Welcome to interview #122 with Coach Nick Dodson, all about getting started with the recruiting process, contact with coaches, and more! We first interviewed Coach Nick in June of 2019. Now he’s back to share with us loads of information and insights about what college coaches want.
Nick is the head coach of Track and Field at Southeastern University. This past indoor season Southeastern Track and Field added 8 All-Americans and a national runner-up performance in the women’s 60m hurdles at the national meet. Nick also won 2020 Women’s South Region Coach of the Year. If you want to learn more about Nick Dodson and Southeastern, click here.
Now, let’s dive into interview #122!
Getting Started With the Recruiting Process
When should you start the recruiting process?
Answer: Athletes should start the recruiting process by at least the start of their sophomore
year in high school. Most athletic teams have a recruiting questionnaire on their website.
Athletes should take advantage and fill out those questionnaires as they are free and don’t
cost you anything. For us, we get those questionnaires in our email and we process them all
by graduating class. We then contact and start building a relationship with those student-
athletes and tell them about our university and our program. Also, athletes should take some unofficial visits to schools they may be interested in and see if they can possibly meet with some staff within their respective sport to ask questions about the program.
Is it valuable to research current college rosters for programs you are interested in?
Answer: I believe it is very valuable for student-athletes to do that. You want to see what the program is doing, where they compete, the caliber of athletes they have on the roster, and the coaches that are leading the program. This will give them an idea if that program is something they are looking for.
When an athlete initially contacts a program, who should they send/direct their emails and calls to? The head coach, or an assistant?
Answer: Everyone on my staff is close and we all know who we are recruiting or what recruits
contact us so we are all on the same page when it comes to the needs of our team. A
student-athlete can contact any of us or email us all for a faster response. We have a
recruiting coordinator who will definitely be in touch within 48 hours from the time contact
has been made unless it is a potential transfer from another institution. From that point, we
will follow our NAIA bylaws before reaching out to that potential transfer.
Ongoing Contact With College Coaches
How often should athlete contact college coaches?
Answer: It depends on the coach honestly. For me, I don’t have an issue with athletes
reaching out to me often on progress and etc. I like seeing the effort from the student-
How can one respond politely to a coach when they don’t want to go to a camp, accept an
Answer: Most coaches look for honesty as we recruit many athletes from all over the country
and outside of the US. We understand that there are many schools to choose from for their
academic and athletic journey. In the end, I want the student-athlete to make the best
decision for them both academically and athletically. If they choose not to accept an offer
from us and go somewhere else, I usually contact those recruits to congratulate them personally on earning the opportunity to move to the next level. It is a very important decision and the first big decision they will make in their lifetime. I always respect that decision as long as they are moving in the direction they want to go to achieve their goals.
If a student makes bad grades one semester, should they send them to college coaches as-is or should they include an explanation?
Answer: We would like to hear from them what happened and why. This gives us a chance to understand what the student-athlete went through and etc as they all have different situations. This also allows us to examine the athlete and situation to see if we want to take a
risk on that particular athlete or not academically.
Coach Nick Answers Your Top Questions
Is it realistic to compete in two sports in college?
Answer: It is realistic depending on the dedication both academically and athletically because
of the amount of time that will go in to each sport and the work required in the classroom.
Since being at Southeastern we have had athletes who have played soccer, run cross country,
and run track all in one season. Those athletes that did this also carried an overall 4.0 GPA
and were All-Americans for us in track. They were successful because they were on a very
structured schedule so that they were in position to be successful in the classroom and in
What is the magic “it” or “wow” factor that makes some recruits stand out above others?
Answer: The “Wow” factor for us is when we get student-athletes who have a very high GPA
and SAT/ACT score. We look at that as a wow factor because the athletes we recruit originally
are very good athletically and have very good performances on the track. We expect to see
that because we know what we are looking for athletically for our team goals. It is not often
we see a student-athlete who has a 3.8 GPA or higher, a very high test score, National Qualifier/All-American potential on the track, and very good character. Sometimes we see athletes who have one or the other. When we see the complete package we look to make a move as they would benefit our program in all aspects.
Should students take both the ACT and SAT, or will just one be enough? Which one is preferable?
Answer: I would take both and get a feel for what is on both test. This will also give them a chance to see which test is better for them. Once they have figured out which one is best for them I would take the test as many times as possible to get the highest score they can. The higher the score the better because they will have a chance to maximize the amount of academic scholarship they can get from the respective school. Nothing better than free aid for students trying to get through college.
Best Advice for High School Athletes
If you could tell athletes one thing about the recruiting process or competing in college, what would it be?
Answer: The recruiting process is what you put into it. Athletes should start early filling out
recruiting questionnaires online as they are free. Coaches actually look at those and
sometimes find what they are looking for as well. There are so many athletes around the
world trying to be recruited so a coach will not always find you. Sending an email, taking
unofficial visits, and more could get you in the door. It is worth it especially if you plan on
only going through the process once.
Also, competing in college can be tough and has its challenges. The important part is getting
on a structured schedule so that you set yourself up for success early. You should know your class schedule, tutoring times if needed, study hall schedule, practice, film sessions, 1 on 1 meetings, competition schedule, fundraising schedule, community service and more.
Procrastination will definitely put you behind the eight ball if you don’t get established early. The better you are off the field, the better you are on the field.
Next, check out Perspectives on Running, Faith, and First-Year Programs
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P.S. If you are unsure about how to get your child on a college roster without spending thousands of dollars, check out The How to Get Recruited Guide. Just $79 to get the confidence you need to get your child recruited.