Your sophomore daughter has faithfully been attending Showcases with her volleyball team. Her club coach has been telling you college coaches are watching, but after a couple of Showcases no coaches have called. No one has emailed. You’re all starting to feel discouraged. She’s wondering if she has what it takes to be a college athlete after all.
And then it happens. The Monday after the latest Showcase, your daughter receives an email like this one. Your family dances like kids in the kitchen when your daughter reads you the email off her phone.
I’m Jane Smith, the assistant coach at State University. We are looking for a 2021 MB and after watching you in several matches at Southern Showcase, I love how dynamic and athletic you are and think you could have a great future here, at State University.
I’m sure you’ve probably just begun your recruiting process, but I’d love the opportunity to speak with you about our program and your college interests. You’re definitely on our radar as a top 2021 MB and we will continue to follow you throughout your club season.
All the best,
Assistant Coach Jane Smith
You collect yourselves after the initial excitement, and your spouse says what you are all thinking:
“What is our next move? Does she email the coach? Call her? Do we? We are so excited but want to do things the right way!”
You have so many questions and feelings about the email. What should you do next? You certainly don’t want to mess up your daughter’s opportunities.
Let’s break down this email and what it means, because if your son or daughter has the talent to play in college you will receive emails like this one. What you do next is vitally important.
Is this a real email from a college coach?
First, you’re wondering if this is a real email from a college coach. Is it sincere? Did this coach really see your child play? Do they really want your kid to play for their program?
When your athlete receives this kind of email, the coach most likely did see them at a Showcase. The coach also saw a hundred other athletes that day. At each Showcase, coaches are watching as many athletes as they can. Sometimes multiple coaches from the same college attend a showcase. They split up, watch half a match, then move on to the next one. Doing this, they can see an enormous number of potential recruits in a single day.
Coaches are looking for athletes they believe can play at their level. At each match (and remember, they saw a lot of matches) coaches note every athlete who could be competitive in their athletic program. Then the coaches return home and try to contact as many of those potential recruits as possible. Coach Smith (in the example above) probably sent a similar email out to quite a few athletes. She may have sent it to dozens or even a hundred other athletes from the Showcase.
The coaching staff is attending numerous Showcases and they are sending out emails like this one after each weekend.
The email is real, but it is only one of hundreds of “real” emails coaching staffs send out in a year.
The good news
The good news is that the coach thinks your athlete could probably make their roster. Of course, in an email from a college coach we can’t tell where on the roster your child will be. Are the coaches considering your child for a starting position or bench player? We don’t know. But at least they can make the roster, that’s a good start!
The bad news
An email from a college coach doesn’t mean you’re anything special – at least, not yet. In the example above State University is casting a wide net looking for girls. They are not just interested in a handful of sophomores.
Imagine the recruiting process from the college coaches’ perspective. They have a limited number of roster spots to fill. The trick is to fill those roster spots with the best talent available. Yet not everybody the coaches recruit will want to attend their school. The better the talent, the more schools are recruiting that player.
College coaches are playing a numbers game. The college cannot just pick 10 athletes and expect to sign all of them. So, what do they do? They look at hundreds or even thousands of athletes at their level, and plan on getting a handful of them.
This means you are one of hundreds that gets an email like this. You’re nothing special yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be eventually.
The coach’s perspective
Now imagine the Showcase weekend from the coach’s perspective. They are sitting in the stands holding their Showcase book with rosters for every game that will be played that day. They are making quick evaluations of players because there are hundreds of athletes to see over the weekend.
When the coaches find athletes they believe are playing at a level that would improve their college team, they circle the name and jot down a few notes about the player. By the end of the weekend, they have a lot of names circled.
Back in the office on Monday, it is time to send out the emails. They are fishing to see which athletes are interested in their program. If you don’t respond, no big deal for the coach. They will scratch you off the list and move on.
However, if you do respond, you are now on the radar of the coaching staff and the recruiting process can proceed.
