Parents Guide to Financial Planning

Succeeding in the College Financial Aid Process

How the College Financial Aid Process works

Varsityedge.com recently sat down with certified financial planner Janet Rhodes Friedman of Abaris Financial Group. Janet has been studying the financial aid process for the last five years and has gone through the process as a parent of two.

janett_financial_aid

What is your background in the Financial Aid Process?

I have been doing comprehensive financial planning since 2009 which includes college funding strategies for my clients with minor children or college-age children.  I develop college funding strategies for each family, with cash flow projections for all the years their children will be in college.  This provides guidance to families about how every year of college education will be funded, not just the first year for each child.  I start the process early with each client to ensure that all strategies can be considered and implemented.  I also encourage my clients to consider requiring their children to have some “skin in the game.”

Not only do I “talk the talk”, but I “walk the walk”. I have current personal experience with the financial aid process.  My daughter attends Yale University and I have completed the CSS Profile and FAFSA financial aid forms with her the past five years (she decided to take a gap year before entering college).  My son will enter U MA Amherst this fall (FAFSA only).  I understand how complex and frustrating the process can be – but also how best to present your family’s finances to receive the highest financial aid possible.

What are some common misconceptions you see in the Financial Aid process?

  • Not understanding how to apply for financial aid
  • Assuming a student won’t qualify for any aid so the families don’t apply
  • Missing out on merit aid opportunities because some schools require that students apply for aid to be considered for merit grants
  • Not realizing a student must apply for aid every year – and that their aid package will change year to year
  • Unrealistic expectation about how much aid a student will receive
  • Confusion about federal financial aid (FAFSA) vs. private school-based aid (CSS Profile)
  • Believing that loans (Stafford loans, parent PLUS loans) are financial aid. Loans are one way to pay for college but are not “aid” per se.
  • Confusion about how to compare financial aid awards from different colleges – and expecting the same $ aid from each college
  • Not understanding that it may be less expensive for a student to attend a more costly private college than a public university

What is the FAFSA Form?

All students (and parents, if the student is a dependent) seeking financial aid must complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).  The FAFSA is the official form used to request federal, state and school assistance to pay for college (www.fafsa.ed.gov).  Most students submit the FAFSA online (although it is possible to submit it via mail).  Beginning in fall 2016, the FAFSA becomes available each October.  The financial information required for FAFSA will be based on the prior year income tax returns.

FAFSA asks questions to determine a student’s level of financial need.  It takes into account the family size, number of family members in college, and taxable and nontaxable income.  Based on the information submitted, a Student Aid Report (SAR) is produced, an estimate of what the student and parents are expected to pay out of pocket for the student’s college expenses.  This is known as the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) using the Federal Methodology (FM).  The federal government, each college the student is applies to, and the state where the colleges is located all use the FAFSA to determine how much financial aid to grant to each student applying for aid.

What are some common mistakes parents make when filling out the FAFSA form?

  • Inconsistency between FAFSA data and income tax data provided
  • Providing inaccurate values for real estate and investment assets
  • Under reporting income and expenses
  • Excluding various types of income and assets
  • Clerical errors
  • Dishonest answers assuming they will not be caught
  • Not reapplying every year for aid
  • Filing FAFSA too late in the financial aid process
  • Not linking the FAFSA to the IRS DRT data base (required by most colleges)
  • In divorced families, not understanding how the custodial/non-custodial rules apply

When should a family realistically start planning for the Financial Aid process for college?

The best time to think about paying for college is early, ideally no later than 8th or 9th grade.

Tell us a little about the CSS PROFILE form.

In addition, some private colleges also require completion of the CSS/Financial Aid Profile (or a school-specific questionnaire).   This is far more comprehensive and includes a wide range of family assets including family farms and home equity.  It also assumes the student will work part time to pay for college expenses.  The formula used is known as Institutional Methodology (IM).  The CSS Profile is administered by the College Board.  It is rare that the EFC using the Federal Methodology will be the same as the EFC using IM.

Schools that currently require the CSS Profile: GO

Each year more information is requested, and questions are added or changed.  Some colleges ask how many cars you own, including make, model and year.  Some ask about trusts, something that was not required to be disclosed until recently.  The rules have recently changed regarding divorced parents; most colleges now require disclosure by both parents, custodial and non-custodial.

Do you find that many parents are so intimidated by the Financial Aid process, that they fail to do even the basic steps that can help them?

