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College Lacrosse Recruiting: “The Nice Nudge: Effective Communication In College Recruiting” By Tom Kovic Of Victory Collegiate Consulting


The Nice Nudge: Effective Communication in College Recruiting

By Tom Kovic

The college search for athletes is a quest and unless you are the blue chip kid that the coaches are hovering over, you need a vehicle to drive the recruiting process in your favor. Personally, I believe the manner and how often you communicate with college coaches can make a big difference in your results.
 

If there is an operative I use with the families I advise in effectively communicating with college coaches it is nudge. Nudge is defined as: “Pushing against gently, especially in order to gain attention or give a signal.” That being said, there is a fine line between nudging the college coaches and bugging them and what follows is an attempt to help you differentiate between the two.
 

Considering the volume of e-mails they receive from high school prospects, college coaches develop personal filtering systems to root out prospects and place in the active recruiting file. Whether it is an e-mail to update Coach with your latest YouTube video, or a phone call to discuss the program in greater detail, be sure the communication has “grip” and it is part of a seamless effort in developing a meaningful dialogue.

Nowadays, the volume of interested prospects can be overwhelming for a college coach and the trick to experiencing an effective dialogue is simply intending to assist Coach in the recruiting process. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Don’t be afraid to initiate contact with a college coach.
  • Plan your communications thoroughly and be sure the messages you send have value to your case as a prospective student-athlete.
  • Keep every communication simple, concrete and “on point.”
  • Stay persistent in your effort (Remember, coaches are bound to very strict contact rules whereby they cannot, in many cases, return phone calls, e-mails etc.).

By executing a planned approach in communicating with the college coaches you simply control the playing field. This approach may appear aggressive, but when tempered with care and respect, a good coach will see an intangible and strong character component emerge in the prospect.
 

There’s a lot of chatter out there about college athletics being a business and although we may not agree with this statement in principle, it happens to be true. Therefore, prospects and families have two choices: 1) They can ignore it or 2) You can embrace it and learn to work within the system.

Whether it is a job interview, running for class president or navigating the college search, the “competition component” plays its part in the ultimate success of any journey. “Sticking your foot in the door” is just one of many tactics that really hit home when I advise families to ratchet up their effort.
 

Simply put, if you happen to be among the majority of college prospects that are lumped into the “B file” of candidates, you are still active and in the hunt, but the competition for a roster spot is fierce. What can you do to rise above the rest of the pack?

  • Be prepared for negative feedback and possible rejection. “You are only as good as your worst moment.”
  • Remain steadfast and persistent in your effort. “The true measure of a champion is not when things are going well, but when your back is in the corner.”
  • Re-evaluate your plan with your recruiting team on a regular basis. “None of us is as smart as all of us.”
  • Execute with passion. “Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.”
  • Push yourself out of your comfort zone. “Every noble work is first impossible.”
  • Never lose sight of your goal. “Dreams are whispers from the soul.”

The college search for athletes has evolved to new and exciting levels. The competition for athletic scholarship, admission support and even walk-on opportunities is fierce. Embrace this and you will appreciate the stakes in an effort to realize the importance of careful planning and impeccable execution during every step of your college quest.
 

Remember, there is a fine line between being a nice nudge and a royal pain in cultivating sincere relationships with the college coaches. Rejection can be one step away, but so too is opportunity. Closing in on that centimeter of chance and distancing yourself from the competition takes courage and we all know too well that “chance favors the bold.”

College Lacrosse Recruiting: “Recruiting Strategies To Kick Off The New Year” By Tom Kovic


 

Recruiting Strategies to Kick Off the New Year

By Tom Kovic

The New Year offers change, new commitments, a clean slate and fresh opportunity to approach the recruiting process with renewed passion. Below are class by class suggested tactics.

Seniors
 
The early decision and signing periods are behind you and if you were not picked up in admissions or offered an athletic scholarship you now have new life in the regular decision and regular signing pools.

Will the regular recruiting period be competitive? Yes. Will there be plentiful opportunities? No. Try not to focus on what was not accomplished during the early recruiting process, but re-group and control your playing field. Cast a narrow net in selecting the colleges you will pursue and focus on the following:

1) Meet all admissions application deadlines.

