ask questions and find the opportunity that is right for you. College tennis is an amazing experience that can give you the opportunity to have incredible experiences both academically and as an athlete!
* All pictures courtesy of Oklahoma State University Athletics, Bruce Waterfield.
Chris Young is entering his seventh season as the head coach of the Oklahoma State women’s tennis program. After spending five years as the Wichita State Director of Tennis, Young returned six seasons ago to his home state where he competed as a collegian and began his coaching career.
A native of Norman, Oklahoma, Young has compiled a career record of 276-154, directing the OSU women and the men’s and women’s programs at both Wichita State and his alma mater, Oklahoma Christian. Young now holds an 86-56 record with the Cowgirls.
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