It seems the collegiate recruiting process is a popular topic to write about these days. I have received a lot of positive feedback from families and throwers about my latest blog post about the subject, as well as podcast. I appreciate those of you that have taken the time to read, listen, and respond to my thoughts on the subject.
You can read my past articles about recruiting here and here. You can also listen to my recent podcast about the recruiting process by clicking this link. Or, you can listen to my first podcast about the recruiting process.
Since my last post, I have engaged in some interesting conversations about my initial thoughts on the subject. Those follow-up conversations have led to additional thoughts I’m going to share with you below. At Nazareth College, we are in the middle of setting up our recruiting databases, contacting potential student-athletes, and scheduling campus visits and tours for the classes of 2019 and 2020. I do not believe there are many differences in recruiting between Division I, II, and III. In all fairness, at the DIII we are not able to provide athletic scholarships, but besides that I think the divisions are more similar than often initially thought.
Ultimately, in my opinion, I believe athletes make the decision on which college they want to attend based on their intended major/academic program and how comfortable they feel on campus (even if they decided one day that they didn’t want to compete in that particular sport). Included with their comfort level is how comfortable they feel with their event coach(s), head coach, and current athletes on the team.
Practice for the summer with one of my club athletes wrapped up yesterday afternoon. The thrower’s dad and I were talking about upcoming recruiting visits his son had, where, and the types of programs offered. To give you some additional background on this thrower, he threw at the New York State Indoor Track & Field Championships this year. He also threw at Indoor and Outdoor New Balance Nationals. He is a 60’ 25# weight thrower, has a personal best of 180’ in the hammer, and throws the discus 150’. Each DI program he has talked to has told him and his family that he is able to walk-on, and that a scholarship would not be offered to him with the current distances he is throwing. The topics dad I discussed follow below and are not in any particular order of importance. I have encouraged the family to ask these types of questions when they meet with coaches and/or recruiting coordinators in the future.
I’m not sure if these are the politically correct questions to ask a coaching staff, however I will be asking similar questions if my wife and I are fortunate enough to have one of our boys have the athletic prowess to be recruited at the DI level. On a few occasions our coaching staff was asked if an athlete would receive more financial aid and academic money if they achieved All-American status. Does this occur at the DI or DII level?
I've been asked some interesting questions over the course of the past 10 years. One of my favorites is, "Coach, will you be able to give me more money if I play two sports here?" My response was, "We are not able to give you athletic or academic scholarships for playing multiple sports." Her response back was, "<Insert school in the same conference> said they are going to give me $5000 more if I play a fall sport and compete in indoor and outdoor track." I didn't know what to say.
What is the most interesting question you have received from a recruit? How did you handle it?
As always, thanks for reading ~ Charles
The start of the 2018-19 season is upon us. In a couple of weeks our collegiate athletes will be returning to campus for the start of a new academic and athletic school year. I am fortunate to have five freshmen throwers that will be continuing on with their throwing careers at Nazareth College. With a returning sophomore, we will have a total of six throwers.
A couple of weeks ago I sent them an email with an attached letter. As they are probably aware of by now, I tend to get long winded in my emails. My goal throughout the summer was to send them at least one email a week. Rather than send them another email, I wrote them a letter. In my letter, I introduced myself and the program that they are becoming a part of. I am beginning my sixth season at Nazareth. This is the most excited I’ve been since I started! Now, you are probably thinking that I have said that about every team. Each team is different. Different personalities. Different experiences. Different expectations.
I expressed my sincerest thoughts about them making the decision to join our team and how happy I am that they will throwing in a Nazareth jersey this season. In my letter, I also asked them to think about a couple of things. I asked them to think about the future. I asked them where they wanted to be at the conclusion of the throwing careers at Nazareth. We will be working backwards from their far-out visions for themselves and where they see themselves in the future. I asked them the following questions, adapted from one of my favorite coaches, Lou Holtz:
After I sent them the email, I heard back from all six throwers in less than an hour. Early on I learned a couple of things about my throwers. First, they promptly read their email. Second, they each individually sent me a text message telling me they received my email. Lastly, they asked questions about the letter. One of them sent me this text message.
