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ISO: Opinions on Rowing Recruitment Consultants

MarkBassMarkBass Registered User Posts: 252 Junior Member
edited November 2013 in Athletic Recruits
Has anyone used the services of consultants such as Sparks or The Rower's Edge?


Post edited by MarkBass on

Replies to: ISO: Opinions on Rowing Recruitment Consultants

  • elileoelileo Registered User Posts: 98 Junior Member
    I know of one family in our club who worked with Rower's Edge; they were very happy with the service and the results (h/w son --a very good rower, not a big guy, not a very competitive student, but medals and development/selection camps under his belt-- now at the Ivy of his choice). Apparently the full-court press, from identifying schools to strategy to prepping rower on emails and phone conversations to consulting with him on the official visits, negotiations with coaches in the early fall of his senior year, etc. The family felt that RE understood the process and helped guide them through the rocks and shoals. Rower was done and dusted by Oct. 1. It was effective.... but not cheap (!). P.S. We relied on CC for initiation and guidance through the recruit process, and that's a great way to go too! Much wonderful advice, and I'm taking the opportunity now to thank all the good people who supplied it to us this last year.
  • MarkBassMarkBass Registered User Posts: 252 Junior Member
    Thanks very much!

    RE: "Not cheap." Yeah, I got a quote from one. Lawyer-level fees.
  • beenthere2beenthere2 Registered User Posts: 456 Member
    Not necessary at all. You and your rower can easily do this. Identify potential schools, contact the coaches, and keep on improving the erg time.
  • mayhewmayhew Registered User Posts: 643 Member
    ^^I agree with beenthere2. I don't believe these services are necessary if you and your rower are willing to put in the time and effort.
    When we were going through the D1 rowing recruiting process, we had a couple of coaches tell us they never work with recruiting services/agents, and would not continue the process with a potential recruit who was insisted on being represented by one.
    However, that is not to say that Rowers Edge/Sparks don't do a great job. There is definitely a market for them, clearly. I myself have no first hand experiences with services like these.
    The only expense we put forward, other than making unofficial visits with coaches/schools before OVs began, was the cost of a berecruited membership :)
  • beenthere2beenthere2 Registered User Posts: 456 Member
    Invest in a US Rowing membership. Then have your rower submit national team test scores via the web site and also go to an ID camp.
  • FrancoisVFrancoisV Registered User Posts: 41 Junior Member
    Put together an athletic resume that lists academic and rowing stats with contact information. Easy for your rower to refer to/send to coaches. Update GPA, class rank, SAT/SAT II/ACT scores, erg scores, and racing results as they become available.
  • MarkBassMarkBass Registered User Posts: 252 Junior Member
    Thanks folks! Much appreciated.
  • beenthere2beenthere2 Registered User Posts: 456 Member
    Have your rower handle all the interaction with the coaches and personalize the emails (something nice about the program). Just make sure not to mix up the schools/coaches once the exchanges get going :)
  • pacheightpacheight Registered User Posts: 1,168 Senior Member
    Mark: Best way for your athlete to be recruited is to win! My daughter's boat won most of their 2000m races her sophomore year in high school. 6 of the 9 went to selection that summer. By the start of their junior year everyone on the boat was already known by many top college coaches. Winning is the best resume an athlete can have!
  • sparksconsultsparksconsult Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    Hi folks!

    We read this thread (are flattered we're being talked about!) and wanted to clarify a few things:

    1. Sparks is not a recruiting service or agency. This differs greatly from the other firms out there; it is an important difference in that the NCAA defines "recruiting services" as those that contact coaches on client's behalf. We are ardent in our belief that the kids should be the ones making contact - not us - it's a better usage of the process for the student's character development and to be honest, coaches DO find those who reach out on student-athletes behalf annoying. We know this well as former collegiate coaches.

