In college athletics, recruiting is the term used to describe the process by which college coaches attract student athletes to their teams, often providing athletic scholarships to students in exchange for their commitment to the team. The recruiting process takes between two to five years to complete and is filled with rules. This year, seven Marlborough seniors have gone through the recruiting process.
Even though less than .08 percent of all high school athletes in the United States will play National College Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I sports in college, current Marlborough seniors have been recruited to play sports including basketball, soccer, crew, diving, and softball at Division I schools such as Lehigh University, Harvard University, Yale University, and Brown University.
The recruitment process varies drastically for each student, beginning in 9th grade for some students and in 11th grade for others.
“The athletic recruitment process depends on the sport the student plays, and frankly, how good the student is,” Co-Director of College Counseling Michael Heeter remarked.
Heeter added that as early as 9th grade, student athletes begin to have an idea of whether they will be play college athletics and the level of play they will pursue.
For some sports, students begin the recruitment process by filling out an online questionnaire from the NCAA. After completing this initial step, the student is put on a list that the NCAA distributes to college coaches across the country.
Marlborough students who hope to be recruited are almost always on club sports teams outside of school, where they participate in tournaments that are attended by college coaches and scouts. To set themselves apart from the hundreds of other students hoping to be recruited, students on club teams must contact individual college coaches and request that they attend their tournaments.
The process of communicating with coaches can be frustrating, as the NCAA has a book of rules regarding when coaches can be contacted and the methods in which they can communicate with students.
For example, beginning in 9th grade, a student may email a coach anytime he or she wants to, but coaches cannot email the student back until the student’s junior year. Another rule states that during a student’s junior year, he or she can call a coach, but the coach cannot call the student back.
Frequent communication is vital, as coaches are usually interested in over 400 athletes and are often only able to see half of them play in person.
As goalkeeper for the Marlborough Varsity Soccer team and the Westside Breakers Soccer Club, Rylee ’14 describes that it is often a matter of luck regarding whether or not a coach sees a student play.
“My [club] team went to a tournament in Las Vegas last year, and a coach came to two of my games, not to see me but to see someone else, and then he just happened to see me,” Rylee said.
After consistent communication with the coach, Rylee attended a summer recruitment camp at Brown University, where 40 prospective soccer players came together to scrimmage and compete.
“There were only seven other goalkeepers, and five that were in my grade, and the coach was only going to recruit one goalkeeper. So that was kind of stressful,” Rylee said.
Recruitment camps, including the the one Rylee attended, generally last for three to five days and are an opportunity for coaches to see games and drills in person. Athletes are able to talk to the coaches, which creates more personal relationships than email exchanges. In order to attend one of these camps, however, an athlete must be invited by the college.
Although Rylee did not begin the recruitment process until the spring of her junior year, other student-athletes, such as Clara ’14, began much earlier.
During the summer before 10th grade, Clara, a varsity basketball player and starter on the Nike-sponsored California Storm Basketball Club team, began receiving emails from coaches requesting to see her play. In the summer before her junior year, she traveled across the country, playing in tournaments that were often viewed by as many as 300 college coaches per game. Beginning in the fall of her junior year, Clara met with Co-Director of College Counseling Monica DePriest to begin the formal recruitment process.
“It was basically the same process everyone goes through now but sped up. I had to talk to coaches, practice, and keep my grades up.” Clara said.
Starting in the fall, Clara plans to play basketball at Yale University.