Welcome to Interview #59.
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NCAA Division 1 Track and Field Coach of Florida State University, Bob Braman.
Since taking over in 2004, Bob Braman has seen the Seminoles ascend to a position of national prominence, highlighted by a pair of NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2006 and and 2008.
Entering the 2015-16 season, the FSU men have finished fourth or better seven times at the last 11 NCAA Outdoor Championships and fifth or better six times at the last nine NCAA Indoor Championships.
Simply put, the Seminoles are synonymous with success on the national stage.
Over the course of Braman’s first 12 years, the Seminole men have accepted nine Atlantic Coast Conference indoor and 11 conference outdoor championship trophies, including a sweep of the 2014 titles. In 24 combined team championship opportunities, FSU’s men have 19 ACC championships and five runner-up finishes.
The Florida State women have been building their own impressive ACC resume as well. With their 2016 ACC Outdoor Championships title, the Seminole women have now won four conference titles outdoors, including three under Braman’s watch.
FSU’s excellence has allowed Braman to stockpile a total of 36 national, regional and conference Coach of the Year honors.
Through the relentless efforts of the coaching staff under his direction, the Seminole brand extends well beyond the borders. Twelve student-athletes who competed collegiately for the Seminoles participated in the 2012 London Olympics. It marked the second consecutive Summer Games the `Noles were represented by a dozen Olympians.
Where do Division 1 track and field coaches most often find players for their teams?
D1 Track and Field coaches depend largely upon our national high school lists. We are in a very objective sport where the initial 90+% of recruit filtering takes place by simply using their marks/performances.
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 by you?
I like getting personal e-mails from prospects who know a little about our program and have truly judged whether they’re a good fit (they’re in events that we’re historically good at, they’ve reached our scholarship standards already or are really close, etc). Once again, they’ll get noticed via their actual marks/times.
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 Track and Field it’s fine to either contact the event coach or the head coach. As a head coach I think the key interaction, at least prior to official visits, should come from the event coach who may end up being their coach for the next 4 years. Once we have a recruit that we’re going to offer an official visit to then I as the head coach get involved (speaking to parents, high school coach, etc).
What should athletes look for as far as coaching staff, number of coaches involved? What is important regarding the coaching staff for a good collegiate experience?
Track and field recruiting is all about recorded data, right? Or is there more to it?
Yes, the actual performances/recorded data are huge. Once we get down to 2-3 prospects with similar data then we start to separate based upon physical attributes, mental toughness and durability.
What are a few of the most common mistakes that prospective-student athletes make in the college recruiting process?
One of the biggest mistakes I see of recruits is sending generic e-mails. Don’t send out 100 e-mails and see who bites. Do research and find the talent level that fits yours, as well as schools within your financial capability (in-state for example).
Should prospective athletes bring up scholarships with coaches or wait on the coach to initiate that discussion?
I think coaches will initiate scholarship discussion given time, but never take an official visit without knowing the ballpark range of scholarship that they are going to offer: best case and worst case.
For a Division 1 school, how and when are scholarships offered? How much time do athletes typically have to respond?
We like to offer either on the visit or shortly thereafter (a week or less). Once we offer we want to know where we stand – Top 2 choices, Top 3 choices, etc. We don’t mind waiting for a decision but we’d like to know the timeline.
What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?
I think the parent is very important in the process as they have to feel comfortable with the person/people who are going to be their parents while away from home. We coaches have to accept some of the parenting once the student-athlete arrives on our campus.
What are the short term and long term benefits of being on a collegiate athletic team?
I think the hidden value of Athletics is being the part of a team of 100 people that share your interests and goals in Life and on the Track and Field. You’ve taken a large university and personalized your experience by surrounding yourself with similar-minded people, and people who care about you. Quite often the best friends of your entire life are launched here. The value of that far exceeds the scholarships.
Can you share a story or two about athletes who have gone through your program that have been impacted by their time in the track program?
I can’t relate a specific story but we’ve had dozens of people who never had a chance at college, never had a chance at life, but earned their degrees at Florida State and became wonderful contributors to society and mankind. That unexpected success never gets old to us.
Bonus Question: Is there anything important that you would like to share directly with high school athletes or track and field athletes in particular as they navigate the recruiting process?
Take the initiative and put together a resume. Keep it brief but include personal best times/marks, GPA, SAT and ACT, and little background on your Family, and finally why you want to be considered for a spot at Florida State. It’s like interviewing for a job. No matter how good you think you are, show us the respect our program deserves and understand that it’s an honor to be awarded a scholarship.
Here is a link to an interview Coach Braman did in 2010 with flotrack.org. If you are looking at D1 sports, especially at a major university take the 6 minutes to watch it.
Since succeeding Hall of Famer Terry Long as Florida State’s head men’s and women’s track & field coach prior to the 2004 season, Bob Braman has seen the Seminoles ascend to a position of national prominence, highlighted by a pair of NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2006 and 2008.
Next, take a look An Athletes Simple Start to a College Search.
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