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The Accidental Coach

College athletics and your child

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I wanted to share a bit about my experiences with college recruiting and potential student athletes.

For those of you who have young people who play sports, especially those whose young people are thinking about applying to a D3 college - have your young person contact the coach at the school and see if they can play. Many D3 schools are struggling to fill rosters for sports like tennis, golf, track, and softball. Those coaches would enjoy speaking to your young person about the possibility of playing collegiate athletics. Your potential student-athlete doesn't need to be a state qualifier or have a Blue Chip. Having a good understanding of the sport and having better than beginner skills just might be enough to make the team. It may not be the top team in your college's conference but your potential student athlete will have a fun experience, gain skills, and make memories to last a life time.

Don't wait for your young person to be recruited. Have them look at the college's athletic page and hit the Recruit Me tab. Look up the coach's information and send a text or an email. Take a video (a quick two to three minute vid from your phone is fine) and send it to the coach. 

Who knows what will happen. It just might be the start of something wonderful!!

The Accidental Coach

Edited by The Accidental Coach
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Thanks for your post. My son would love to play D3, but he's hockey so not sure if that is a difficult to fill roster. He assumed he had no shot, even though he's a decent player and has been playing for about 8 years. Maybe he will look into it. He's only a junior so still hasn't finalized his college list yet.

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12 hours ago, Carpe Diem said:

Thank you. So does the student have to have a NCIA or NCAA account where they make sure they have the proper coursework and grades?

No. If your student chooses to play D3, the athletic department will have the necessary paperwork. We have paperwork meetings during athlete orientation. 

Here's what our athletes need:

NCAA form - stating they have never been convicted of a felony, sold drugs, have never been a professional athlete, etc

College student-athlete agreement - acknowledging the college's policies for athletes (drug, alcohol, consent, etc)

Physical - typically done by the family physician and emailed back to the college during summer

Insurance forms- needs parent signature 

Sickle Cell Status Form - required by NCAA

As far as grades go, my understanding is that if the potential student-athlete qualifies for admission to the college or university than no other paperwork is required. I think the difference is D1, D2, and NAIA have more paperwork due to the availability of athletic scholarships. SInce D3 schools do not have athletic scholarships, there is much less paperwork and hoop-jumping.

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I'll add my 2c.

Have the student contact the head coach and assistant coach.  We created a brochure about ds.  Ds emailed it out.  I snail mailed it out.  We also had a website (listed in the brochure) where the coaches could see video and all pertinent info.

Junior year spring break is a good time to go visit schools and talk to the coaches.  Of course, contact them ahead of time and schedule it.  My nephew-in-law scheduled visits with a number of schools (in the Chicago metro area) over spring break.  He was able to talk with the coaches, work out with the team, get the campus tour, etc.

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48 minutes ago, daijobu said:

Is D3 sports as time consuming as D1?  Is it just more relaxed and fun overall?  

My ds plays D3 baseball. It is definitely more laid back at his school. Academics come first. No one is on scholarship to play or going pro. They have academic scholarships to maintain and all have to be able to make a living after baseball. Kids miss for class all the time. Ds took an internship his sophomore year that led him to miss almost all the fall practice season and his coach was annoyed but not mad. They play fewer games in general and don’t travel as far or as often so not many classes missed. It will vary by school though. Ds visited some schools where the coaches did not seem as understanding of the need to focus on academics.

It really still is a lot of time. But that structure can be good for a lot of students. 

Ds has had a great time playing ball in college. He is glad he made the decision to go where he could play. 

One thing to keep in mind is that the athlete still needs to choose a school that makes sense without the sport. A lot of kids come to Ds school to play ball and the school really isn’t a good fit otherwise. They end up having to transfer. Some come to play ball and really are not up to the academics. It just doesn’t work out for a lot of them. So the school has to make sense for more than just sports.

No regrets here about choosing the D3 route.

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In response to Sue's post - Potential student-athletes for D3 athletics may not practice with or workout with the team. It is an NCAA violation.

In response to daijobu - no, mainly due to D3 having mandatory off seasons during which the student-athlete may not participate in any official practices, workouts, etc. For example, tennis has a split schedule. For MTEN, we get 6 weeks in the fall and 13 weeks in the spring. Those intervening weeks (Nov-late Jan), I am not able to speak with them about tennis, watch them play tennis, discuss anything related to their game, have them workout in the fitness center, discuss fitness, diet, or anything that could be remotely construed as me trying to get them fit or maintain fitness. During our regular competitive season, we are limited in the number of hours we can practice per day, the number of days we can play competitive matches per season (20), the number of days we can practice per week, the number of classes missed per term, etc. They also cannot miss class for practice.

