What to expect on the other side of athletic recruiting

In all the reading I did to learn about athletic recruiting, I never read anything about what happens once the player is in college. I’m sure it varies by sport, but I thought we could give things we learned that might help kids in the middle of the process.

I’ll start – my son’s sport is soccer.

  • the competition doesn’t stop just because you’ve been recruited and are on the team.

        My son's school had an unusually large roster (possibly due to COVID) and in the preseason a couple of kids left the team voluntarily and a couple were cut.  These were kids that were once recruited.  
    
        Not everyone travels to games.  I expect it varies by school, but 10 players on my son's team don't travel with the team.
    
  • really know what you want out of recruiting. Targeting well is important!

        Do you want to play on the highest ranked team, or do you want to be one of the strongest players on a lower ranked team?  I have seen tremendous players, players good enough to be recruited to top D1 programs get zero -- ZERO! -- playing time over 3 years.  (I've also seen freshmen start at top D1 programs, so again, targeting is important).  I think it's a shame that some of the best players in the country aren't able to play the game.  (Understanding that some kids are ok with this, but I'd guess other kids are not).
    
  • you’ll have an immediate and built in group of friends, and will know the campus before things really get started.

So, that’s what I’ve got after preseason and two games: target well, and expect competition once you arrive at the school. What are some other insights?

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This is DD’s 1st semester and I agree with the fact that she already has a built-in college “family,” so to speak. Since Day 1 she and the other freshmen recruits have made it a point to eat a few meals together, as well as do some skills work on their own. Once the rest of the team came back to campus, they have been extremely great about getting together socially as a team (as well as with the other varsity teams on campus).

Don’t get the false impression that playing a D3 sport will be easy when the team is not “in season.” DD plays a spring sport and they are currently doing team lifts, as well as full practices, following what their conference and the NCAA allow. I don’t think she realized it was going to be like this from the get-go (coach wasn’t sure either with Covid) but she was pleasantly surprised to discover that they do a lot in the off-season.

I was very happy to know that the coach is very accessible and wanted to hear from us if we discovered any issues with our DD (homesickness, trouble with classes, not feeling well, etc), and is also very accessible to DD, as well. She was told to call/text any time if she needed anything.

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I’ll be following this topic with great interest. I’d love a sense of a student athletes scheduled team activities, both in season and in the off-season.

DS plays football in the SEC. I can tell you there is no off season lol. There are way too many parts to cover from season, practice, classes etc…to go into without it becoming a novel. If you have any particular questions I’d be glad to answer as best I can.

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My daughter had a built in set of friends, but sometimes that’s too much too. She liked the work outs but didn’t enjoy all the meals together, all the ‘team building’ activities the coach planned (it was really over the top), so daughter joined a sorority and really liked having the excuse to do something else - with both groups. “Sorry, I can’t have dinner with you because I have a sorority meeting.” or “Sorry, I can’t go for ice cream because I have practice.” It really worked out well for her! She’s likes a lot of time to herself. For her second year, she picked roommates from a different athletic team (softball) after one of her sorority sisters transferred schools. She went back to lax teammates for roommates her third year, but they lived off campus and were more independent.

Having the team gave her a lot of structure for her first year in college. Her coach/school required study tables for 8 hours per week until the correct gpa was reached. Daughter really learned how to schedule her week as they also had lifting at 5:30 am a few days per week. She was in the library until 9 and then in bed by 10 or earlier. Many of her teammates took naps every day but she had classes and labs. Some of her teammates were party girls but daughter tended not to hang out with them as she needs her sleep.

She played a spring sport and the coach was new to the school, so didn’t make a great schedule. Coach scheduled 3 weekends in a row as out of state, on a bus, trips. That was grueling and the entire team was exhausted. For the next 3 years, the schedule was better.

Daughter played lax, and in hs they play two 25 minute halfs, but in college it is two 30 minute halfs. You’d be surprised how much difference 5 minutes makes, especially if you are a middy (daughter was) and running for the entire game. Take those summer workout programs seriously!

It’s hard for some freshmen who were always the BEST on their teams since they were in grade school to suddenly be the new kid, the back up, not get any playing time. All they can do is work hard. We had a goalie who couldn’t get over being beaten for the starting job as she’d always been the star. College is another level.

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Absolutely agree that the competition never stops – to get in the rotation, to get a starting spot, to get conference honors etc. And just because a kid was a starter one year doesn’t mean they have a guaranteed a starting spot the next year – as others have said, as soon as a student commits to a school, the coach is out recruiting that player’s replacement. There is always someone right behind you, eager to show they can do it better, faster, smarter.

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I’m lucky enough to not be a super competitive person, but I’ve seen quite a few people destroyed by this. My team has some superstar freshmen, and the pressure is certainly on for the rest of us. However, I think a sports team at a residential college is such a unique experience because we really are each other’s families.

Some other things I’ve noticed:

  • in high school, I was able to still do tons of extracurriculars, but my sport has tons of built-in stuff. Everything really adds up, and the people who are involved in stuff outside the team (they certainly exist) get no sleep and generally don’t attend social functions or anything optional
  • I walked on to my team, was recruited to others but chose not to attend. Recruiting status completely stopped mattering once I arrived, and everything was about how you’re doing that day.
  • There are no breaks. Our mandated days off are used to catch up on schoolwork or have meetings that don’t count towards CARA
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