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Forms from college coaches--Which truth to tell?

TheGFGTheGFG Registered User Posts: 6,219 Senior Member
Questionnaires from college coaches always worried me somewhat during the recruiting stage because you had a sense that they were a form of litmus test, i.e. there were "right" answers and "wrong answers" to certain questions like the famous "Do you love to win or hate to lose?" (Supposedly, saying you hate to lose demonstrates the drive coaches want to see. Who knew? Unfortunately, D didn't say that, because if she had truly hated to lose she'd have quit her sport by now, ha ha. Besides, I thought answering that way could make her sound like a sore loser. It seemed to me that a positive attitude of wanting to win was preferred. Alas, she never heard back from that coach.)

Now D is admitted and has to fill out a questionnaire for the coach of the school she will be competing for. Again, there are two questions that I suspect could be litmus tests to assess the nature of the athlete's competitive attitude, the strength of her commitment to team vs. individual goals, her degree of motivation and whether she's the sort of kid who is going to quit the team early on. Obviously, D would like to give the coach a good impression of herself. So, given that she doesn't actually have in mind a definite answer for these, which of several truths should she tell?

The first question is "Why do you run?" Let's suppose her real reason is something along the lines of she runs because she's good at it and enjoys doing well in races, and wanted the objective measure of a stopwatch as a defense from the local politics attached to sports like soccer. Does that signal a kid who will get too discouraged during a slump or period of injury and will quit? Someone who doesn't get along with people? I have heard that distance running coaches want to hear that you run because you love running. I don't think D actually LOVES running in and of itself. Her sister didn't either (preferred soccer, but was better at track), yet went on to a top Div. 1 team and stayed committed to it for all three season, all four years. So not loving it didn't actually reflect less motivation in D1's case and doesn't for D2 either. Thoughts on this one?

The second question asks what her favorite performance was and why. Let's say D has 4 performances that she likes best. Does she let him know she's a team player by choosing the team-related one, e.g. running on a school record relay squad? Even though she doesn't want to give him the idea that she likes relays, because she doesn't? Or does she pick an individual success? Should it be an actual "best" objectively, or one in which she overcame some adversity, such as a sleet storm or illness? Should it be a personal record even though the race itself had no other significance? Or a good but not great or record-setting race but that still won an important meet? I would imagine the coach would like to hear that D can come through at the high-pressure, championship-type meets. But those were actually not D's best and I wouldn't say she did come through all that well. Sigh. Help!
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Replies to: Forms from college coaches--Which truth to tell?

  • BobcatPhoenixBobcatPhoenix Registered User Posts: 128 Junior Member
    Don't overthink. Your D is already admitted and the coach will (hopefully) be spending four years with her. Anything you spin now will be found out later anyway.

    Just answer the questions honestly and move on. Let her answer how she wants. Really, what difference does it make? I expect that this questionnaire is just that; a way for the coaches to get some personal insight into their athletes. If it is not and is really some sort of final bar to clear, for me anyway I would start to worry we picked the wrong school.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 35,346 Senior Member
    I'd give the coach the benefit of the doubt, and assume they are asking in order to get insight into your daughter's thinking so they can coach her most effectively.
  • TheGFGTheGFG Registered User Posts: 6,219 Senior Member
    Well, to be honest I am worrying a little that we picked the wrong school. D wanted to be on a team where she could contribute early on, but did not want to be the star from the beginning. She rejected schools where she would have been the best on the team from day one, and also schools where she definitely wouldn't be good enough to run for them or where making the varsity squad would be iffy. Unfortunately, after admissions, this coach has been a bit intimidating in his communications and definitely made it crystal clear that being recruited means nothing to him as far as making the team. While she didn't expect a guarantee she'd be good enough for the travel squad as a freshman, she certainly didn't consider the fact she might not make the team at all! If she had known that, she would have made a different choice. Therefore I just don't want her to make any missteps. We know from experience that some coaches put a lot of stock in these sort of things, so letting her answer what she wants to is risky.
  • BobcatPhoenixBobcatPhoenix Registered User Posts: 128 Junior Member
    Wait, what? I have no idea how track (this is track, correct?) recruiting works, but why would a coach recruit an athlete that might not make the team? That seems crazy.