Yes – very often! It’s important to try and learn the process. There is a lot of information and guides you can access online, but if you really feel you need help, try and seek out a financial aid professional with experience in the process.

What other aid and loan programs are available that families are not familiar with?

  • Local grants and scholarships
  • Employer scholarships
  • Tuition discount if student is child of university employee
  • Income tax credits
  • Cash in Series EE bonds tax-free (Income limits apply)
  • Seek colleges that will provide higher aid because the college really wants your child to enroll
  • Consider colleges that are not the most visible or popular colleges
  • Earn college credit through CLEP and AP exams
  • Attend a “work” college that offer internships
  • ROTC program and the U S Military academies
  • Appeal your student’s financial aid award
  • Use a home equity line of credit instead of more expensive private or PLUS loans
  • Ensure student stays on track to graduate in 4 years

What little things can a family tweak or change in their finances to help them receive more aid?

  • Ensure family assets are best positioned to receive highest amount of aid
  • Use UGMA accounts for pre-college expenses (or transfer the UGMS $ to a UGMA 529 plan) so the $ don’t count against the student’s assets in the aid formulas
  • Wait until student’s senior year of college to use 529 plans owned by a grandparent or other individual
  • Maximize tax credits for education on income tax returns
  • Save for college tax-deferred in a 529 plan or Coverdell account

What other things can help a family earn more financial aid?

  • Stand out as a student in some capacity (grades, talents, community service)
  • Apply to schools “off the beaten path” and/or schools trying to attract students from your area or region
  • Consider community college or in-state public university for first two years, then transfer to the student’s “university of choice” for final two years
  • Talk with your children openly and honestly early in the process – and let them know what your family can afford (or not afford)

Division 1 financial aid process for high school athletes

Financial Aid Interview with a Division One College

Learn how the financial aid process works at a Division One College

Varsityedge.com recently interviewed a Division 1 Institution to discuss the financial aid process for student-athletes and how it relates to college coaches and the recruiting process.

Scholarship Blending and equivalency was basically designed to limit colleges from giving institutional aid to recruited athletes that probably didn’t deserve aid, correct?
Yes, unless an athlete receiving any athletic scholarship money meets 1 of 4 academic criteria that the NCAA has established, then any additional institutional aid awarded to a recruited athlete by the school counts towards the teams total allotted athletic scholarship money that the NCAA has established as a limit. Like your question states, this was designed by the NCAA to make sure schools didn’t give additional money to athletes after they ran out of scholarship money for the team, and it forces coaches to recruit more carefully and make sure they have allocated their money in the most useful manner.

Here is an example. A D1 girls soccer team is allowed 12 athletic scholarships that can be divided amongst many players and recruits. If the team has already allocated 11 scholarships to players on the team, the team has one scholarship remaining. The coach is free to divide that money up to a number of recruits if they so choose, however, if you are receiving any athletic aid from the team, any money the school gives you will count against the total scholarship limit (12) for the team unless you meet any of the academic criteria. If the scholarship limit is 12, but the school only offers 4 full scholarships for girls soccer, the institution can award money to recruits up to the equivalency of 12 scholarships. If a team is maxed out on athletic scholarships, it will be extremely difficult to get both athletic money from the coach and institutional money from the school, unless you qualify academically. As you will see in the next question, this isn’t often an issue.

** The academic criteria are
(1) 3.5 GPA
(2) SAT of 1200+ (before test was changed)
(3) ACT of 105+
(4) Top 10% of high school class

Is it realistic for an athlete that isn’t an exceptional student academically to expect any institutional aid money?
Not really or not in our case, that is why equivalency isn’t really an issue for us. If you meet one of the 4 academic criteria, any money the school gives you doesn’t count towards the team anyway. If you don’t meet any of the 4 academic criteria, then realistically you won’t be getting any aid because there are going to be other deserving students who have just as much need as you and have higher academic credentials. If you are an exceptional student with a high academic record, you can qualify for grants and merit aid, if you aren’t an exceptional student, the school cannot justify giving you money simply because you are a good athlete. So while equivalency is an issue, it’s not really an issue because we never give money to an athlete that doesn’t deserve it in the first place, regardless of how badly the coach wants them or how good they are at their particular sport. Our financial aid department doesn’t view athletes and non-athletes separately, we see all students who need aid as one large group of people that have to all be evaluated equally and fairly.