How to respond
Now you know what the email from a college coach means. You know you should respond so you don’t get scratched off the list. But how should you respond? What should you say? Here is how I would suggest responding to an email like this one.
Begin by researching the school, the athletic program, and the area. Is it a place that your child would want to attend? If not, don’t bother going any further.
If you and your child are on the fence about the school, not sure if they would be interested in it, go ahead and respond to the email. By responding you’ll begin the recruiting process with this program. There’s no commitment at this point. You can see what develops with this school. And you have time to see what other programs might contact you.
Send an email
After doing research, if you and your athlete are still interested:
1. Have your athlete (NOT YOU) reply to the email within the next few days.
The email should be personal. It should thank the coach for taking the time to watch them play. It should also include a couple of sentences about why they are interested in going to this school, and a couple of personal notes about the college team.
With the email, have your child include their player profile and a list of future showcases they will be at.
2. Follow up about three days later with a phone call if you haven’t heard back. The coaches can answer the phone and talk. However, (depending on the division) they cannot return phone calls. Considering that, you should leave a voicemail. Here is a sample of what to say, “Hi, this is (name). I wanted to make sure you got my email. State University is a program I would love to play for. I look forward to hearing from you and getting to know you over the next couple of years. Please let me know what else you need me to do.”
When you leave a voice mail, whether you hear back from them immediately or not, you have taken a big step to show them you are genuinely interested in competing for their program.
Recruiting is all about relationships
Recruiting is all about being personal and developing relationships with coaches. Coaches offer roster spots and scholarships to players who they both like and have a relationship with. With each school your child is interested in, they need to continue reaching out and working on the relationship, even if it feels one-sided at first.
- When you receive an email from a college coach it means nothing more than that your child is good enough to play at their program. They are fishing.
- Before you respond, research the college and see if it is a place your child might like to attend.
- If you are interested, it’s time for your child to begin building a relationship with the coach. Have your child email the coach, then follow up with a phone call if they don’t get a response.
Hopefully this helps you understand what that email you got means and how to respond to it. Here are a couple final thoughts.
Don’t limit yourselves
Don’t stop with coaches who reach out to your family. If you limit yourselves to schools where the coaches reach out to you, you will miss out on the best school for your athlete.
Help your child find schools they would like to attend and start reaching out to those coaches and developing relationships. Coaches don’t even know your child is alive. Athletes must put themselves on the radar. To reiterate, the best school for your teen may be one that doesn’t reach out. Don’t miss valuable opportunities by limiting yourselves!
Who gets recruited?
Your child is on a good club team and goes to Showcases. But if they stop at this, they will likely be disappointed and miss out on the best opportunities. It is up to your child, and their persistence off the court, to get recruited. Nobody can do it for them.
Who are the best players on the team? The athletes who work hard consistently over the years.
Who gets recruited? The athletes who have talent? Yes, but there are a lot of talented athletes coming out of high school, who are vying for a limited number of college roster spots. Depending upon the sport, approximately 3-7% of high school athletes end up playing in college. Check out this article by the NCAA to see the numbers for each sport.
This means a lot of very talented athletes don’t make college rosters.
So, who gets recruited? Student-athletes who:
- Are persistent in marketing themselves to college coaches
- Develop relationships with college coaches
- Have good grades and test scores
- Have great attitudes
- Talent – but it isn’t what separates those who make it and those who don’t. The separation comes through the other four traits.
I know you want the best for your kids and you’ve worked hard for years to get them to this point. However, when it comes to recruiting college coaches want to build a relationship with your athlete, not you. Have your child read this article, then help them follow the advice. Your child can play in college, they just need to get after it!
By the way, I would like to hear your story about receiving an email from a college coach. If you follow my advice above, let me know the results. I am excited for you and would love to know what happens!
LIKE WHAT YOU READ?
Here is another great article for high school and club coaches: How College Coaches Find Players
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