I believe it is important that coaches stay in frequent communication with their athletes over the summer. Especially with incoming freshmen, I make it a point to reach out to them after their high school season is over to see if they have any specific questions about our program. I am usually able to answer questions during their recruiting visits, however somethings do tend to come up during the summer. I typically send them a text message a week just to check in and see how things are going. I find it is easier to answer any questions they may have about programming and throwing at the collegiate level while taking classes during the summer when they don’t have to worry about taking finals and graduating.
How often to do you stay in contact with your athletes over the summer? Do you engage them in conversation not related to throwing? Do your athletes respond to your methods of communication? What do you discuss?
As always, thanks for reading ~ Charles
On Monday I had the chance to work with a senior high school thrower that is looking to take his talents to the Division I level beginning in the fall of 2019. It was my first day working with him for a practice session. He drove down to our throwing compound for a private training session before starting his senior season of high school.
During our session, I asked him how the collegiate recruiting process was going. He told me that he intends to major in Engineering, in which he told me that it has narrowed down his search quite a bit. He said that it has made it difficult because he only has a few choices of colleges that he is really interested in. He takes it as a negative situation. I interpreted it as a positive situation. Let me explain.
First, he already has his mind set on what he wants to major it—Engineering. For some, you may look at it as a negative because there may only be a handful of Division I programs with Engineering majors and tracks. I see this as a positive because it can help bring focus to the process. Rather than being inundated with 50-100 opportunities for college, you may now have it already narrowed down to 25. It makes it much easier to navigate the process because there will be less information to process compared to wanting to become a teacher, in which most Division I college programs have an Education major and track. Narrowing down your search from 200, as compared to 50.
Second, you will be able to learn more about a few colleges, rather than trying to learn a little bit about a lot of colleges. Depending on your situation, you may only want to attend a college in which you will never see snow. That eliminates many more colleges for you. Now we may have gone from 25 to 15 (using our hypothetical example).
Third, now that we have 15 colleges, your next thoughts may be focused on financial aid and scholarship opportunities. In state vs. out of state tuition can be drastically different, especially if you are looking at the difference between a private and state school. For this example, let’s say that financial aid isn’t going to be a problem for you, but you want to attend a private school. You have now narrowed your search down to 8 schools. Now you can really dig in and focus on these schools over the course of your senior season.
Fourth, you will be able to make official visits to most of the remaining 8 schools. This will be a great time to get to know; your future teammates, event coach, head coach, athletic training staff, professors, other athletes, and general body students. Do not be afraid to ask a lot of questions. This is your opportunity to interview everyone else involved in the process. Specific to the Engineering program you are interested in, a few questions to ask would be about internship opportunities, job placement within 3 or 6 or 9 months of graduation, graduate programs, how alumni have fared in the job market, and length of program (4-year undergrad to 1 year of grad school or 6-year program to graduate with a Master’s degree). I’m not familiar with all the ins and outs of Engineering programs, and this might not be much of an issue for you, in regards to how long it may take you graduate with your undergrad and/or graduate degree. However, if you receive financial aid for only the time you are an athlete, aid might not be there when you decide to enroll in a graduate program right away. You may have to pay full tuition if you do not receive other types of aid.
Lastly, when you have narrowed your search down to 2 or 3 schools, a question to ask yourself would be, “If I decide not to throw anymore, will I still be happy at XYZ University located on the East or West Coast XXX miles away from my family?” This may be the farthest thing from your mind at this point in the process, but it is an important one. Perhaps the decision is yours to stay or not, but what if something happens in which you lose your aid, get cut from the team, or suffer an injury? It may be obvious to ask questions about this to some, but not all. I’m sure I missed a couple of other things to take into consideration when navigating the college search process, especially in the case of someone that wants to earn a degree in Engineering.
My hope for high school athletes and their families is to navigate the college recruiting process as best as possible with as much information provided to them by the college they are interested in attending, as well as the information provided to them by their high school guidance counselor office and/or coaching staff. Unfortunately, it may just come down to a number’s game. If you throw the discus 160’ and the shot 60’ and the weight 60’ and the hammer 60m we’ll find a place for you. I’ve heard some pretty crazy recruiting stories from athletes I’ve coached in the past. I’m not an expert in navigating the whole process, however I did see how my parents worked with colleges that were interested in my brother. I also know that you never say yes to the first offer. As I mentioned previously, it is ok to get two or three colleges to compete for your services. It is not ok, however, to lie to any of the colleges either. I’ll get more into that with a follow-up post to the craziest things I’ve heard and been involved with in the recruiting process.
