Athletic Resume Writing
Athletic recruiting resumes were all the rage back in the 80”s and early 90’s. The Internet didn’t exist and the only way to communicate your information to college coaches was via a recruiting resume sent in the mail. How times have changed. There is still a place for the resume, so let’s talk about some of the things you can include and where you might use them.
In 1973 Dave Winfield, the former major league baseball player graduated from the University of Minnesota. At 6″7″ and 250 pounds, Winfield was an imposing figure in the athletic world. Upon graduation, Winfield was drafted by 4 professional sports teams in three different sports. He was drafted by the San Diego Padres (baseball), the Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and Utah Stars (ABA) and the Minnesota Vikings (football). Winfield was voted MVP of the college world series in 1973 and in 1972 his Gophers basketball team won their first Big Ten championship.
Winfield’s athletic resume in college was impressive and gave pro teams lots of stats. It was missing just one thing though, football stats! You might be interested to learn that Dave Winfield did not even play football in college. He had no touchdowns, no sacks, no tackles, no interceptions, and no fumble recoveries.
Many parents and students are now asking me, Do I still need a recruiting resume and what should I put on it? The answer, maybe and it depends.
Dave Winfield was able to get recruited to a professional football team with no stats to speak of. If he tried to create a football resume, it would have said College World Series MVP and 6’7″ – 250 pounds and the rest would have been blank!
Parents are obsessed with stats. In most cases they want to create a 2 page resume that has every stat their son or daughter has ever accumulated in high school. The problem is college coaches do not recruit stats and stats tell them very little about you as an athlete or as a person. One of the best quotes I saw from a college coach was as follows. “There are like 20,000 high schools that have a boys varsity basketball team in the country, and thus there are 20,000 leading scorers for every team. But just because those 20,000 kids lead their team in scoring doesn’t mean they will get recruited or can get recruited even though they have the best stats on their team!”
I myself played one year of high school baseball, and my stats were not that impressive, but I had a great arm and glove (an impossible stat to display on a piece of paper), I could dunk a basketball at 5’10” (hard to display athletic ability through stats), and for fun I used to catch fly balls in the outfield using my bare hand (they don’t have a stat for this!) Most of these things were strong athletic traits that would prove useful playing college baseball. Somehow I managed to walk on and start at a Division I baseball program without any high school stats of any significance.
Dave Winfield got drafted in football because he was an amazing athlete and really tall, and really fast, and really strong and really big. He also had the fortune of being able to display his skills to pro scouts for several years in college.
So what role can a resume play?
A resume can play several roles. A resume can be used to give to coaches you might come in contact with at tournaments, camps or clinics, tryouts, or showcases. It should be used as a supplement to what I will explain in the next paragraph. If you are going to an event, grab 30 resume’s and keep them in the car. You never know when you will need to hand it out. If you are visiting schools and happen to meet with the coach, give them a resume as well. They may have your information already, but it will serve as a refresher. I attended a football camp to watch the son of a parent who had purchased a book. During one of the breaks in camp activity the head coach from one of the colleges approached the father and asked about his son. The father reached into a notebook he had and pulled out a resume for his son and handed it to the coach. The coach had all the information he needed in seconds and the coach filed it away in his notebook. When asked what type of college his son might be interested in, he said “his mom would love it if he attended a Liberal Arts College!” It was a great open-ended answer to a college coach who coached at a “Liberal Arts College.”
In reality, most if not all college teams have an online recruit form on their team’s website. This form will allow you to submit information to college coaches that will be sent right to them. The online recruit form is an important first step in the recruiting process. Filling out this form signifies to the college coach that you are interested in possibly playing for their program and found their school by doing your own research. You will not get recruited by simply filling out this form, but you probably won’t get recruited if you don’t fill out this form. The form and information you are submitting are simply a way to get on a coaches radar screen, a way of saying, coach this is who I am, this is where I am, this is what I do and I am interested in possibly playing for your program.
Many families want to throw stats at a college coach and say coach, look at these stats, my son/daughter leads their team in goals or scoring, and won the league MVP, and hit .400 for their summer team, and scored 20 goals in field hockey, and ran for 12 touchdowns, and was 9-0 in tennis matches, and had 14 rebounds vs. [insert high school here].
None of that matters!
These numbers don’t tell coaches how athletic you are, how driven you are, how hard you work, how good a teammate you are and so forth. These are the things college coaches need to know and they cannot be easily conveyed via an athletic resume. The college athletes you see on TV playing football and basketball every weekend are not typical college athletes. Most college coaches try to recruit strong academic students who have a passion for playing athletics and want to come to THEIR school.