2) Update your personal profile with any pertinent academic and athletic information.

3) Edit your recruiting highlight video with footage.

4) Ping the coaches regularly and avoid incommunicado.

5) Ask your club or high school coach to reach out on your behalf to speak directly with the college coaches.

6) Take another road trip to your top schools and set a meeting with Coach.

Your strategy and operative should be fresh. Provide the coaches with the unique resources to help them see you in a new and different light that will convince them to recruit you earnestly. 

Juniors
 
If there is an operative for juniors that should be referenced regularly as you build the recruiting effort it is “momentum.” As a junior prospect, you want to remain highly visible on the college coach’s radar and provide them with regular updates to your academic and athletic progress. I suggest you focus on the following:

1)  Update your YouTube video with new highlights that will get the attention of the coaches.

2) Be sure you are on target academically and registered for and preparing for standardized testing.

3) Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.

4) Line up a campus visit and work with the college coach to include a possible overnight stay as part of the trip.

5) Cultivate relationships with each of the coaches you have connected with. The “grey area” character component can evolve here and help separate you from the rest of the pack.

Re-assess your recruiting strategy and look at the “end game.” Identify your ultimate goal in the recruiting process and use it as your catalyst. From here, work backward and identify working targets, each building and surging from one to the next until you reach your present point of reference. Now start from your new “launch point” and surge forward in building upon the plan, one brick at a time.

Sophomores
 
Information gathering and learning the “new language” of college recruiting should be the mantra for the sophomore prospect, but it goes further than that. As I mentioned early in this article, the college search for athletes has accelerated to a mind bending rate and one way to keep pace is to embrace and understand it. I suggest focusing on the following:

1) Develop a “cliff notes version of “impact” NCAA rules and procedures. Go to the NCAA website (www.ncaa.org) and download the recruiting manuals and pay attention only to the chapters on recruiting, financial aid and eligibility.

2) Put yourself down on paper by creating a 1 page personal profile and developing a 4 minute highlight video.

3) Do a self-evaluation (I have a great 10 question assessment I ask all my students to answer before we launch) and get a grasp on what you are potentially looking for in the college experience.

4) Develop a group of 20-25 colleges, diverse in community, academic offering and athletic strength (D-1, 2, 3). Locate the home and athletic websites and poke around to get a feel” for the different environments.

5) Take 3-5 campus road trips during the year. Don’t just show up. Be sure you have introduced yourself to the coaches through regular communication and line-up a face to face meeting.

The start of 2012 presents new opportunities. Developing a positive mental boost, similar to gearing up for a new season is a proactive step in the right direction. When you break it down, what you create is simply a clean slate to begin again anew and with that, every opportunity to push yourself to achieve great things.

Tom Kovic
President
Victory Collegiate Consulting

College Lacrosse Recruiting: “Summer Tips For The Prospective Student-Athlete” By Tom Kovic Of Victory Collegiate Consulting


 

 

Summer Tips for the Prospective Student-Athlete

 By Tom Kovic

Many believe the summer is a time where college coaches switch to lower gears. The regular season is complete and the student-athletes have headed home for a well-deserved break.  Nothing can be further from the truth! Opportunity is always knocking and if there is a prime season for recruiting, it is during the summer. Below are some simple tips to consider as you move your college recruiting effort to a higher level.

Define Goals: Whether you had that magical season “for the books” or one where you hit a brick wall at the end, now is the time to carefully review your past season and put it into perspective.  The young prospect who has the ability to be introspective in his approach to the past year and pull significant learning points from both positive and negative experiences is well on his way to developing self-awareness and effectively plotting the next plan.

Don’t just muddle forward through your summer, but face it as the ultimate challenge in “rising up.”  Determine the skill set you want to achieve and ask yourself 2 questions: Are these aims reasonably within my grasp? Am I selling myself short? Once you have done a “realistic check” you are ready to put together your summer goals.

Team Approach: Include your club and/or high school Coach in reviewing your goals and helping you build your plan to achieve your goals. This approach shows respect for Coach and your willingness to reach to him for advice. Second, it demonstrates a mature approach to utilizing a team approach and in this case, with an individual who wants to help!

