Don’t get left behind. College coach David Kaiser shares great recruiting advice for high school athletes to get noticed by college coaches.
Welcome to interview #120 with Coach David Kaiser! Coach Kaiser is the head coach of XC/Track and Field at UT Tyler. Before starting at UT Tyler in 2019, Coach Kaiser worked as an assistant coach at several colleges including University of Michigan, East Carolina University, DePaul University, and Purdue University. He also worked as the director of athletics and facilities at Milan Area Schools.
David Kaiser’s years of working in various athletic fields have left him with lots of wisdom. And now, he’s ready to share that wisdom with you! Coach Kaiser’s practical recruiting advice will be helpful to athletes of every sport. Let’s dive in!
What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your
radar screen? What are the important steps for an athlete to get noticed
For me, I get a million emails a day. The best thing for a student
to do is to look online and educate themselves on our school and what
the standards are that the school is looking for. If the student has hit those
marks, or is at least close, then send me an email and go online and
complete the questionnaire. For us, that questionnaire info dumps into our
overall compliance software, so this is incredibly helpful.
A lot of recruits get confused by which coach is recruiting them and what
that means? Can you talk about roles and interactions recruits can expect
from assistants and the head coach during the recruiting process?
In today’s landscape, it can be interesting. As the head coach, I make it a point
to talk with all the recruits that we are serious about via phone. However,
with text messaging, I communicate with my key kids quite frequently. I do
give my assistants a lot of “rope” to recruit the kids in their specific event areas. Then when it gets to a point that we want to invite them to campus and/or make an offer, it is a staff discussion. In the end, we are trying to build a TEAM, so a balanced program is key.
There is a perception that “Going D1” is the best option for athletes. You have been at the upper crust of Division 1 schools (Michigan) and are now at an incredible Division 2 school (UT Tyler). Can you speak to kids and their parents about choosing the right school?
It comes down to the experience the kid wants. The D1 experience is great, but the pressure to perform is
real. Depending on the specific school, it may be greater at some than others, but the pressure is real. I have pressure at UT-Tyler as well, but it is because I want us to be a contender in the conference, as well as have a national presence. Coaches spend way too many hours away from our loved ones to
not want that…in my opinion.
So, it is important to find a school that fits their goals and objectives, and an experience that they will find fulfilling. I make sure that recruits and prospects spend time with our current student-
athletes so they can speak freely and not feel like they are in an interview
process. I tell our kids to be honest and open because I do not want a
recruit to commit to us, get here, and find out that they were sold a bag of
What are a few of the most common mistakes that prospective-student
athletes make in the college recruiting process? What recruiting advice can you give them?
Not being honest with where their abilities truly are. We are a D2 school that is transitioning from
D3. This means that the competition is getting tougher and our recruiting
scope has increased as well. Kids need to remember also that the
recruiting process is a two way street. When coaches reach out to you,
respond in a timely fashion. The student-athlete would expect that from a coach if they
were interested, so be punctual and responsive.
Should prospective athletes bring up scholarships with coaches or wait on
the coach to initiate that discussion?
I would say this:
IF a student and their parents are making their decision based off of money, get out in the
open and deal with it. I tend to like to talk to the student, get to know
them, what they like, how they train, etc. It is important for me to find out
in this process whether I think our personalities will work well together,
and if they will fit into the culture of our team. If not, then I don’t care
how good they are and the scholarship isn’t even an issue for me.
In the end, at least for me, I will offer what I believe they are worth to our team
within the financial means I have available. I also do not believe in
negotiating the scholarship. I make the offer and when they get on campus
and take care of business, on and off the track, I make sure to reward the
students already in the program first before going after others.
For a Division 2 school, how and when are scholarships offered? How much
time do athletes typically have to respond?
I do not really see a difference in the way I do things now from what I did in at the D1 level. We have our
signing dates and such, but I make the offer when I feel it is appropriate. If
I offer a kid that I think is special and a great fit for our program, I will wait
it out until I believe that we won’t get him and then I will move on. Others I
may offer them and give them a week or so if I have more kids like them.
For example, if I am recruiting three 400m guys that have ran 47.5, 48.3 and
48.9, I may offer the fastest kid and give him 10 days or so before I offer all
or some of that money to the others. If the fast kid accepts it first, then
the other kid’s money is gone. If not, then I will take the others and the 47.5
kid is out. Scholarship money is fluid and coaches are looking to fill their
teams, so although a student may have an offer, good chance that money is
also being offered to others as well.
What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?
It is their child and their role is to gather information to help their child make an informed decision,
and to have the money discussion.
What are the differences between competing on the track at the high
school or club level and the college level? What do incoming freshmen
need to be prepared for?
I think this is a critical question that kids AND parents need to understand. College coaches are evaluated on a number of items including team success in the class room and in the competition
arena. THIS IS OUR JOB. Not a part time gig where we get a stipend, get to
supplement our teaching job, or whatever. The time commitment and level
of expectations are much higher, and they will be pushed. There is a
process that they have to learn to navigate.
The other thing is that nearly every kid on a college team, regardless of level, what “All-Something” – All
League, All District, All Regional, All State, All American, etc. Check it at the
door when you get to college, because truly, no one cares and until they
prove themselves at the top of whatever level they are competing at, they
Can you share a creed, quote or philosophy you try to instill into your
I love motivational quotes and philosophies, but I am not sure that I have one honestly. I just want our kids to embrace the process, try to be better than you were the day before and grow as much as possible spiritually, emotionally and physically.
And, to look out for each other. It is tough growing up these days with all the distractions, technology and things going on. I want them to simply be the best they can be each and every day. Just keep getting up!
Bonus Question: Is there any other important recruiting advice that you would like to share directly with high school athletes or track and field athletes in particular as
they navigate the recruiting process?
I have mentioned them already.
- Be honest about your abilities and where you think you will fit.
- It is a two way street. Coaches know that they are not the only school you are
considering, and you need to understand that you are not the only athlete
being looked at by the coaches, so communicate.
- They should be clear on the level of performance they want to achieve. I have recruited kids
that have told me they want to run at the NCAA’s and try to win a national title, but they have no idea what the performance levels are like at that level.
Just remember, the percentage of students that will go on to make a living
in the sport of track and field is probably less than 1%. Work hard. Learn all
the soft skills you can by being on a team, the experience, the benefits of
giving all you have to something bigger than yourself. Then be a
productive member of society while being great moms, dads, doctors,
maintenance workers, or whatever. Be happy.
Read more about Coach David Kaiser: David Kaiser Bio
Next, check out: Are You D1 or D2 Caliber?
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P.S. If you want to give your child the opportunity to play in college, without spending thousands of dollars or missing the best opportunities, check out The How to Get Recruited Guide. Just $79 to give your child a life-changing opportunity.