Are there sports where stats can be useful?
Sports like swimming, track and field, or golf have tangible stats (times or distances) that can be turned into something meaningful. Your 100 meter dash time is your 100 meter dash time, it is something that can be compared to something else and interpreted in a meaningful way. Same with swimming. If you swim a certain event in a certain time, take those times and compare them to different college swimming programs. Golf is a little tricky, because a golf handicap is often manipulated or lower if you always play at your home course, so college coaches in most cases will look at your tournament scores on a local, state, and national level.
So what about other sports?
What if you were a field goal kicker and successfully kicked 5 out of 15 field goals? Would you want to list those stats on a resume? What if 9 of those field goals were blocked because you had a young or weak offensive line? What if you were 1-20 hitting on your baseball or softball team, would you want to list that you are an .050 hitter? What if 18 of your at-bats were fly-outs to the warning track in center field 400 feet away (balls you just missed or hit to the wrong place?).
What if you were a goalie and went 7-10? Would that stat help you get recruited? What if your defense consisted of underclassmen or key defensive players were hurt during your season, or your offense couldn’t score to help your team win?
My friend hit .438 his senior year in high school. He was one of the league leaders. He didn’t get recruited because he wasn’t that good a hitter or fielder for that matter. He just happened to hit .438 his senior year.
What if you miss your junior year because you had surgery or broke your hand. You have no stats to speak of. Can you not play college athletic because you have no stats? Of course not, you just have to sell your abilities.
Ok, so what can a resume include?
Your recruiting resume can include the following. The goal here is to provide college coaches important contact information, academic information, and to give them some insight into what you have accomplished thus far in your athletic endeavors. You will not get recruited because of a resume, it will only serve to peak a coaches interest, which is all you can really hope for.
Contact Information – Full name, address, phone #, email address.
Personal – Date of Birth, names of parent(s), or legal guardian.
Academic information – Name, address, and phone # of high school, graduation date, GPA (and the scale it’s based on (usually a 4.0 scale but some schools are 6.0), class rank, PSAT/SAT/ACT scores. The academic information will be really important to college coaches, they need to know you are close to what their school typically looks for in a student-athlete.
Athletic information – One way is to provide a summary of each year you participated. It’s a good way for a coach to read how you progressed from year to year. Here is an example.
High School Golf – (2010)
Junior year I was captain of the varsity golf team, and played the number one position. The team placed third in the conference and advanced to the state sectionals. Individually, I advanced through state regional sectional qualifying to make it to the state championship where I placed fourth. I was honored as the team’s MVP and ended the year with a 36 average for nine-hole rounds and was 10-0 in match play events.
Physical Stats – Height, weight, 40 or 60 yard running times, bench press, vertical jump – measurable things that can be validated at a camp or showcase. Most coaches are skeptics about this data until they see it for themselves, but you can include it! And for some sports like football or hockey, college coaches will want more information on your physical abilities.
Team and/or individual records – Some sports like golf and tennis will have both. You will have an individual match record and a team record. Try to put things in context. Telling a coach you went 9-0 in match play means nothing, but telling a coach you went 9-0 in match play with a 9-hole stroke average of 37 is more meaningful.
Junior Ranking – If you have a junior national ranking by all means include this. But if you have a junior national ranking, you may not need to send detailed resumes to coaches, as your ranking reveals your talents already. Some sports like swimming or tennis recruit based on the national junior rankings and each college knows the caliber of athletes they can realistically recruit based on their individual ranking.
Jersey – Colors and number for home and away. If a coach shows up for a game they can find you more easily!
Any pertinent statistics and how you ranked on the team and in the league – Don’t go crazy with individual statistics. Without supporting information, it won’t mean much. Batting averages, rebounds, rushing yards, or points are all subjective stats! There is much more college coaches need to know.
Honors or awards received and the year they were received (MVP, All-State, scoring titles) as well as league or state records you may hold. These can be listed separately or within your yearly descriptions. Again, these are subjective. Being MVP of your league doesn’t mean you are deserve or are getting a full ride to Stanford.
References – Name and phone # of HS and summer or off-season coach, athletic director, and guidance counselor, instructors, personal trainers or camp directors you have worked with (make sure these people know you put their name down so they are not surprised if and when they get a phone call from a coach). Only use a name that can and will help you. A good reference from someone reliable will do more for you than any stats you list will!
Schedules – You can include a schedule of tournaments, camps, showcases or important events you will be attending throughout the year.