As to D3 being more relaxed and fun, overall I would say yes. But, in reality, there are some great D3 teams out there who could rival D1 athletics. Those schools are intense. However, I do believe that the majority of D3 schools are more relaxed.

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On 10/17/2018 at 4:45 PM, Carpe Diem said:

Ok, so is it too late as a senior to pursue NAIA schools? Or perhaps Div II? 

I am no expert, but I notice most years, the coach will announce in the spring another player or two or three has been recruited for his winter sport.  Ds plays Div II.  So, I don't think it's too late.  Note that ds is at an engineering school.  It can be a bit more difficult to find STEM athletes.

Edited by Sue in St Pete

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5 hours ago, Carpe Diem said:

Thank you so much. That is good to know.

Ok, so is it too late as a senior to pursue NAIA schools? Or perhaps Div II? 

It depends on the sport and the school. There are many schools who are still actively recruiting for Fall 2019; especially at the D3 level. 

The official Signing Day isn't until Spring but most D1, D2, and NAIA schools have already 'signed' their 2019s and are already looking to the class of 2021 & 2022. That's why so many D3 coaches are looking at those seniors who have not yet committed. The pressure is intense on potential student-athletes to commit to a school before the New Year.

That's why I'm telling everyone to contact the coach at the D3 schools your young person is interested in. There are openings out there for athletes who want to play their sport but who are not being recruited. They are called Walk-ons and a good Walk-on can change a program. Here's an example, one of the schools in our conference was ranked 10 out 10 last year. This season the team had two walk-ons who were really good tennis players; both showed up during pre-season and surprised the coach. Those two players became the team's #1 & #2 and took that team to 5th place this year. Three other schools in our conference are struggling to field teams. If all high school athletes were being encouraged to contact potential coaches, these schools could fill their rosters and more athletes would be able to compete.

The truth is this - there are more athletes out there than coaches can ever see. The easy ones to recruit are the Blue Chips and the ones who use recruiting services. In reality, the majority of athletes don't use those services because they think they are not good enough to play. It's saddens me because there are many young athletes who could play college athletics but who are passing it by simply because they think that if they do not fit the D1 ideal or if they are not being actively recruited they can't play.

Edited by The Accidental Coach
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7 hours ago, The Accidental Coach said:

In response to Sue's post - Potential student-athletes for D3 athletics may not practice with or workout with the team. It is an NCAA violation.

Is that 365days/year?  I thought they couldn't work out or practice with the team during the season, but it was fine before or after the official season dates.

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10 hours ago, daijobu said:

Is D3 sports as time consuming as D1?  Is it just more relaxed and fun overall?  

D3 is WAY less time consuming than D1.  However, the time commitment at the D3 level varies quite a bit depending on the program, so the recruit will definitely want to investigate the differences before committing to a school.

Some schools have a period late afternoon/early evening where no classes are scheduled.  This block of time is when all of the Varsity teams practice.  Other D3 schools don't have this policy, and many times, these teams practice early in the morning before classes begin.

Some teams also travel more than other teams, which is another factor that the recruit may want to take into account when evaluating the fit of the program.   One of my kids plays in the NESCAC and the other plays in the NEWMAC.  They are both lucky that the teams in their conferences are all in New England.  Other conferences are more geographically spread out and will require more travel time which can be a pain as studying on the road can be difficult.  My NESCAC son's team also travels out to California every year during spring break, while my other son is able to come home for spring break.   Spring break trips didn't factor into the decision for either of my kids, but it was a factor for some of their friends.  

 

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On 10/17/2018 at 1:45 PM, Carpe Diem said:

Thank you so much. That is good to know.

Ok, so is it too late as a senior to pursue NAIA schools? Or perhaps Div II? 

For D2, you do have to go through the NCAA Eligibility Center, including submitting Core Course Worksheets for any of the 16 required courses that were homeschooled. (For core courses taken at a CC, public school, or from an approved provider, you do not have to provide CCWs, just official transcripts.) I probably wouldn't jump through all those hoops unless you knew for sure your student had serious interest from a D2 coach, though, because it's a lot of work and hassle for nothing if he ends up going D3 or NAIA. But you should definitely start taking to coaches ASAP,  because many recruited athletes are already applying EA/ED at this point, and those deadlines are coming up soon.

