Welcome to Interview #104
“You can’t fake a good performance in track. Luck doesn’t exist.” Coach Josh Bradley
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NAIA Cross Country and Track & Field Coach, of Bryan College.
Josh Bradley has been the Head Coach for the Bryan College Cross Country and Track and Field teams for four years. He oversees both the men’s and women’s running programs.
Where do NAIA track & field and cross country coaches most often find players for their teams?
I don’t want to speak for all NAIA schools but I know quite a few that recruit locally. This allows coaches to get in contact with athletes quicker and easier. This isn’t the only way I recruit but it allows us to take the time to contact more athletes and be more intentional with the athletes that we know are serious about our program.
Why do you think athletes should consider an NAIA college? What are the benefits of an NAIA school specifically?
Many athletes are worried about the opportunity to face upper level talent in their prospective collegiate sport. Running is different though. There is more cross divisional competition in both cross country and track than most other sports. So when it comes down to it, in our sport it’s better to find a school, coach, or program that matches your needs because you will almost certainly get to compete at the highest level if you have run elite times.
What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your radar screen? If a track athlete personally contacts you by phone or email, what will you do next?
Every school has a recruiting form on their athletics website. Those are the best way to let a coach know you’re interested. I get an email notification the moment one is filled out. I will almost always contact a prospective student within 24 hours of an email or even a recruiting form completion. I will email them and try to find a time we can speak on the phone. Connecting personally is the best way to gauge a student’s interest and effectively answer questions they may have.
Being the track and cross country coach, do you expect your athletes to participate in both sports or should they specialize in college?
I expect distance athletes to compete in both. It’s the only way for them to really be successful in both. With sprinters and field athletes we train throughout the year but most of them just compete in track.
Are track and cross country recruiting all about recorded data? Or is there more to it?
Recorded data (times and performances) certainly makes it easier to find good athletes, especially on the track. I’ve always said you can’t fake a good performance in track. Luck doesn’t exist.
But there is definitely more to it. A runner that is severely under trained or newer to the sport will certainly come into our program and make big improvements quickly. Athletes that are posting solid performance with very little training can have a massive upside, which some college coaches miss because they won’t recruit an athlete until they have run X time or jumped X height.
Could you share, in whatever detail you are comfortable, what the athletic scholarship break down looks like on your rosters?
Bryan puts a premium on high level academic students and athletes. For this reason we have a great tiered academic scholarship program. We have the ability to reward and stack athletic scholarship as well but I am always looking for athletes that have great test scores and GPA’s.
What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?
I try to keep the parents involved to whatever healthy degree they want to be involved. I do remind the student that they will be the ones attending school for the next four years. So don’t just pick a school your parents love, pick a school that you love.
How do you use social media when recruiting? What is your advice to recruits about their use of social media?
We use it quite a bit. I try to keep alumni, fans, and prospective student/athletes updated on our program. All kids need to be aware that anything they put on social media is out there for everyone to see.
What are a few of the most common mistakes that prospective-student athletes make in the college recruiting process?
I see lots of students quickly turn down schools because it is too expensive or doesn’t fit their exact idea what college should look like. This is a mistake. Many schools have lots of scholarship opportunities available and the idea of a “normal college experience” is going by the wayside. Know what you’re looking for, but don’t close the door on what could end up being a great opportunity just because the school doesn’t fit the “college experience.”
Bryan College is a Christian school. Will all religious schools be similar? What are differences that recruits should think about when choosing a religious school?
I have a great opportunity in allowing my faith to drive what I do as a coach. Many religious schools are similar but not all of the schools are the same, just like not all public universities are the same. I have both Christians and non-Christians on my team and I recruit both as well. I am very honest with the values the school holds but I wouldn’t turn an athlete away because of their own personal believes and I hope that our recruits don’t write off a school just because it is religious.
What should players expect from a Christian college athletic experience?
Bryan’s motto is “Christ Above All” and that mindset goes into everything that we do. However, I am very competitive and I want to win. I actually believe those two ideas can go hand-in-hand. Our job is to glorify Christ and what better way to do that than to perform to our fullest.
Can you share a creed, quote or philosophy you try to instill into your athletes?
I always tell my athletes there are only two things that we can truly control, our “Attitude and Effort.”
Bonus Question: Is there anything important that you would like to share directly with high school athletes or Track and Cross Country athletes in particular as they navigate the recruiting process?
Coach Josh Bradley
You can find out more about Coach Bradley and Bryan College Cross Country and Track and Field by clicking here.
Next, check out: How can I get a college coach to notice me?
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