Getting Recruited: What College Coaches Want You to Know About Your Child and College Sports

Getting Recruited: What College Coaches Want You to Know About Your Child and College Sports

For many young athletes, getting recruited to play sports in college is the long-term goal. If your child has that dream, take a few minutes to hear what these college coaches have to say to parents and athletes. I talked with four college coaches:

  • Joel Penner,16-year football coach, Head football coach, Dordt College.
  • Charles Coan, 27-year soccer coach, Asst. Coach, Michigan Tech University
  • Ordell Walker, Head Football Coach and Assistant AD, Bluefield College, 16 years college.
  • Bryon Hamilton, 9-year college football coach, Shasta College.

Each of them shares what they want parents to know and what they are looking for when they recruit athletes.

“It’s Time to Let Your Child Do The Talking”

When being recruited, encourage your child to be in the driver seat of the process, do not be the parent that dominates the conversations, it gives coaches the impression that your son/daughter has not been prepared to be a leader. Penner.

Your child can talk, let him. You cannot control the coach’s decision. Coan. 

You Must Know The Truth About Scholarships”

Be realistic about your child’s talent vs the talent at the level he or she wants to play. D1 players are offered D1 scholarships in their sophomore and junior years. If your child is not being offered one that early he is probably a small college athlete. Walker.

Scholarships are hard to earn. Not every athlete will earn a scholarship and therefore the parent and athlete need to know their options and have a plan if a scholarship is not offered out of high school. Hamilton.

Be Prepared for the Ego Adjustment for Your Child”

Your child is going from the top of the mountain, back to the bottom–senior to freshmen. Help him understand this is quite an ego adjustment and he needs to be humble and persevere. Penner.

Grades Matter Way More than You Think”

Time management and academic discipline are musts in order to survive and flourish as a student athlete. Hamilton

Academic Performance is key for us. We do not look at anyone with questionable academics as they will never survive our environment. We want 4 year players. Coan.

We actively recruit our next class beginning in May. Your child needs to be an academic qualifier by May of his/her junior year. It’s wise to take SAT/ACT often and early. Walker.

“Look for the Right Fit For Your Child”

Pick the right experience for your child’s future (as opposed to the cheapest school/best scholarship, highest level, best facilities, etc.)  Keep in mind the PEOPLE that will influence your child are the key to their experience being a beneficial one. And go to camps at the level you can realistically play. This is the best way to get exposure to coaches. Penner.

“We Look for Self-Motivated Hard Workers”

We want athletes with a great work ethic and never a sense of entitlement. They must have a great passion for the sport. College athletics is different and much more demanding than high school. Hamilton.

We look for athletes that have a tough work ethic. Penner.

It is obvious that we look for great athletic talent that fits our vision and system. Parents and athletes must realize we don’t recruit to their high school coaches’ system. So we look for a great work ethic to go with talent. We want self motivated players. If his coach or counselor says he is lazy and you have to stay on him to do his work, that’s a problem. These are all signs that we will have to babysit him. If mom has to wake Johnny up for school, what will that translate to in college when mom is not there? Sleeping in! If we look at transcripts and the athlete has a bunch of absences that means he will probably miss a lot of class in college. If he can only get good grades in the classes he likes, that is a bad sign for a college career. If he has high ACT or SAT scores but low high school GPA, that is a sign of a smart but lazy or unmotivated player. Walker.

“We Look for Much More Than Skill”

How do they talk to their high school coach? Do they respect authority? What are their family dynamics? How do they treat their parents? Penner.

We judge an athlete’s character–by demonstrated attitude toward parents, coaches, teammates, referees, opponents, friends, and his or her behavior on official visits and student stays, as well as behavior in meetings with coaches. Coan.

I want players who are humble. That is to say, is the athlete coachable. Or will he only do what he is comfortable doing? Can he learn new things or is it all about what he did in high school? Is he willing to try and compete to make uncomfortable things comfortable? Players and parents who talk bad about their high school coach’s offense or defensive schemes are warning signs that they will talk bad about their college coaches. And those players are headaches. Walker.

As coaches we see hundreds of players. If we have to give up a little bit of talent to avoid these headaches we will. There lots of potential players. High athletes must understand that. It’s a buyer’s market. So as an athlete your child must do everything he can beyond the field to show that he will be a contributor to a college program and not suck the life out of it with potential issues. Walker.

What’s the Deciding Factor?

As I read through these coaches’ statements, the thing that stood out to me was simply this: Your child’s chances of being recruited are much higher if you and your child are just as concerned about character and grades and work ethic as you are about skill. Those are the intangibles that could very well be the deciding factor for your child’s college dreams to come true.


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