ETA: Just wanted to add that for D1 & D2, walk-ons need to go through the same eligibility process as recruited athletes. I was surprised to discover how many homeschoolers thought they could just avoid the whole process by walking on. Nope.

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Another question. Can a student sign up through the NCAA & the NAIA Eligibility to see if they have a chance at a Div 2 school as well as look into NAIA? Or does a student have to do one or the other?

Thanks!

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On 10/21/2018 at 2:23 PM, Carpe Diem said:

Another question. Can a student sign up through the NCAA & the NAIA Eligibility to see if they have a chance at a Div 2 school as well as look into NAIA? Or does a student have to do one or the other?

Thanks!

The NCAA is not involved in the recruiting process at all.  The coach at each college will let the athlete know what his chances are to play at his school.  The NCAA just verifies that the athlete met the bare minimum academic standards.  

In my experience, there is no benefit to registering with the NCAA until you have a good idea of the division your student will compete in.  D3 athletes don't have to go through the NCAA, and the coaches in the other divisions don't care if the student does not have an NCAA eligibility account number during the recruiting process.

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On 10/21/2018 at 11:23 AM, Carpe Diem said:

Another question. Can a student sign up through the NCAA & the NAIA Eligibility to see if they have a chance at a Div 2 school as well as look into NAIA? Or does a student have to do one or the other?

You're free to talk to both NCAA and NAIA schools, there's no conflict there. But as Alewife mentioned, neither of those organizations have anything to do with the recruiting process, they just certify that a student is academically eligible after they're recruited. NCAA literally won't even open your file or look at your docs until a D1/D2 coach confirms that the student is being recruited at that school.

Your student should start calling and emailing coaches ASAP. Put together a simple athletic resume, including photos, academic and athletic stats, list of special skills, list of important wins/tournaments/accolades/etc., and include that in the email. Put short highlight videos online and provide links. If you want more detailed info about specific schools, or have questions about recruiting in a specific sport, the Athletic Recruiting board on College Confidential is very helpful. 

If recruitment is a priority, and especially if the student's athletic abilities have just recently improved to a recruitable level, when many of the desirable recruiting slots are already taken, then it's also possible to take a gap year. That may be harder to do for, say, a PS football player, but it's quite common in club sports.  Assuming the student continues to improve and can get on coaches' radars earlier in the season, a gap year can be a smart move.

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11 hours ago, Corraleno said:

You're free to talk to both NCAA and NAIA schools, there's no conflict there. But as Alewife mentioned, neither of those organizations have anything to do with the recruiting process, they just certify that a student is academically eligible after they're recruited. NCAA literally won't even open your file or look at your docs until a D1/D2 coach confirms that the student is being recruited at that school.

Your student should start calling and emailing coaches ASAP. Put together a simple athletic resume, including photos, academic and athletic stats, list of special skills, list of important wins/tournaments/accolades/etc., and include that in the email. Put short highlight videos online and provide links. If you want more detailed info about specific schools, or have questions about recruiting in a specific sport, the Athletic Recruiting board on College Confidential is very helpful. 

If recruitment is a priority, and especially if the student's athletic abilities have just recently improved to a recruitable level, when many of the desirable recruiting slots are already taken, then it's also possible to take a gap year. That may be harder to do for, say, a PS football player, but it's quite common in club sports.  Assuming the student continues to improve and can get on coaches' radars earlier in the season, a gap year can be a smart move.

Thank you so very much!

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On 10/18/2018 at 5:05 AM, Sue in St Pete said:

Is that 365days/year?  I thought they couldn't work out or practice with the team during the season, but it was fine before or after the official season dates.

For D3, it cannot be an official practice and the coach may not be in attendance. For example, a member of the swim team could invite the prospective student-athlete to swim with him but the coach can not so much as be near the pool, see the pool, or discuss with the current swimmer the abilities of the PSA. In the off season, the coach can't even say, "Hey, three of the guys are swimming this afternoon at 3pm. Why don't you join them?" This is a violation because 1- the coach shouldn't know that members of the team are swimming at a particular time and 2- he cannot invite a PSA to practice.