Being talented athletically and academically strong will certainly put you in a better position to be considered for merit aid or grant money by any institution if you show a demonstrated need. All schools compete for top students and being able to offer a talented student (regardless of whether they are an athlete or not) more money is a tool all schools use to try and get the best students to enroll in their school. We don’t place as much emphasis on athletic talent when deciding who to give money to as other institutions might, and we look at all our applicants as a whole when deciding who needs money and who should get money.

Is this going to be the case for every college?
I am sure there are instances where an athlete at another college may have been awarded additional money that they didn’t fully deserve, but that doesn’t happen in our system. it’s not an issue for football or basketball because those sports are fully funded, it’s the other sports where this can potentially happen. (Baseball is a good example as a coach has only 11.78 scholarships if they are fully funded to divide up among 25+ players)

Is a family’s EFC (estimated family contribution) through FAFSA always going to be the same?
Filling out the FAFSA gives you a single monetary number which is your EFC or what the government and a college reasonably expect you to contribute to your education per year. While your EFC may change from year to year, it has nothing to do with what school you are attending or want to attend. You input your financial and family data into your FAFSA form and it returns a dollar amount and your EFC will be the same regardless of whether you apply to a school that is $20,000 per year or $40,000 per year. Your need is then determined by subtracting your EFC from the total cost of what school you would like to attend. So if your EFC is $20,000 and you want to attend a school that is $30,000 per year, your need will be roughly $10,000 which can be made up through a variety of grants and loans.

The start date for filing FAFSA is January 1st, will filling out the FAFSA form after that date affect your EFC?
No, whether you fill out the form January 1st or January 29th, it won’t affect your EFC number. We need all FAFSA information in by February 15th since we need to make application decisions so you cannot wait that long and many schools will be the same way. Please note: At the time of this interview, the FAFSA application started on January 1. The FAFSA application now starts on October 1

College Financial Aid Process

College Financial Aid Process

What mistakes do you see on the FAFSA form that families often make?
There are two big mistakes I see quite a bit (1) – Don’t report retirement money. FAFSA doesn’t ask for this but some people report it anyway and when schools find out your parents have $800,000 saved in their 401K program, you aren’t going to be getting a lot of aid. The only retirement money you should report is money used for retirement programs for the tax year you are using to apply for financial aid. (2) – Don’t report savings as an asset of the student. Parental assets are counted at 5.6% and student assets are counted at 35% which is much higher. Some parents set up an account for their son or daughter and think this will save them money. If the income is truly the students you should count it as so, but you shouldn’t move your money into the name of a student. The same applies for grandparents wishing to give their grandchildren money for college. You are better off giving it to the parents than the student.

What other issues have you run in with student-athletes?
There was a soccer player who was offered a partial athletic scholarship by our school. She was also the recipient of a soccer scholarship at her high school that was privately set up and awarded to her based on her soccer ability. Our school had to withdraw our athletic scholarship offer because our offer and the money she received from her school via the private scholarship put our soccer team over the equivalency limit.

What should a family do if their aid package isn’t enough?
Every family has the right to appeal and I encourage people to do so. Our acceptances go out the last week of March and we receive deposits back very quickly. Based on who enrolls, we may have more money free up in April. So if you think you need more money, April is a good time to call and ask. You might not get it, but by then we will have a better idea if more money is available and whether or not we can give you more money. Each school will obviously be a little different, so it’s important to inquire as to the basic appeal procedures and dates for each school you are interested in.

What is the PROFILE form
The PROFILE form is an additional form that 350+ colleges use in order to determine how to allocate institutional aid. The PROFILE form is run by the College Board (the company that runs the SAT test) and there is a $5 fee to enroll and an $18 fee per school for any school that requires the form. The profile form asks for more financial aid data than the FAFSA form such as home value. The schools that use the PROFILE are schools that usually have more money to give away. While the FAFSA only counts a custodial parent, the PROFILE will ask for information from both parents regardless of marital status or who you lived with. The FAFSA formula is very rudimentary and hasn’t changed much and the PROFILE form allows colleges access to more pertinent financial information and assets. In some cases the PROFILE form can hurt students because you have cases where parents are divorced and one parent will not contribute to the education of their son or daughter even though their assets may be very high.

What happens if my need is being met through an athletic scholarship and the coach decides to reduce or cut my aid award in year 2, 3, or 4?
Like any other student who is getting aid, we would evaluate what you “need” and what is available and try to find a comparable aid package.

