RECRUITING ADVICE FOR CURRENT SENIORS -- The Early Signing Period has come and gone. If you are a senior and find yourself not being heavily recruited or with no real viable college options, it is time to reevaluate your college search process. There is still time before the April 8, 2018, signing date to devise a new strategy and create a new outreach plan. First, it is imperative to identify the what is behind your current non-recruitment status. If coaches from the schools on your list are not responding to your communications, they are most likely not interested. If you have yet to hear from programs not on your list, they either do not know about you or they are not interested. Unfortunately, if they are not interested in you as a recruit there is very little that you can do other than improving upon your current marks during the indoor or early outdoor season. However, if it is because they don't know about you -- there is still time. If you want to compete in college here are six things you should be doing.
1. Try, try again -- and then move on.
Send one more email or make one more phone call to the programs you have an interest in who have not yet contacted you or responded back to your previous communications. I would suggest an email expressing your sincere desire to attend their school and compete for them directed to both the head coach and the event coach who would be coaching you. If you still don't hear back from them, it is probably time to cross them off of your list.
2. Reach out to schools that have reached out to you.
Go through your old emails, letters of inquiry, questionnaires, and generic correspondences, and then create a list of every school that has contacted you. Reach out to these programs and start a dialogue if you haven't yet. You may be pleasantly surprised and find a good fit for you at a place you are not currently considering. At this point in time, you are trying to create a list of options -- you can always say no at a later date. Ideally, it would be nice to have choices and to be in a position to say "no" to a few schools. Concentrate your efforts on programs that have shown an interest in you.
3. Expand your search.
If you are not being recruited, you have three primary options. The first would be to have a great senior year and wait it out. However, this could prove extremely stressful and place a lot of pressure on you. The second option would be to contemplate not competing in college. In my opinion, this is a terrible choice if you enjoy competing! Thirdly, you can expand your search and find a school where you can compete. Reevaluate your goals and desires and be realistic. Identify different types of schools and different levels of programs than you have previously been considering. Because you are a senior, you should do this immediately. Identify numerous new schools that match your current athletic and academic levels of achievement.
4. Create a different means of outreach.
If emails are not working, try Twitter, give them a call, send a letter, or visit the campus and stop by their office to introduce yourself. Do what you have to do to get noticed. The goal is to start a conversation.
5. Enlist the help of your high school coach.
If you are not making progress on your own, enlist the help of your high school coach. Ask your current coach to review your list of schools and to offer truthful and critical feedback on what programs/schools are viable options for you. Also, ask them for suggestions to expand your list. After you reach out to these programs, ask your coach to send a follow-up email on your behalf identifying your personal strengths and potential as a runner. Be sure to make it easy for your high school coach to do this for you. Provide them with the contact information of the college coaches and all of the pertinent information they will need speak on positively your behalf.
6. Enlist the help of a third party.
If you are still not generating the type of response you are looking for, try to find an additional source of help. Contact current college runners you know at schools you have an interest in, alums who ran in college with a keen understanding of current recruiting trends, family friends with direct contacts to coaching staffs, and recruiting services with real connections and access to the inside. Enlist all of the help you can get -- you are competing for your future.
This is your senior this year, and if you want to compete in college but are not being recruited, you need to change your approach. You either need to start a more vigorous outreach campaign or redirect your focus to generate more interest in you as a recruit. Take advantage of the next few months to get noticed, recruited, and find the best fit for you.
Willy Wood boasts 26 highly successful years of NCAA Division I head coaching experience, two decades of which were spent at Columbia University. He recently developed a recruiting service designed specifically for high school track and field/ cross country athletes -- www.fasttrackrecruiting.com