What did I miss in the recruiting process?
My best - Charles
Did you know that our emotions and feelings can positively or negatively dictate our athletic performances? Have you ever really thought that much about it? In her TEDx, Dr. Amber Selking shares the research behind our emotions and how they control our physical state in which dictates the positive or negative direction our athletic performance(s) will go. You can watch her video by clicking the link below.
I knew the second I got ready to start my short three mile run today that it wasn’t going to go well. I got home early from work. After I spoke to my wife and kids for a second while they played in the pool, I casually said that I had to get my running workout in for the day.
Let’s stop right there. Does anyone see a problem with that last statement? Look closely. What are your thoughts?
Jon Gordon speaks a lot about having a positive mindset. He talks about how your self-talk can often dictate your mindset, which ultimately will have an effect on your attitude on how you approach a specific task. Since I started training for my sprint triathlon, my motivation for training has been just as high if not higher on most days than when I competed in track & field or powerlifting. Getting up at 5:30am to complete a swim session or bike ride feels awesome! I feel as though I have accomplished something that will have a lasting positive outcome on my overall health and well-being.
However, this afternoon, for reasons I’ll discuss later, rather than telling my wife that I get to go on my run today, I told her that I have to go on my run. There is a big difference in those two statements. I have to compared to I get to. The I have to statement brings a negative connotation. It signals to our body that we really don’t want to do it, but we have to.
When we tell ourselves we get to do something, it has the opposite effect. We are signaling to our body that we are fired up to get to complete this task or activity. I didn’t really think about how the phrasing effected my day-to-day work tasks until I started sharing that I get to do things at work, rather than I have to do things at work. Amber’s TEDx goes into a more technical and biological/chemical overview than I am doing here. But think about it. The next time you are faced with a challenge or obstacle, how you embrace the situation will influence the direction of the outcome (positively or negatively). You can either tell yourself that you get to do this because you want to or you can tell yourself that you have to do this because well, you just have to. The way we approach the situation or challenge will have an effect on the outcome based on our attitude going into the obstacle or challenge.
For my run this afternoon, I am embarrassed to say that it was the first time since I started training in March that I had to stop mid-run. I just felt as though I couldn’t keep going. It was my mile 19. I felt frustrated and disappointed in myself. I knew that it may have gone this way because I had to get my run it, rather than saying I get the chance to run before dinner. After about 1.3 miles into my 3-mile run, I stopped, and put my hands on my knees. I hunched over a little bit, trying to get as much air into my lungs as I could. After about 10 seconds, I just stood there on the side of the road. Expecting to be home in about 30 minutes, I realized that I didn’t bring my phone to let my wife know about this minor meltdown, and that I would be late.
I walked for about five minutes, tried to get going again, but I couldn’t get back on my pace. Mentally, I knew this workout was pretty much done. Rather than keep going, I called it. Instead of completing the block, I made a quick right turn and headed home. To date, my worst running session of the season. I’m glad I got it out of the way today, and not on August 25th when I get to race (see what I did there). I’ll live to run another day. I think I knew enough today that it wasn’t going to go well if I kept going. There will be other training sessions. Shorting myself 1.5-miles isn’t the end of the world. I can accept that now. I probably couldn’t have accepted that in my mid-20’s though.
The attitude and mindset we bring into a competition, a presentation at work, or the start of a paper/homework assignment will dictate how that task will go. Most of us probably don’t say, “Hey, tonight is going to be awesome. I get the chance to complete my 15-page paper that is due next week. I’m thankful for the opportunity to get this project done.” It does sound nicer telling ourselves that we are getting the chance to do it, as opposed to telling ourselves that we have to do it.
Have you ever encountered a situation like this? What were you doing? How did you handle it? I'd love to hear from you. As always, thanks for reading ~ Charles
Dr. Charles Infurna
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.