By including Coach in the mix, he now has a vested interest in the final product and with that interest, will grow a willingness to be a valuable partner in the effort.

Updates: Whether you intend to provide the college coaches with your latest SAT score or with an improved look to your athletic skill set, the rule of thumb here is to make it have “grip.”  Coaches are simply swamped, even during the summer when their travel schedules accelerate. By keeping your communication updates simple and crisp, you are assisting Coach and he will appreciate your effort.

As soon as you have compiled your academic progress records (past year grades, standardized testing and academic awards), forward them along in a clean and easy to read format.

Next, re-cap your past season in a bullet format and include team record, individual statistics and personal accolades. Let  Coach know where you will be attending tournaments and showcases and as these events draw closer, send a more personal and detailed communication about the event details.

Finally, update your personal profile, video stream and share it with the coaches. Keep it clean and crisp and remove any unnecessary and outdated information.

Take a Road Trip: A good road trip is your backstage pass to the college search for athletes and taking unofficial visits to several of your top schools of interest is a great way to get a “look under the hood” to determine if the institution is a potential “match.”

The campus visit is extremely important and requires careful planning. Coaches are like hot potatoes during the summer and it can be very difficult to track them down without proactive communication. You certainly want to call the office of admissions and determine when campus tours and information sessions are offered, but you also want to make every attempt to schedule a meeting with Coach as well.

Contact the coaches 4-6 weeks prior to your planned trip and determine their schedule and availability to meet with you. You should be pleasantly surprised with how these campus visits will jump start your recruiting quest!

Summer vacation provides the prospective student-athlete with a great break from the school year and a wonderful time to “lighten the schedule.” Prospects and families who are willing to make proactive efforts in executing several key areas of their recruiting plan will position themselves best for great success in the college search.

http://www.victoryrecruiting.com/

College Lacrosse Recruiting: “Wired for Success” By Tom Kovic Of Victory Collegiate Consulting


 Wired for Success

By Tom Kovic

So your top college hasn’t come knocking on your door. That doesn’t mean you’re doomed never to enter its hallowed halls. Prospective student-athletes can wire themselves for success to maximize their chances of gaining admission to their top college choice.Below are five things you can do to have a shot at attending the school of your dreams.

Begin With a Dream

My mantra for the students and families I have the privilege of advising is “victory begins with a dream.” Every effort requires a starting point, and I believe we should never deny ourselves the opportunity to reach high, especially in the college search.

That said, maintaining a grounded approach when lining up potential college options is equally important. I suggest identifying three groups of colleges for your recruiting plan: Dream, Likely and Back-Up.

Define Long-Term Goals

As an adviser, I like to begin by envisioning “the end game” and working backward to define specific goals. The initial phase of the college search might appear a bit daunting, but the trick is to begin big and then chisel away at a plan to simplify it.

Look long-term when defining your goals. Although the athletic component will be exciting during your four-year college experience, ask: “Where do I see myself in 40 years?” Keep the academic component in the vanguard to position yourself for years of success beyond college.

Use a Team Approach

A team approach maximizes efficiency and minimizes individual pressure and stress. Forming a group of trustworthy individuals who assume specific roles during the process will increase your chances in grabbing the brass ring. The team should include:

  • Prospect
  • Parents
  • Team Coach
  • Club Coach
  • Guidance Counselor/College Adviser
  • Personal Mentor/Adviser

 

With a team approach, responsibility for effectively executing your recruiting plan is distributed among the various team members. All assignments should be clearly spelled out, and communication among team members should be frequent and consistent. This will help streamline the plan and avoid mistakes and confusion, which can contribute to unclear thinking, misdirection and potentially poor choices.

Establish Timelines

You have envisioned your dream and defined your goals. Your team is in place, and you are anxious to get started. Not so fast! A key component of the college search is to establish specific timelines that you will hold yourself to in executing your plan.

Without strict adherence to timelines, you reduce your chances of hitting your targets. Deadlines can get missed, raising the stress level. Start broad and develop long-term to-do lists with calendar dates up to a year. From there you can break your timelines into more detailed formats that include weekly and monthly targets.

