Non NCAA recruiting

I’m stuck at home on this snow day and starting to vaguely think about S25 and college. He is a highly ranked climber (stronger in bouldering but strong in lead as well) and would like to go to a college with a strong team.

I know his coaches have relationships with UW, Gonzaga, and U of Utah but S23 is more interested in somewhere like Wake Forest or Notre Dame. He’s still just a sophomore (although he was born 40 years old) so way early days but I’m wondering if he should be reaching out to the teams at these schools as a junior next year or just bringing it up on visits? We know there aren’t scholarships. This may be the wrong group to ask but how would you approach this process? Thanks!

I don’t know this sport, but I would start with the official org that runs college competions.

My guess is that it is not that different from other sports.

First step is to see if there is a recruiting form and fill that out, following with an introductory email to the coach AND any assistant coaches. Make sure the subject says “Name, HS '25, Rank/position/specialty.” The goal is to grab the attention of the coach off the bat. If high academic stats, make sure to include that info in the email.

I don’t know if there are rules around contact with a recruit. NCAA prevents D1 coaches from contacting athletes directly until Jun 15th before Jr. year.

You might find this FB group helpful. (is this allowed?)

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Thanks, we’re very familiar with USA Climbing and have been involved with them for years. There are many college teams which my son has compiled a list of, but my question has more to do with how we should approach coaches, whether there is recruiting at all, etc. We know about the big west coast schools and his coaches have connections there, but any advice about lesser known teams outside the west would be really great if anyone knows. I realize it’s a niche sport.

Appreciate your post though!

I think it is fine for him to reach out to coaches prior to visiting a college.


Awesome thank you and thanks for the link!

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I don’t know anything about this specifically, but the good and bad thing is that it isn’t an NCAA sport. Bad because far less likely that the coach has pull with admissions, but good because you don’t have 500 NCAA rules to worry about. I would compose an email and athletic resume similar to what is advised for NCAA sports, and contact coaches, asking if they recruit. My suspicion is that the responses will be more like “I can’t help, but would love to have you on our team if you come here!” but maybe not.

Either way it doesn’t hurt to have some contact. If it is something very important to him then talking to coaches could end up being a factor in deciding where to apply, even if the coach can’t sway admissions.


Thanks! It is extremely important to him that he find a good team. He’s at the gym nearly every day and the team is the center of his social life.

I’m not necessarily looking for pull with admissions, although that would be great, but he’s going to want to know a lot about the environment.

So, some colleges where climbing is a club sport, there may not be coaches.
If there are coaches, they may be chosen by the student officers.
A club may be run by student officers. That appears to be the case at Notre Dame, but one would have to inquire directly.

At Wake Forest it appears tied in to USA Climbing participation, with coach and advisor chosen by student officers. Can see the constitution and bylaws, which describe how dues payimg students may vote for the officers.

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At some colleges the admissions officers may be able to provide contact information for the climbing coach/club.

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Gotcha. That makes sense. My daughter was envisioning club soccer at her school being girls like her, who may have been on the cusp of playing low level college, and were competitive, but just didn’t want to have the commitment of a varsity sport. Instead it was more of a social club, with girls who didn’t really know how to play organized soccer. She ended up joining the crew team instead.


Good for her! My daughter has a friend who’s going to be on crew (is that the way to say it?) at an Ivy next year, she is amazing.

I know in much of the country climbing isn’t all that well known but it is an Olympic sport now and “under consideration” at the NCAA. It won’t be approved in the next few years though. But for the kids that compete seriously it’s every bit as demanding as a national level runner or swimmer, which are probably the best comparisons. Except climbing is year round. So the seriousness of the team is important for him.


Definitely depends on the school and sport. For instance, my D21 had offers to play varsity lacrosse, but ultimately chose a school where there is not a varsity team. She is on the club team which had tryouts and more than 30 girls were cut. Definitely not a social club.

Agree. Crew technically club at her school, although they compete mostly against varsity teams. We are both highlighting the need for OP’s kiddo to check out the climbing clubs because club sport varies from being essentially a drinking club to being a team with cuts who can compete against mediocre D3’s at least.