Welcome to Interview #126 with Coach Clay Allen, where Coach Allen talks NAIA Recruiting. Allen is the Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach at McPherson College. McPherson competes in the NAIA.
What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your radar screen? If an athlete personally contacts you by phone or email, what will you do next?
Tennis athletes should reach out to me by my email and type out a description of where they come from, level of play (UTR, USTA ranking, etc.), agency that they are linked with to see if they would be a good fit for our program and the type of program they are looking for.
If an athlete contacts me, I will IMMEDIATELY reach back out to him or her and let them know about myself and the program and try to set up a call and hear more about their story of tennis, what makes our program a special fit for them and try to get them to set up a second conversation or a possible in person visit if they are close enough to travel.
How do academics affect the recruitment of prospective athletes?
Academics complicate things because you have to know your proper student-athlete to go after. I am not going to go after someone who has strong enough academics to get into IVY’s or NESCAC schools because those are probably a proper fit for them.
I want to get an athlete that has a great balance between academics and athletics that is the right tier for us.
Before a recruit starts contacting schools, what do they need to consider to narrow down their options?
A recruit needs to consider:
Size of school.
Major they are going to go into.
Do they want to be in a major city or a major city close by?
These variables are higher for some recruits than others. I believe you need to trim your schools to about 5-6 by the middle end of your junior year. Beginning your senior year apply and find out the right financial situation that will help yourself and your family knowing the tough times we are all in now because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Could you share, in whatever detail you are comfortable with, what the athletic scholarship breakdown looks like on your roster? How many players are typically on your roster and how does this affect how much each player receives?
The average base athletic scholarship on our men’s team is about 5.5k and 6k for our women. Usually, on our roster we have around 10-12 players on the team is what McPherson wants I think that it is a comfortable number on the roster.
How do you find players for your team? What type of student and athlete do you focus on?
In the NAIA particularly if you want to be competitive nationally a school must be heavily based internationally with some American players mixed in.
For the international side, I use a lot of different agencies and links to find players, On the Men’s side, we have strong UTR’s usually from 9.5-11.5. The range for our team and women probably 5-7.5.
For myself and my assistant, we want to help them develop their game more. I want these players to be respectful of their opponents, be relentless workers, and love the game.
Why do you think athletes should consider an NAIA college?
I think athletes should consider NAIA schools because of the level of play. Players always ask me “What level is NAIA like?” I tell them I think some teams in the NAIA can compete with solid Division1 schools, so it is almost a mixture of Division 1 and 2 from a playing standpoint, but also getting a great academic standing as they would in more of a Division 3 aspect.
What is the role of the parent in NAIA Recruiting?
I may differ from other coaches, but I think the player should do most of the talking and reaching out to me, and getting in contact about the school.
I understand when it gets to the financials standpoint and seeing the school, parents want to ask questions and get the feel that their child is going to have the proper experience at McPherson or wherever they go.
How should players determine what collegiate level they can play at?
They have age groups, USTA tournaments, UTR events to play against all sorts of players and levels to see where they fit. Some players may have the ability to play at the Highest major Division 1 level. Some players may be a roster spot on a Division 3 team.
To be honest, there is a college and a roster spot for everyone out there. You just need to commit and find that right place. It may take a while to find it, but when you do, there is nothing else like it.
What would a timeline look like for NAIA recruiting of a typical player?
Some take longer than others. I would say after the first call I would send them links of the school and recap with them about a week later and try to set something up in the future to visit our school.
If they are international, they should apply and do a virtual visit. After that going through the INCRED process, get in transcripts, SAT scores, TOEFL scores, etc. It takes a couple of months to go through it all. I like to recruit both seniors and juniors. I will be reaching out to both, so I can have a good balance between them.
Bonus Question: Is there anything important that you would like to share directly with high school athletes as they navigate the NAIA recruiting process?
Athletes, please do your research beforehand. Don’t let yourself go after a school that doesn’t fit what you specifically want. You want the right coach, the right atmosphere, and academics. It may be a long journey, but it will be well worth it when you are enjoying your time in the classroom when you’re laughing on the courts with your teammates, when you’re learning from your coach, and when you are holding up those championship trophies when it is all said and done.
Here is more great information about NAIA Recruiting.