    2. The problem some kids face is not getting "ID'd." We have had plenty of junior national team and even Olympic kids - US and otherwise - as clients. The issue we work to help families address is where kids will find the best "fit" in terms of coaching pedagogy and collegiate culture - both specific to the rowing program and the college as a whole. This underlines our philosophy that the best undergraduate educations are marked by character development determined not by brand, but kids' experience at the school and with the rowing program. We don't place faith in the US News concept of "universal best schools." (or even rowing programs, for that matter)

    3. We believe beenthere is correct in their philosophy on getting ID'd - we have a site with free, detailed information about that at www.rowingrecruiting.com - we would however caution against the idea that universal solution to recruiting lies in winning or performance as a junior given the pressure this places on athletes to perform as opposed to getting to know a sport many have just entered in the past 3 years. In fact, some college coaches will be more cautious with athletes from well known high performing junior programs given the recruiting coaches' goal is not to find someone who has reached (or been pushed to) their peak in high school, but someone who will be consistent in their improvement through four years of college.

    We wish you all the best!

    - The team at Sparks Consulting
  • PuddleDadPuddleDad Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    We have several kids involved in rowing. The sport and the folks involved with the sport have had a meaningful impact on each of them. We started working with Sparks a few years ago. Ryan Sparks has surrounded himself with extraordinary high quality coaches and mentors, with an emphasis on mentoring. While his team have helped my kids become better athletes and navigate the recruiting process, they more importantly, have helped them find purpose in rowing. And that sense of purpose, and understanding the value of purpose, has extended into other parts of their lives. They pursue sports, academics, and life with more purpose and the Sparks people had a significant role in shaping this outcome. In my experience, this outcome overwhelmingly trumps the focus on erg scores and the recruiting process, but if this outcome is achieved, then the erg scores and recruiting process will work themselves out to their best and natural outcome.
  • PosAttitudePosAttitude Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    To say our experience with them was not a good one would be a gross understatement.

    We were asked to pay a huge deposit up front. My S was then assigned an untrained former rowing coach who racked up countless hours with phone calls for which she was unprepared and often distracted (she once called from the playground -- intermittently yelling at her children while my S tried to get her advice). We asked for a refund and were told we could try again with a different consultant. At this point, our S was in his junior year and time, which could never be recovered, was passing quickly. We declined and asked for a refund but were told our money would not be refunded -- nor the "expenses" justified with a billable hours record of any kind -- despite the company's acknowledgement that our experience had not met their standards.

    Tbh, I believe this firm preys on the insecurities and inexperience of rowers' parents. The principals promise things they cannot and do not deliver, and then they refuse to refund money they admit they haven't earned. They count on the same parents' fear that their child will be blackballed by the close-knit community of rowing coaches in order to preserve a "reputation" for helping families which they do NOT deserve. I consider this both unprofessional and unethical conduct.

    All the information and advice you need is available on the internet (we know because we found it!). When they tell you otherwise, put your hand on your wallet.
  • tonymomtonymom Registered User Posts: 1,156 Senior Member
    You don't need any of these services if you are willing to do the research yourself. Plenty of info out there and on CC.
  • sparksconsultsparksconsult Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    edited February 2017
    Hello again,

    We definitely feel families can undertake the recruiting process on their own depending on their goal sets. Managing expectations can be tough given bias and lack of experience, however it can be learned.

    That said our own goal set doesn't see an "admit" as a successful endpoint - we see admits as a byproduct of a larger process that seeks to explore the potential transformational outcomes based on the intersection between student personality and specific athletic and university cultures.

    Managing expectations takes up the bulk of what we do, though when paired with the idea that the undergraduate student experience is unique to each student and developmental in a holistic sense, it's a different school of thought of college counseling. We don't really advertise our north of 90% first choice admit rate over the last seven years or the names of schools where our clients are accepted given we believe each clients' placement is as unique to each client as the characteristics of the athletic and academic environments that best lend themselves to clients' overall development.

    That is how we best help clients.

    For other thoughts on us, we refer our Google reviews - https://****/nUO6sY


    - The team at Sparks Consulting
  • classicalmamaclassicalmama Registered User Posts: 2,261 Senior Member
    I agree that paying a consulting group is not necessary. However, the advice of college coaches--or recruited college athletes--can be invaluable in the recruiting process. My athlete got excellent guidance and advice when he went to US Dev. Camp the summer between sophomore and junior year. The coach made it a point to give all of the athletes solid advice (based on performance and academics) on which colleges were in range for them as recruits. For that reason, I strongly agree with @beenthere2 about going to ID camp.

    Also, FWIW, in our family's experience, 2k times, academics, and (to a lesser extent) height were more important to coaches than being on a winning boat.
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