Are there other ways a student can put themselves in a better position to receive more aid from a school?
Aside of being an academically strong student, students who might require more aid could consider looking at departments that are less competitive for applications. At our school, acceptance to our Engineering and science programs are extremely difficult because there are thousands of students trying to get into those departments. On the flip side, our education and arts departments are not as competitive and depending on the school, some colleges will allocate more money to certain departments in order to not only attract more students, but better students. In our case, we are trying to attract more Education and Arts students and there is an incentive for us to consider offering students interested in those departments more aid because it will increase their chances of enrolling in our University.

How does that apply to coaches or recruited student-athletes?
Well, many coaches come to us and ask us what programs might have more aid available because it gives the coach an idea of what players they might be able to recruit. If a coach has two recruits with the same skill and the same amount of need that are both interested in the school, but one wants to major in Engineering and one wants to major in Education, the coach might lean towards the Education major thinking he/she has a better chance to not only get accepted, but a better chance to receive more aid from the school if their grades and need warrant more aid. The only problem is that if we are going to be awarding more aid to a certain department (say the Education department), all applicants to that department will be looked at as a whole, and not just an individual athlete.

Is it possible for a student to get more aid than their determined need?
There are two scenario’s where this can happen. (1) All college coaches are free to make athletic scholarship offers to any student-athletes they are recruiting so long as they have the athletic funds available. This means a coach could offer a recruit $30,000 a year in athletic scholarship money even though that same recruit might later fill out the FAFSA form only to learn that their “need” is not $30,000 per year. Coaches are free to offer athletic money to any potential recruit regardless of need. However, if your need is determined to be $10,000 per year and you are offered a $15,000 per year athletic scholarship, you will not be eligible for any additional money from the school because the school will see your need as met, unless you qualify academically for any merit awards or grants, but the system isn’t designed to give students more than they really need! (2) There is also a federal Pell Grant which is available to the neediest of families. I have seen instances of student-athletes on full scholarship qualifying for a federal Pell Grant in order to cover some additional expenses related to attending college. To qualify for a Pell Grant I believe your EFC has to be extremely low, say $4,000 per year.

If a family gets an indication from a coach as to how much money they are offering in athletic aid, does that family have to include that figure on any financial aid forms?
No. The money wouldn’t be guaranteed anyway until a player signs and NLI, but you do not have to disclose any athletic scholarship offers on the FAFSA form. Once an offer has been made from a coach to you and we have received both your application for admission and FAFSA information, the school will be the one to make sure all the numbers fit and how money will be allocated to you.

Should families rely on the Federal Government to fund their education?
Surprisingly, the Government does not have that much money to give. The Pell Grant program is for the neediest of families and much of the other money available comes in the form of Federal Student Loan Programs which are subsidized (the government pays the interest on the loan while the student is in school and the Federal Work-Study program. Work-Study is difficult for athletes due to the time constraints they have from both school work and athletic participation.

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Eye safety for high school athletes

Varsityedge.com recently sat down with Dr. Jill Beyer to talk about eye safety and eye injuries for athletic competition. Dr. Beyer is a staff optometrist in the cornea and refractive department at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and the Director of the contact lens department. Dr. Beyer is also an associate professor at the New England College of optometry.

What are the most common eye injuries as a result of athletic participation
Corneal abrasions or scratches on your eye, subconjunctival hemorrhage which is a broken blood vessel in the white part of the eye, retinal detachments resulting from a serious blow to the eye, traumatic cataracts which can also result from a blow to the eye, and many people have problems with a foreign body in their eye like a piece of dust or glass.

What is the recovery process for these types of injuries
A sub conjuntizal hemorrhage will go away on its own in 2 or 3 weeks. A corneal abrasion needs antibiotics do reduce the chance of infection and the recovery process is anywhere from 1 week to 3 weeks, some foreign bodies (dust, sand, glass) cause scars and can effect your vision if they are in your field of vision, so if you had a piece of glass or a small object stuck in your eye for an extended period of time, it can leave an impression or a scar on your eye. If you think you are suffering from a retinal detachment or have been hit in the eye very hard you need to be seen usually within 24 hours by an eye professional as your vision would be wavy, and you might see flashes of light or a lot of floaters. If a retinal detachment is not treated quickly, it can result in permanent damage.

Are there any eye conditions that may make athletic competition more difficult.
There is a condition called vertical phoria which means your eyes are slightly misaligned which makes hand-eye coordination more difficult. We recently treated a patient with this condition with special glasses and he immediately noticed a vast improvement in his golf score and I was actually surprised he could even play golf with the vision problems he had before we treated him.