Express Desire

Unless you are a blue chip athlete whom every college coach wants, you will need a recruiting plan that helps you rise above your competition. Various character components can assist you, but one that stands out above the rest is desire.

When it comes to the recruiting process, most college coaches make comprehensive assessments. Coaches always look beyond athletic and academic achievements at intangible factors that define a great recruit. The successful college recruiter looks for self-aware, independent prospects who bring strong character to the table.

At this point, you have your college recruiting vehicle put together and are ready to take it out for a spin. Desire is the fuel that moves the vehicle forward.

In the final analysis, recruiting success depends on a number of factors, but having a dream, defining your goals, forming a team, establishing timelines and showing your deep desire to play your sport will push you to the top.

 

Tom Kovic

President
Victory Collegiate Consulting

www.victoryrecruiting.com

 
 

 

College Lacrosse Recruiting: “Organizing With Confidence For College Athletics Recruiting” By Tom Kovic Of Victory Collegiate Consulting


“Organizing with Confidence for College Athletics Recruiting”

 

 By Tom Kovic

 Creating a user friendly organizing system for the college recruiting process will serve as a helpful tool, especially when information begins to pile in from different college coaches. Not only will this system assist you in keeping track of the steady stream of paper and e-traffic, it will act as a great resource for future contacts and important coach-prospect communications. Trust me, coaches will be requesting information (transcripts, high school profile, standardize test results, tax information for financial pre-reads etc.) at about the same time, and the family who develops an efficient access system to this information will navigate the process successfully and with great confidence.

Below are some organizing points that I think will be very helpful:

1.   Maintain individual college program folders that will include: general college materials (brochures etc.), coach contact information, correspondence notes, a list of questions for the coaches, your checklist of time-lines and targets for both admissions and recruiting.

2.  Keep extra copies of your resume, video, transcripts and test scores ready in case a coach misplaces this information.

3.  Just as you organize your paper files, your e-files on your computer should be saved in a way that will allow you to easily refer back to all the documents. Most likely you will want folders for each college so that you can readily access the files for any letters, essays or resumes you have sent out.

4.  You will likely be corresponding regularly with coaches via e-mail, and saving all the important e-mails that you receive and keep electronic copies of the important e-mails you send out will assist you greatly. Again it may be helpful to create folders in your e-mail account for each college, where you can file correspondences that you may need to reference at a later time.

5.  Maintain your personal calendar to be sure that you have added new events and that you are aware of upcoming deadlines. Also have your calendar in front of you when you are speaking with a coach on the phone or when you are in a meeting. This will help you to answer questions about your availability for campus visits and evaluations.

It is essential that you respond to correspondence in a timely manner. You should set regular times where you reply to e-mails, phone calls and/or mail. If for some reason you anticipate a delay in your response, you should notify the coaches by e-mail to let them know that you are working on the response, and provide a time when they can expect to hear from you. You want to show coaches you are organized and responsible about deadlines and that you respect their time. College coaches remember the “little things.”

Maintaining an organized approach can become very time-consuming and frustrating, especially in the beginning phases of recruiting. Once the system is in place and the process is understood and practiced to perfection, it becomes a tremendous tool for the prospect and the family to use in accurate planning, while increasing the chances of strong success in the college quest.

College Lacrosse Recruiting: “Communication with College Coaches: The Introduction” By Tom Kovic Of Victory Collegiate Consulting


If there is one area of the college recruiting process that stands above the rest, I believe it is the way prospects effectively communicate with college coaches. Let’s face it, the majority of boy’s and girls in any given active recruiting pool will not be blue chip prospects and a reluctance to proactively communicate with college coaches will oftentimes result in an undertow that will likely drag a prospect and family backward in the college search. Below are simple tips to consider when making an introductory contact with college coaches.

Define Yourself

Before you take the plunge and either pickup the phone or e-mail college coaches I strongly suggest you take the time to define who you are. This may appear on the outside as a daunting task, but once you wrap your arms around it and understand the importance of self awareness in college recruiting the easier it gets…And it’s fun!