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On 10/23/2018 at 2:09 PM, Corraleno said:

<snip>

If recruitment is a priority, and especially if the student's athletic abilities have just recently improved to a recruitable level, when many of the desirable recruiting slots are already taken, then it's also possible to take a gap year. That may be harder to do for, say, a PS football player, but it's quite common in club sports.  Assuming the student continues to improve and can get on coaches' radars earlier in the season, a gap year can be a smart move.

This is what makes me sad and frustrated...there are only so many athletic scholarships to D1, D2, and NAIA schools available. Yet there are D3 schools, which typically grant academic scholarships that cover far more than the athletic scholarships, in dire need of good athletes yet PSAs are holding out for the coveted athletic scholarship. In my sport, a full ride to anything other than the top D1 or D2 schools is almost unheard of. Most D1 schools have 3-4 scholarships that they have to divvy up between 6-8 players. It is rare for any player to earn a full ride; most get 1/2 scholarship and then have to pay the remaining amount oop or take loans. For international students, this is the reason the second question any coach asks is "What is the PSA's budget?" If a PSA can afford $12,000 a year, then the scholarship will only make up the difference between expenses and the PSA's budget; this way there is more money to go around. (Note: this does not include the top D1 schools whose coffers are quite deep.)

Also - the 'recruitable' level at some of the D3s might be more attainable for many PSAs. This is why I advised  you (general you) to encourage your PSA to reach out to the coach at the school he/she is interested in attending. You never know what can happen.

For example, the Top D1 schools are looking for male tennis players with UTRs of 11+ and females with 9.5+ (these are on the low end). Most good high school players are between 4.5-7. These kids will never earn an athletic scholarship to D1 schools; in reality, they won't even be able to be on D1 JV. Tennis for them at the D1 level MIGHT be at the Club Sport level, however, even  the Club Sports at many D1 schools are populated with top end players. But every player with a 4.5-7 UTR can play at a D3. It might not be the top D3 schools - Emory, W&L, etc. but they can play (as a freshman, as a walk on).

Here's a story about how one school's history just changed: This school has had a declining tennis program for years and has finished last in our conference multiple times. This year, they had TWO walk-ons (non-recruited players). These players were good players (not D1 quality but good, solid players) and became that school's #1 and #2. The school ended the season one win short of the conference tournament! Those two players made a significant impact on that program and, since they are freshmen, can continue to do so for three more years.

On the flip side, there were three other schools in the same conference struggling to fill teams.

This is why, if your young person wants to play college sports, I encourage them to reach out to the coach. Good things can happen!!

Edited by The Accidental Coach
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1 hour ago, The Accidental Coach said:

For D3, it cannot be an official practice and the coach may not be in attendance. For example, a member of the swim team could invite the prospective student-athlete to swim with him but the coach can not so much as be near the pool, see the pool, or discuss with the current swimmer the abilities of the PSA. In the off season, the coach can't even say, "Hey, three of the guys are swimming this afternoon at 3pm. Why don't you join them?" This is a violation because 1- the coach shouldn't know that members of the team are swimming at a particular time and 2- he cannot invite a PSA to practice.

Accidental Coach, when I was at the regional ITA this fall, a parent of a high school player and I were discussing the recruiting process.  This student does not have a UTR rating or a TRN rating.  The mom told me that her son went on a college visit and the D3 coach hit with the player to determine if he would be a good fit for the team.  I expressed my surprise that a coach was hitting with a recruit and the mom said that the coach told her that as long as the mom paid for her son to hit with the coach, it was perfectly fine.  

When my son went through the process a couple of years ago, the coaches couldn't even watch him play, let alone hit with him.  I don't get how paying the coach is within the rules, while hitting with a coach for free is a violation.  Has this rule changed since 2016 or have you always been able to hit with the coach on a campus visit as long as you pay for the hit?

Edited by alewife

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Alewife - I had to ask our compliance officer about your question. Her response is that yes, he can hit with him under the guise of a "private lesson" as long as he charges the usual and standard fee. This 'lesson' however, cannot take place during an official or unofficial visit to campus or on campus grounds. It's a loophole that many coaches use to give players a 'try out'/

 

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8 hours ago, The Accidental Coach said:

Alewife - I had to ask our compliance officer about your question. Her response is that yes, he can hit with him under the guise of a "private lesson" as long as he charges the usual and standard fee. This 'lesson' however, cannot take place during an official or unofficial visit to campus or on campus grounds. It's a loophole that many coaches use to give players a 'try out'/

 

Hmmm...based on what this mom said, the hit took place during a visit to campus and on campus grounds.  Thanks for checking into it.

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