What other mistakes to athletes make when it comes to eye protection
Many athletes practice without sunglasses and then wear them during a bright game. This is very common in baseball players and can sometimes be dangerous as a the ball coming at you may look much different through a pair of sunglasses than it does to your plain eye. If you are not used to wearing the glasses, they can often have a negative effect on your vision, because you have trained your eyes to see the ball without the help of sunglasses. If you are going to wear sunglasses for athletic competition I would recommend you practice with them as well.

Is there a standard type of material that should be used for eye protection
Poly-carbonate, which is an impact resistant plastic and is also much thinner and lighter than other types of materials. These are the glasses that Kurt Rambis made famous in the 80’s and although they look funny, they are your best bet for not only protecting your eye but protecting your eye socket as well and they have become quite popular among basketball players and squash and racquetball players.

What long term effects can be caused by basic eye injuries
Corneal scar will cause decrease in vision. Retinal detachments can cause blindness if you were hit in the eye very hard and not seen by an eye doctor within 24 hours or so. With any injury it is better to see a professional to make sure there is no severe damage, even if your eye does not hurt that much as the smallest scratch or piece of dust can cause a lot of damage to your eye.

What steps can people take to protect their eyes in athletic competition
Aside of wearing glasses, not much! If you are playing a contact sport that does not require a helmet like basketball, you obviously have a chance of getting hit in the eye at some point.

Laser surgery is growing in popularity, what exactly is involved in laser surgery
Basically it is the reshaping of the cornea to alter your “refractive error” which changes the way light enters your eyes

Who should inquire about laser surgery
Everyone can inquire about it, near sighted, far sighted and patients with a stigmatism could all be considered. Laser surgery cannot help people who are loosing their eye focusing ability, such as older patients.

Who should avoid laser surgery.
You have to be over 18 and some doctors wont operate on you till you are 21 because your eye can still be changing at that age.

Someone who’s is losing their focusing ability if they are aging will not benefit from laser surgery.

Do they make contact lenses that are more suited for athletic activity
Contact lenses can often help you as they provide peripheral vision, but there is no specific lens designed for general athletic activity. It is recommended to wear soft lenses for athletic competition. There is also a heavily tinted contact lens that may benefit a skier of someone who operates in a very bright environment and I have recently read that there is a soft lens designed to make a yellow tennis ball stand out more.

Contact lenses are also beneficial in sports that require a helmet because many players cannot get a helmet over their eye glasses.

Are all sunglasses the same?
NO..most importantly the sunglasses need to have ultraviolet protection to protect the eyes from burning and from long term adverse effects of ultra violet rays such as cataracts and macular degeneration and just because some sunglasses are over 100 dollars, does not mean they offer more protection than a pair that costs 10 dollars. Your sunglasses can be tested to tell you how effective they will be at blocking ultra-violet light.

Polarized sunglasses can also provide significant benefits for glare reduction and are particularly popular for snow and water sports allowing things to be seen easier such as moguls or fish.

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College soccer recruiting interview

College Soccer Athletic Recruiting Interview

Learn how college soccer coaches recruit high school athletes

Jim O’Brien is in his fifth season (now 11th) as head women’s soccer coach at Fairfield University. His first four seasons have seen Fairfield return to the national scene with a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances and votes in the national polls. Success is no stranger to O’Brien when he took over the women’s soccer program at Fairfield prior to the 2005 season after nine seasons as the head coach of his alma mater’s program. The founding coach of the women’s program at Southern Connecticut State University, O’Brien posted a 105-56-8 record during his tenure. The Owls earned an NCAA Tournament berth, twice appeared in the ECAC Tournament and were ranked as high as seventh in the nation in Division II.

How many States do you actively recruit in?
We recruit mainly in the New York metropolitan area including Massachusetts, and well as parts of Pennsylvania. We also have two from Seattle Washington, one from Texas and a few from Florida. We also have a player from Nova Scotia.

Fairfield is a small school in the Northeast, how do you attract players from throughout the country?
Some of the players on our roster from far away have family ties in the Northeast, so while they may not be from our area, they are familiar with the New England and New York area and have a desire to attend school in this region of the country. A few of our players were recruits that contacted us and the rest were recruited via networks we have established throughout the country that help us find and evaluate talent that we otherwise might not be aware of because that recruit lives two or three thousand miles away.