Remember, first impressions are always remembered and you want to prepare best for the initial communication with the coaches. The simplest way to define you is by developing a personal profile or resume. Keep it to 1 page and clearly list your academic, athletic and personal accomplishments during the past 2 years. Include an area at the top that lists your contact information and an action photo. Accomplish this task and you’re half way there!

Know Yourself

Now that you have yourself defined on paper, be proud of what you see. Think about it for a moment…You have poured countless hours of sweat, frustration and glory into your training and sometimes it’s nice to smell the roses and give yourself a proverbial pat on the back!

OK, you have yourself neatly defined; you are happy with what you see, but now you need to know it, engrain it and make it a driving part of developing your college quest momentum. Remember, there are 3 qualities that college coaches are looking for in prospects: Fine students, strong athletes and self-aware individuals who bring a strong character component to the table. When you connect with the college coaches you do not want to “hope” to know yourself, you have to be able to express yourself seamlessly and with confidence.

Initial E-mail

Coaches receive hundreds and hundreds of emails from high school prospects and they develop personal filtering systems to root out prospects to place in their active recruiting file. The college search for athletes is tremendously competitive and you will need to prepare your e-mail communication carefully and with the intent to easily assist the college coach in doing an initial evaluation.

I suggest crafting your initial e-mail by using the following rule of thumb: Keep it simple, short and informative. You don’t have much time to make an impression, so make your effort count. Let the Coach know who you are, where you are from, what high school you attend and the year you will graduate. Let Coach know you are excited with the college search and that you have sincere interest in his program. Depending on the year you are currently in high school, I encourage you to let Coach know you will follow-up the e-mail with a phone call in the very near future. But remember…Do what you say you are going to do!

Phone follow-up

Communicating with college coaches by e-mail has a chance in being effective, but unless you are that blue chip kid that many coaches are evaluating, you will need to roll your sleeves up and get busy. Remember, college coaches are receiving hundreds or recruiting correspondences and they simply do not have the time to respond to all of them. Taking a proactive effort in “keeping the ball alive” will give you the best chance in moving forward.

NCAA rules clearly restrict (most coaches) from initiating phone contact with prospects until July after the completion of the junior year. Although this is true, it does not preclude the prospect from calling the Coach and discuss your sincere initial interest in his program. You need to be well prepared for this conversation and don’t just call to say hello! Develop a short bullet list of topics you want to cover and practice your delivery until you reach a comfort level before calling Coach.

Frequency in Communication

Is there a point where a prospect can force too much communication with the college coaches? Yes! You don’t want to ping them incessantly, but you do want to keep them posted with significant updates (academic and athletic) and with specific intentions (unofficial campus visits etc.) without bugging them.

How frequently you communicate with the coaches also depends on what high school year you are in, the sport you play and the season you participate. So, as an example, if it is September and you are a junior in high school and play lacrosse, it would be a good idea to keep the coaches posted every 2-3 weeks regarding your fall tournaments, updated PSAT scores and interest in making a campus visit in October.

 

Effective communication between the family and the college coach can be critical to the decision made by the coach to pursue a prospect. It can make or break a coach’s decision to offer an athletic scholarship or to provide that extra “push” in the admission process.

 

If your mission is clear, communication becomes the vehicle to move with definite purpose in your chosen direction. On the other hand, ill-prepared communication can cause confusion and misdirection. Your ship moves, but with a weak rudder.

 

Tom Kovic is the current director of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families on college recruiting. He is the author of “Reaching for Excellence” An educational guide for college athletics recruiting. Kovic delivers college recruiting presentations nationwide and he is a regular contributor to several online magazines and professional organizations. For further information visit: www.victoryrecruiting.com  

 

Lacrosse-Radio.com “Recruiting Corner”: Tom Kovic Of CollegeRecruiting.tv Discusses “Non-Scholarship Opportunities” For Lacrosse Student-Athletes (Audio)


Tom Kovic of Victory Collegiate Consulting and CollegeRecruiting.tv

Tom Kovic of Victory Collegiate Consulting addresses “Non-Scholarship Opportunities” and specifically: “Are non-scholarship student-athletes as obligated to compete as scholarship athletes?”