    Is it possible that your D is on the tail end of the list of recruits? If she is, then that is where she will be no matter how she answers the quiz, IMHO.
  • ChembiodadChembiodad Registered User Posts: 2,435 Senior Member
    edited May 2017
    Unless it's a D1 or D2 scholarship, usually coaches make it clear if they still have tryouts after admission - I know many D3 helmet sports, such as NESCAC soccer and lacrosse, still have tryouts after admission, and I know Middlebury and Williams track and XC teams have cut times.
  • TheGFGTheGFG Registered User Posts: 6,219 Senior Member
    edited May 2017
    No, D is not at the bottom of the recruits. She is among the top 4 girls and higher depending upon which event you look at. But as Chembiodad says, it's a question of "what have you done for me lately." She will have to submit a summer training log, which is a normal procedure for all college teams I think, but will also have a time trial in mid July that will determine early ranking and whether she is invited to their training camp. That worries me. Not that she won't train hard, but stuff happens in distance running that could impact a few weeks of your training but not your long term performance, eg. tendonitis or plantar fascititis. I would hate for her not to make the cut due to a temporary injury. Heck, my older D who ran for a top Div. 1 program and who WAS actually at the bottom of their talent pool and not a scholarship athlete, was still never told she had to try out all over again. And she certainly didn't have to prove herself before she even got on campus.
  • jumpermomjumpermom Registered User Posts: 94 Junior Member
    My daughter is a recruited track athlete for a D1 program and has not been asked to answer such questionnaires. I can see how that would would be intimidating. That coach would worry me as well. Is there any way your daughter could put out some feelers of current athletes on the team to see what their impression is of the coach? Maybe he is more bark than bite?
  • StartingblockStartingblock Registered User Posts: 53 Junior Member
    TheCFG - One interpretation of the information you have shared is that the coach is simply doing everything she/he can to ensure that your daughter shows up in in the fall ready to train hard and race fast. As you know from your older daughter, a big percentage of college freshman regress from their high school times/performances. That running log and time trial threat are common motivators to spur summer training. The coach does sound over the top but it also seems like an explainable situation to me.

    As for those questions, I agree with previous posters that being honest is the way to go. That coach gets paid to put the best teams she/he can on the track and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to make roster decisions based on answers to those very vanilla questions. I think coach just wants to know what makes a new athlete tick.

    Beyond some natural talent, track is all about training/effort. Any answers to coach’s questions that demonstrate that you daughter is ready to go to work --“I run because the more I put into the sport the more I get out of it” – feels like what I would want to hear as a coach.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 19,568 Senior Member
    I don't think they are trick questions or meant to sort out the team. It might be a way the coach assigns them to groups or to asst coaches, it might be that the coach wants to know how best to coach (inspiration, threats, early morning, solo or in pairs), it may just be a way for the coach to get to know the team before Aug. It wouldn't surprise me if my daughter's coach asked similar questions, but the players who show up in shape and having completed the summer training packet are the ones who are on the field. If any of them said "I play because of the scholarship" they'd still be the ones on the field (maybe with a few penalty laps at the end of practice).
  • TheGFGTheGFG Registered User Posts: 6,219 Senior Member
    To clarify, at this point I am not really concerned about the coach. He is serious and tough, which we like, and D decided on this school with this man as part of the equation. I guess I was just taken aback at his blunt letter which made it clear that despite being recruited, D wasn't going to automatically be on the team. Having been through this with my older D, I wasn't expecting a Div III team to have stricter policies than elite Div. I. Of course I understand no one is guaranteed a spot on the varsity or travel squad at any school, but I still thought she would be on the team regardless and could practice. The coach's letter just makes everything seem higher stakes now, and I don't want D to mess up inadvertently. All three of my kids were athletes, and we do know from experience that some coaches are superstitious and/or put a lot of stock in little signals so we want to send good ones.
  • ChembiodadChembiodad Registered User Posts: 2,435 Senior Member
    Plenty of D3 teams in the most competitive conference have tryouts and make cuts; furthermore, some separate lacrosse and soccer players into varsity and JV squads.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 4,573 Senior Member
    ^^jv seems not to exist in most sports anymore, which is too bad as many players could use that as a good transition to the college game (rather than riding the bench and learning by watching ).
    There may be a practice squad concept, but not a jv team that plays other jv teams. Jv did exist when I was in college, and it was part of the path to varsity for many, many players - especially the unrecruited.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 19,568 Senior Member
    One thing some teams are doing instead of jv is scheduling two games on one day. Daughter's sport only allows 17 'dates' to schedule games. Everyone knows that means 17 game, but the loophole is that is doesn't say 17 games, it says 17 dates. Some of the bigger teams have 35 players but only 12 on the field at one time and most teams rarely sub more than 5-6 players, so that means a lot of kids sitting on the bench. It's becoming more common for a team ranked in the top 10 to schedule 2 games on one day and the starters play the team ranked 15th and the bench players play the team ranked 60th. They are both official games with stats that count.

    Teams that have 20 players can't do this.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 4,573 Senior Member
    @twoinanddone , that's fascinating! And clever... Is that D1, D3? We didn't come across that at any D3 schools - but it's a great way to get the second team/practice squad real play. When I was in school, there was actually a JV roster and JV had its own schedule which often had different schools and dates than varsity. (And included the occasional game against a prep school in a sport like women's lax.)
  • ChembiodadChembiodad Registered User Posts: 2,435 Senior Member
    Several of the NESCAC schools list the JV teams separately. Middlebury has Men's and Women's soccer, Men's hockey and Women's lacrosse
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