College Recruiting: Contacting coaches, pt. 4 – Laying out who you are and contacting coaches when you’re not a senior

Previously: Intro || The recruiting timeline + what to consider || What do coaches look at? || Contacting coaches, pt. 1 ||  Contacting coaches, pt. 2 || Contacting coaches, pt. 3

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To put the recruiting process into perspective (and to offer up a dose of reality), Coach Lindberg said the following (talking obviously about the men’s side of recruiting): “Out of the entire country there are on average 60-80 males that are or could be considered ‘highly recruitable’. They’re the ones that all the coaches know about and have interactions with on a fairly regular basis. Beyond that, add in another 100-120 athletes from around the world for programs that do international recruiting and you end up with a pool of roughly 200 athletes that can have an impact on their programs at the highest level.”

Because the pool of people who can have a real impact on programs is so small, it’s not only imperative that you put the work to make yourself a competitive recruit but it’s also important to very clearly lay out who + what you are to the coaches (in both questionnaires and emails) so they’re not left to fill in the gaps on their own. Generic emails like “Hi, I’m ____ from ____ and I’m interested in ____, please call me and tell me more about your program.” will sit in an inbox for a “very, very, very, very” long time because it doesn’t help the coach get to know or  understand you.

As has already been discussed in last few “contacting coaches” posts (here, here, and here), things you should include in your emails are who you are, where you’re from, your coach’s name(s), how many years you’ve rowed/coxed, one or two notable accomplishments, your weighted/unweighted GPA, SAT/ACT scores (or the dates you plan on taking them if you haven’t already), applicable physiological data (height/weight), your most recent erg score(s), etc. Coaches are turned off by having to guess this info so don’t hold back or assume your stats aren’t good enough.

To quote Coach Lindberg again, “it’s better to know what you are than what you think you might be”. Obviously you need to be realistic about it (aka don’t email D1 men’s heavyweight programs when your 2k is 6:58 as a junior) but if the trend of recent 2ks for recruited athletes falls between 6:04 and 6:12, don’t assume they’re not gonna look at you if you’re at a 6:16.

Another one of the many common questions that comes up is contacting coaches if you’re not a senior. The rule is that you can email/call them anytime you want, they just can’t contact you directly before July 1st of your senior year (which is why such a big deal is made out of that day). They can reply to emails and talk to you on the phone if they answer it when you call but if they miss the call for example, they’re not allowed to call you back. Similarly with emails, they can reply to emails you send them but they can’t be the first one to make contact. It’s a little confusing but it’s not like it’s some big secret that the NCAA rule book is convoluted and annoying.

It’s unlikely that you’re going to have any real need or reason to contact them as a sophomore and maybe even as a junior depending on your level of experience but if you feel the need, you can reach out and say that you understand they might not have time or be able to reply to you but you wanted to introduce yourself, you’re a [whatever year you are], and then include height, weight, GPA, year in school, a goal (trying to make 1V, working on 2k time, etc.), etc. and that you will follow up with updates in the future. If you’re going to be at races they might also be at (particularly head races), let them know what event you’re entered in, your bow #, what seat you’re in, and the time of your race. This will allow them to scope you out if/when they’ve got time and make a mental note of who you are and what you looked like.

Similarly, go to camps. The coaches do remember you, it’s a good way to make initial connections (particularly if you haven’t begun the recruiting process yet or aren’t a junior/senior), and it gives you something to reference in your emails when it does come time to reach out to them.

Next week: The worst emails coaches have received and what they think of “highlight videos”…

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