When to ask about NESCAC coach's level of support?

When is it appropriate (how early in the process) to ask a coach specific questions about their level of support? 2023 daughter is in regular communication (emails and phone calls) with two top NESCAC coaches. Both have told her she’s a “top recruit” but as we know from others’ experiences, that is no guarantee. One has said “I would love to have you here and look forward to doing an early preread on 7/1.” She has very good grades, good rigor from competitive high school, but only a 31 on [ACT] (taking it again in June). She has another phone call set up with one of these coaches next week. Since it’s only the end of March, is it appropriate to ask these support/slot questions now- such as how many supported slots do you get, do you anticipate offering a slot, what percent of supported slots get accepted ED, etc. Is there a chance that could “turn off” a coach asking them now? I just feel she needs to have realistic expectations and know how much to expand her search, or how wide to cast her net. Thanks!

I think it’s appropriate to ask what her standing is, and where the coach is in their process. Based on how they answer those questions, that kind of dictates what other questions are appropriate for you to ask at this point. But I think those questions are an ice breaker that open up a bigger conversation.

It’s very possible they’ll give an evasive answer. And if that’s the case, it probably means they are putting together a list and not sure where or if she fits in. It doesn’t mean they won’t be interested, most of these coaches are trying to get someone who should be D1 who falls through the cracks. They just might have another person at her position they think they still have an outside shot out so they’re not willing to commit to giving your daughter a position. It’s also possible that that conversation could lead to her getting an offer pending a successful preread. That’s probably the range you are working with.

When coaches thought my son was waiting to make a decision, no one was extending offers or talking about that. But once the first offer came in, a bunch of others came in right away. I’m sure several of those would have been available earlier if he had asked. But up until that point he was content to be one of the many people they were talking to, and they were content with that as well.

He had a buddy who also wanted to commit early, but was in a different position and had to wait for several months for other pieces to fall into place. Ultimately he still got an offer though. The coaches are all trying to put together the best team they can. If your daughter is likely part of that best team, they will probably be happy to lock her down sooner rather than later. For most people though, they are kind of in that second cut so it depends on who else they are talking to and what other commits they get to decide who ultimately fills out the recruiting class.

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Apologies on my reply in the other thread—I skimmed your post too quickly and just assumed this was the first call.

I think if there’s a relationship it’s totally fine to get a sense of status. I’ve found just asking
…when do you expect to make a decision on who to support and might I be in that picture is usually enough to get a clear reply, but it’s okay to drill down. Evasiveness could just be that the coach is still figuring things out.

I would keep exploring options though no matter what. Two potential fits isn’t enough unless there’s a plan B. Just as an example, coaches move around a lot, usually in the summer. Good friend of ours was a very strong recruit, had things narrowed to two good P5 programs going into senior summer and felt golden. Coach at school 1 was fired. Coach at school 2 went silent. It was a rough month and then all became clear: coach 2 was hired at school 1 and everything worked out. But it wasn’t a given.

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Thanks, yes that makes sense. NESCACs typically don’t make offers until July 1st or later, but trying to get a “sense” now of where she falls on “list” other than “a top recruit”.

Thanks, no worries! Yes, we’re continuing to explore options and visit schools; sick of traveling, to be honest! I agree two “good possibilities” aren’t enough, especially since they’re such high academic schools. She just feels so uncertain that we’re hoping another phone call and more clear info. will help her feel more secure, though we know there is no given.

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It sounds like you’re on the right track. Definitely can be exhausting so hang in there!

One thing I think can help at this point if there are recruiting lulls, is to spend a bit of time exploring the non-recruiting option. You’re probably already doing that. But if not, it’s something that can provide some comfort to the recruit and the feeling of “doing something” to parents. Just knowing that, say, the state flagship and club sports (for example) could be an okay option helps sometimes. Of course, not if the recruiting is taking all the free time available. Rest and relaxation is important too.

Good luck!

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I doubt you will be able to get more clarity at this point, things are just way too fluid. Coaches are waiting to see how d1 shakes out, how kids continue to look playing in the Spring, and how the prereads will go after July 1. You can believe them that your daughter is a top recruit-- but, the question is, how many kids are in the “top recruit” pool? It may be 10 players, it may be 50 - 100. I doubt any coach would tell anyone the size of their recruit pool.

This is why recruiting is SO STRESSFUL!!! It is a hugely uncertain process! Hang in there. I think it was around this time that I started a thread titled “Recruiting Is Not For The Faint Of Heart”, so I know what you are going through.

That said, your daughter can certainly ask how the process will unfold, where the coach is in his/her process, if the coach says “top recruit” she can ask the coach what “top recruit” means etc etc.

Hang in there!

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Thanks, that’s helpful, and that’s what we’re thinking. We think she’s going to ask “process” questions and try and drill down more on the “top recruit” statement they’ve made several times. It sounds like a lot of times coaches don’t even know who they’re necessarily giving those coveted slots to until the pre-read and depending on what admissions says. I’m going to check out your other thread; it’s definitiely not for the faint of heart and so incredibly stressful!

We didn’t do NESCAC, but went through the recruiting process at D3 schools. In our experience, the most clear and honest assessments came after visits and pre-reads in the summer/early fall — after coaches had gone through the visit/pre-read process with most/all of their “top recruits.”

We asked more general questions about number of spots, etc., earlier (around now), but saved “where do I stand” until later in the year.

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So, it sounds like you would like some certainty at this point, but it may be too early to ask for that. You are going to want to keep in touch with the coach, in any event. Ask whether the coach is planning to submit a pre-read request for the recruit. The answer to this question will tell you a lot. If the coach says “no,” well. . . . If the coach says “yes” (and a yes can suggest an offering the waiting - if indeed she is a top recruit), you could ask what the time line is for the pre-read.

