How do you respond if you aren’t chosen to be recruited?
If you’re not recruited, it’s not the end of the world. In most cases the coaches would still like you to be a part of the team and would welcome you to walk-on if rowing in college is still something you want to pursue. There are only a handful of “spots” on the team for recruits and you want to make sure you save those spots for the best of the best. The athletes you know will or have the potential to be “game changers” are the ones you want to give those spots to. It’s that straightforward.
Think of it like the NFL draft – the top players that get drafted in the first round are drafted there for a reason. They’ve got something special. That’s not to say though that they won’t be a bust or get an injury or retire and someone chosen in the lower rounds will have to step up and take over. Perfect example is Tom Brady. Dude was pick number 199 in the sixth round and look where he is now. People chosen in the lower rounds have gone on to lead their teams to multiple Super Bowl wins just like how rowers and coxswains who weren’t chosen as recruits walked on to the team and helped lead their crew to an NCAA or IRA championship. You can still do big things and play a huge role on your team if you’re not one of the “chosen few”.
If you hear back from a coach that unfortunately they won’t be supporting your application, first of all you should thank them for meeting and talking with you in the first place. Being on the flip side of things now I’m seeing just how much work goes into the recruiting process and guys, I’ve gotta tell you, it’s a lot. You really have no idea how much time is spent on athletes that aren’t even a part of the team yet. Every step of the way, make sure you’re thanking the coaches for talking to you on the phone, answering your emails, inviting you to campus, showing you around the boathouse, etc. Secondly, ask them if you were accepted to the university and were still interested in rowing, would walking on be a possibility? I guarantee you they’ll say yes. If you were a potential recruit in the first place they were clearly looking at you for a reason so they’re not going to turn that down just because they can’t offer you a recruited spot. Experienced walk-ons do exist and they’re essentially treated the same as the recruits so it’s really not that big of a deal.
Last thing is to not look at it you’re being told to never pick up an oar or cox box again. You’re not. Take it in stride and move forward. And hey, you never know, maybe not being recruited will be a good thing for you. You can still have a great college experience without crew – it really all depends on what you want out of your four or five years on campus. Not being definitively locked into the sport for four more years gives you the opportunity to figure that out. If you decide you want crew to be part of that experience, walk on to the team. If not, go find an awesome club to join. Most schools have a ton to choose from so you can definitely find something to do in place of rowing if you want.