Among the many tasks of high school athletic directors, helping athletes and their parents through the recruiting process can occupy a significant amount of time. Some administrators, in fact, have indicated that recruiting issues account for 15 to 25 percent of their time.
In many cases, athletic directors spend most of their time managing misinformation that parents had regarding recruiting. Walking the fields of middle school athletic contests, it is common to hear inaccurate information being shared between parents in the stands.
Tim Weir, men’s assistant lacrosse coach at Manhattanville College and assistant for Ireland’s national men’s team, echoes what is heard from many college coaches and high school athletic directors.
“The most popular misconception that today’s parents have is that their child will get a full scholarship,” Weir said. “If they knew how many scholarships each NCAA sport had (there are 10.8 scholarships available for Division II lacrosse programs which easily carry 20-22 players), it might make many conversations much shorter and easier. Most coaches, including myself, try to divide our scholarships into partial awards.”
Being proactive is the most important step in the recruiting process for athletic directors. If they can devote some time and money early in the school year, they can avoid being reactive to parental questions and concerns later in the year. Parents and athletes need to be given accurate recruiting information. A simple three-step process followed by the individual responsible for athletics can be the foundation for creating a tremendous amount of goodwill within the district.
STEP 1 – Have meetings to present your expectations regarding recruiting – first with coaches, then with the parents of all athletes.
Bill Bruno, former Brick (New Jersey) Memorial High School athletic director, used a proactive approach with his coaches and parents. In preseason meetings with his coaches, he clarified his expectations and had them follow a system that was consistent and manageable. In addition, he would hold meetings with student-athletes and their parents, in which he presented basic recruiting information. The goal of these meetings was to avoid any false expectations the parents had of the district’s staff or of the recruiting process.
STEP 2 – Provide outside resources for the presentation of accurate information about the recruiting process.
There is no shortage of recruiting services that can be hired to meet the needs of athletes who are being recruited; however, these services can be expensive and typically do not meet the individual needs of the family.
Wayne Mazzoni, NCAA coach and recruiting expert of Getrecruited.net, agrees. He posts an article on his site with “17 Reasons All Recruiting Services Are a Waste...” There are numerous speakers who can be an economical option to provide parents with specific information and the necessary steps to take regarding the recruiting process. The small cost of a speaker every year or so can reduce the amount of time spent dealing with recruiting issues, preparing and presenting the information. It also dispels the notion that the information is the opinion of a district employee, and instead offers the facts in an unbiased, professional manner.
STEP 3 – Create a detailed source of information using the staff available within your district.
“No one of us is as smart as all of us,” noted Ken Blanchard in his book ‘The Heart of a Leader.’ This is the basic premise behind Step No. 3. The coaches, guidance department and technology staff can combine their knowledge to educate your athletes and their families regarding the recruiting process. At a minimum, a basic brochure could be created, although the best plan might be to construct a website with this vital information.
To construct the webpage, coaches could share their knowledge and ideas, and a technology person would determine the format of the page. Each year, feedback from coaches and parents would help to improve the site. Another possibility would be to include an area where parents could post their recruiting experiences.
Each school district and the families within those districts is different. There is no one system that fits all situations. A proactive, consistent approach that uses a little time and money, as well as the resources available within the district and which is updated each year, can pay big dividends in the future.
This type of concerted effort would help to better inform those families that might otherwise choose to send their children out of district looking for private institutions to meet their needs. This plan would help foster goodwill within the district by creating better opportunities for the future of its children.
Bill O’Neill is a former high school athletic director, collegiate basketball coach, and high school varsity football, basketball and track head coach. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on recruiting presentations to high schools and families.