That can give you a lot of information. Of course, remember a lot can happen is a short period of time when commitments happen. An Ivy recruit can drop into the coach’s lap. Another recruit might not pass a pre-read at another school. A talented player thinking of stopping playing gets the itch again.

Best of luck.

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I don’t think NESCACs can do pre-reads before 7/1. But you can proactively send your transcript and tenative list of next year’s classes to both a) let the coach know you are academically qualified, and b) to keep the conversation going.

Coaches will answer direct questions when asked. So don’t be hesitant about asking “where am I ranked in your list for my position?”. They will be managing dozens of kids at this point, which they will continue to whittle down. But knowing whether you are really a “top 3” recruit or just a “top recruit” is helpful to gauge real interest. Remember, though that the #s are really small at the end of the day. They are looking for 5-9 recruits, which may be only 1-2 players per position if it’s a team sport.

Also, just because you are a top recruit now doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Schools that seem really interested may find a player and then all of the sudden start ghosting or tell you out of the blue that they are no longer interested. So you really need to work multiple schools. It also helps to your advantage to be talking to competing schools, as that also instills a bit of FOMO in the coaches, even if some of those schools aren’t necessarily your top choices at this point.

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Thanks, agreed. I looked back at my daughter’s notes from her last phone call with one of these coaches and when my daughter asked her what was the timeline and where she stood (this was in early Feb) the coach said she was “narrowing down the pool and you’re at the top of the list.” We then scheduled a visit for the end of February and my daughter met the team, hung out with them, we talked with the coaches, got a tour, etc. It went great and coach emailed her after that both the coaches and team thought she’d be a great fit. Again, no guarantees, but by talking to coach again next week on phone she hopes to gain better understanding of pre-read, how many they’re taking through pre-read, and ideally drill town on “top of list” statement.
The other school daughter has also talked with coach on phone, and we also toured, daughter had lunch with the team and we talked with coach. Went extremely well and that coach told her she’s taking 10-12 throught pre-read and that she is a “top recruit.” For that one, daughter is waiting until after another visit there in April to ask for another call and drill further down.
Just to clarify, she is also in conversations with several other coaches, but these are her definite top two.
Thanks!

As others have said, pre-reads can’t happen until 7/1 (don’t at me with examples of NESCAC pre-reads/commits that have happened before 7/1 of senior year, those are outliers), and the coach will likely ask admissions for pre-reads on far more athletes than they have slots for. Your D wants to hear she has the coach’s full support thru the admissions process, as compared to soft support. Coaches can use different terms for the full vs soft support spots. An ED app is often required in cases of full support.

You will never have certainty until your athlete has the formal acceptance letter in hand. Meanwhile your D should continue doing what she’s doing, and ultimately (if offered a fully supported slot after a positive pre-read) should ask the coach what has been the historical acceptance rate of recruits with the same level of support. If you need financial aid to make things work, some schools will do a financial aid pre-read too.

I would encourage your D to cast a wide net, because things can change dramatically in the summer and fall. I also strongly encourage athletes to apply to one or two safety schools in the fall, just in case things don’t work out in ED.

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Yes, understood. When you say things can change dramatically in summer and fall, I understand that as you said, until acceptance is in hand, nothing is truly guaranteed, but do things typically chance after a verbal offer (with full support) and an athlete accepts and agrees to apply ED? I would think that would be bad look for the coach. Before any kind of offer, yes, I would think things are still fluid.

IME more athletes reneg on verbal offers than coaches. In NESCAC/D3 level, one risk is the coach takes a new job, and new coach or school doesn’t honor outstanding verbals. Fair to ask coach in the recruiting process if their intent is to remain with the program for the foreseeable future. Of course, none would tell you if they are looking, and many would take a better job if one was offered. But still a fair question for a prospect to ask.

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I think you can take it that your daughter truly is a top recruit. Those campus visits, where you meet the team etc take time and resources for the coaches/team. So they aren’t bringing 100 kids through for this, only the ones they are really interested in.

I would shift your focus away from getting clarity at this point. You already have good information about where your daughter stands. And even if you could get more clarity tomorrow, it isn’t information you can really rely on because things are in flux right now.

I completely agree with the advice to be casting a wide net! But it also sounds like your daughter will get multiple offers – especially if she is speaking with schools that are “safeties” for her sport.

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Really helpful, thank you. I hope it’s ok that she asked one of the coach’s for another call next week. I’ll suggest she just stick with timing of pre-read and what info. for pre-read questions. That would still be helpful info.

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It’s fine she asked for the call! Coaches want players who want to be at their school.

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You are doing everything right. It is important, however, to keep communicating with the coaches. Think of all the posts that ask what it means when the coach stops communicating. Then think what the coach might think if your daughter just stops communicating.

Please do remember exactly what the coach “offers” with an offer. You get coach support (from the coach, not the adcom) in exchange for agreeing to apply early. You are not getting an agreement from the school or adcom of admission. While most recruits are admitted when the coach supports them, it does happen from time to time that recruits are not admitted.

This may cause a lot of emotional highs and lows. There is nothing that will cure this - other than ultimately gaining admission. The best you can do is to secure a “green light” pre-read and ask the coach where you are ranked on the list. But, you may get the “a top recruit” response - which often doesn’t say that much. Follow up by asking how many recruits who are on the same spot on the list have been admitted, deferred and rejected by the adcom. Also ask for the coach’s prediction of admission. I think that this is the best that you are going to get, and maybe that’s okay. After all, it is hard to get into really good colleges and universities.

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Uncertainty is unfortunately part of the process.

We had coaches sound enthusiastic and then go silent, never to be heard from again. We had completely given up on others only to get a call out of the blue inviting us to visit in the fall!

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