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?
Personally, contacting a coach is always a great way to get noticed. With social media and numerous recruiting platforms popping up, there are several ways to contact coaches. Most feel more comfortable sending emails and a well-written email is a professional way to reach out.
We receive a lot of emails weekly from players looking for their future home. A personal email is always recommended. Knowing that you’ve done your research on the school, the roster, and the area is always beneficial. That attention to detail in the email will enable you to stand out, and a touch of your personality included in the email is always good!
Once we hear from players, we tend to do a little research first and then see if they have any film, or a recruiting profile, if it isn’t already attached to their email. We have obviously been doing a lot of virtual meetings this year with recruits due to COVID-19 restrictions, and often I will bring my players in too, as they are the stars of the program. I encourage my players to talk to recruits and vice-versa. Our players live and breathe the program, so I think it’s extremely important for them to explain to potential players what to expect from a day in their lives.
We also convey that we are here to help each student-athlete on their journey and if our college is not what they are looking for after we have had a few conversations, then we are always going to try and continue to help them in any way we can!
How do you find players for your team? What type of student and athlete do you focus on?
We find players in various ways. The boom of recruiting websites obviously helps with finding players across the country and beyond, but we also go to a lot of tournaments to see players competing. We also talk to a lot of coaches at all levels, and we receive a lot of promotions of players from their coaches and/or agents.
First and foremost, we always look for good students, or players that we feel can represent the program well in the classroom and the community as well as on the field. Creative players obviously will always stand out, but we look for various types of players. The ability to play in numerous positions is often a coach’s dream, but I also tend to look at how players conduct themselves in team huddles, how they motivate and communicate with their team, and how they interact with coaches and officials.
How should a recruit prepare an introductory email that will be read by and useful to a college coach?
It is always beneficial to do a little research on each College and the team itself. I think recruits and coaches are all a little put off by generic emails so anything that shows you have looked into the team will always be appreciated. Including any kind of footage is also highly appreciated, as well as a personal touch. I really enjoy getting emails that also tell me a little about the student-athlete, anything that makes you stand out from everyone is definitely memorable!
How important are 3rd party recruiting companies for you in finding athletes?
Recruiting websites are a helpful tool in finding players. For players, we are unable to find at showcases, or for us to find players that were not previously on our radar, they are an asset. There are some great companies out there that truly help the student-athlete find the right fit for them!
We also use a recruiting website that allows us to showcase our players to 4-year colleges, so for us, it is a bonus in all respects. We use it as a recruitment tool for our players so that we can promote them directly to the 4-year coaches that may not be able to see their games in person.
Since COVID, two of our top five most popular articles at The Recruiting Code are now related to Junior Colleges. Have you noticed a difference in your recruiting at Motlow State?
With the restrictions placed on everyone since the pandemic started, I think we all saw a difference. Most athletes started to be open to the idea of different levels, or at least open to hearing about opportunities at all levels. I have had numerous conversations with players this year that ended up committing to prestigious programs, about the benefits of the Junior College route. Especially early into the pandemic, we did see a noticeable difference in just how many players were open to all levels and sizes of schools. I have also had many players who ended up signing elsewhere, recommend us to their teammates. We have talked with more club coaches who are trying to give their players options. The effect of the pandemic, recruitment-wise, is something that I feel will continue to have a trickle-down effect for the next few years!
Why do you think athletes should consider a Junior College? What are the benefits of a community college specifically?
I may be slightly biased, but I believe there are many benefits to the Junior College route. Playing time is a big factor for a lot of players, they recognize that at other colleges their playing time may be limited due to several players being ahead of them in terms of experience. Most players at Junior Colleges are 18-20 so you are not competing with the 3rd or 4th (even 5th now!) returning players that have previously cemented their position in the team. Many freshmen get considerable playing time at the JUCO level which I believe is important for their development.
Many of our players have had offers from elsewhere but chose to join us because of finances. A lot of Junior colleges can offer good scholarships and those particular players have received offers from 4-year schools that have been decidedly lower than ours.
The fact that players can complete their pre-requisites at Junior colleges often for a cheaper cost is a factor for some of our athletes too.
Students often benefit from learning in smaller classes, with more individual attention. This has undoubtedly been a factor for some of our players. Not everyone is ready to step into a large school environment academically, the smaller class sizes allow our players to flourish and continue to maintain or raise their GPA which often results in a better scholarship at their next College.
What are some myths or misconceptions about junior colleges?
The biggest misconception, I believe, is that the level of play at Junior College schools is sub-par. There are some phenomenal players at this level. Just this year we have had 3 players that had offers from D1 schools that chose to attend Motlow simply because it was a better fit. When colleges from different levels compete against each other it’s often the case that any level can beat another. It is definitely no coincidence that the national tournament at the Junior College level is always well attended by 4-year coaches as they know the players have proven themselves at a good level and our players are always highly sought after by 4-year college coaches.
How does your school help players transition to a four-year college? When looking at a junior college, what are some questions student athletes should ask about the help they will receive to get into a four-year school and to continue playing?
We consider it a big part of our job to help our student-athletes find their next home, whether it be for soccer or otherwise and we take great pride when our players feel confident and happy with their next step! Our job is ultimately to prepare them for the next level, whether that be through soccer training, the classroom, how to communicate with peers, coaches, and teachers, or how to maintain a busy schedule and succeed! Quite often we are preparing them for the rest of their lives, not just their college career. This is a responsibility and a privilege that we take very seriously!
Can you share a success story of athletes who came through your junior college program and then went on to a four-year school?
Since the beginning of the program, we have had numerous players that have played here and gone on to 4-year colleges. Success to us comes in many different forms. We have former players currently finishing their nursing or teaching degrees as well as some players who are still playing, a few who recently competed in the NAIA national tournament.
We love to support our former players in whatever they go into. For instance, we have had pre-game meals from a former player who has gone on to establish her own meal-prep company. Another one of our former players creates all our social media graphics as she is studying graphic design, so we are more than happy to be one of her projects!
At Motlow, we will support our players in any path that they choose. We will assist them in finding their next college and will continue to help in any way we can in their future!
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?
We typically have between 18-22 players on our roster. The amount of scholarship given often varies, if we have athletes that live locally, at home, and aren’t responsible for any additional bills then their scholarships tend to be lower than someone who moves across the state, country, or world to play here! We always want to give players something, it may not be a lot, but it’s a commitment to them and to show them that they are wanted!
If the junior college is in a state that covers tuition (like Tennessee where you are), do you have athletic scholarships? Do they cover expenses beyond tuition?
With the introduction of the TN promise scholarship, we do have a lot of players from TN who get free education, which is a huge bonus for them. I am still paying my student loans back so I know just how much of a nightmare that student debt can be. These players also are eligible for athletic scholarships and can use their scholarships for books or rent. With a good ACT score and a high GPA, some of our student-athletes have been awarded an additional $3-5,000 in scholarships once their tuition has been paid!
Bonus Question: Is there anything important that you would like to share directly with high school athletes as they navigate the recruiting process?
Do not get hung up on the level of the college, find your fit! If you are selected to play in college, be proud of the fact that you are one of a very small percentage of players who have made it this far!! So, do some research, find out what kind of college experience you are after, find a campus and a program that feels like home, and enjoy!!!!
Also, in the past few years, social media has become even more important in your recruiting process. Coaches are diligent in checking social media and content. If you are ever unsure whether you should post anything, it’s probably safer not to. I know of numerous coaches that have decided against signing a player simply because of their social media content!