Do you find a lot of high school players who just want to play D1 because its D1 or think they can play D1
Yes, most of the kids we come across might not be of D1 level but they think they are. We leave no stone unturned when it comes to any recruit and we will do our due diligence in evaluating anyone that we come across or that contacts us. But we will let recruits know we are looking in other directions and try to be honest with everyone if we believe a particular recruit doesn’t have the academic record to get into Fairfield or the soccer skills to compete at our program. If there simply isn’t a fit, it is best for the recruit to know we will not be pursuing them so they can move onto other opportunities.

What skills in particular are you looking for in players?
At the D1 level my two priorities are speed and athletic ability. However we are finding more and more that the technical aspect of the game is becoming more important. If we find a good “athlete”, we can teach the technical aspect of the game. So I have to be able to project if we can take a really good athlete and teach them the technical aspects of the game of soccer to make them that much better.

What are some important recruiting concepts that parents and students you meet with don’t have a grasp of?
Being educated on how process works. I would also say what the restrictions of the coaches are in terms of contact is as well as that is extremely important. If we get an email from a recruit but it isn’t in a time period when the NCAA says we can respond, we usually forward that email to the recruit’s high school coach to let them know we received a contact from one of their players. But we cannot respond to the email until the appropriate time which is Sept. 1st of a prospects junior year. On a side note, The NCAA is looking to push the contact rules up one year meaning a year earlier for everyone. As far as responding to emails go, we can send a generic response saying their email was received but that is about it. That is why we like to follow up with the coach if possible to say we received a contact from a particular player of theirs and will follow up when we have the ability to do so, so it is important to supply us with the contact information of your coach or coaches.

Has the growth of the Internet had any effect on your job?
I am glued to the computer. It helps, but often times you have to step away from your computer and phone at certain points during the day. Online video via tools like Youtube has helped us evaluating players as to whether I want to invest the time to see a particular player in person.

What role do recruiting services play in your recruiting process?
We don’t pay much attention to the mass emails or mail recruiting packages we receive. We get emails from recruiting services that have kids from far away states but we wonder how much interest that particular player has in coming all the way to the northeast. The recruiting process is a pretty personal process so it is important for potential recruits to have not only knowledge of our school and program but interest in our particular school and program.

Are there additional resources you can tap for recruiting assistance?
I have some close ties to the Pacific Northwest and that network has a strong soccer background and knows what types of athletes and soccer players our program is seeking. In this case, they can help me evaluate a potential recruit that I might not get to fly across the country to see.

Do you think soccer is more challenging to get recruited by because of the lack of offensive or defensive stats a recruit might have because of the nature of the game?
Yes, it’s a very gray sport and takes more of an eye for talent and potential. We have to forecast how a player might grow in college, and try to figure out how we going to improve that players skills both physically in the weight room and from a soccer standpoint. Skill is sometimes very difficult to judge in soccer.

How many high school games do you or your coaching staff get to each year?
Locally we get to a few games, and that is usually to see a specific player we have already begun to recruit or have interest in. And we often see a younger player by accident that we can recruit down the road simply as a result of going to that game. We don’t really have the time to go to random games however, as our season takes place the same time as a high school season.

What does your summer recruiting process consist of?
Summer is very important to us for recruiting purposes. We go to a few showcases in the spring. And then there are some tournaments after Memorial Day we try to attend. In July we are at several regional tournaments and our staff is extremely active in recruiting. Our summer camp is extremely important as well as it gives high school players a chance to see our school and gives us a chance to evaluate potential recruits for several days. While we never stop recruiting throughout the year, once August starts we take a break from recruiting as our season is starting and we are more focused on our team and the upcoming season.

Is the fact that Fairfield is a challenging academic school and a private school with a significant price tag cause you to concentrate on recruiting a certain type of student-athlete?
We always look to recruit high quality student-athletes because those are kids that not only can gain acceptance to our school but will succeed at our school. My team GPA is almost 4.0. If you have a strong recruit academically that is going to help that recruit possibly qualify for more financial aid from our school. And, like any sport, being a talented athlete interested in a particular school can help if you might be on the bubble academically for admission to a particular school. As an added benefit to recruiting high academic achievers, we can give those recruits additional institutional aid that does not count towards our equivalency scholarship limit.

College Soccer Athletic Recruiting Process

Do you run any summer camps? And how do those play a role in recruiting?
Almost 80% of my roster has attended. It’s an overnight camp and plays a huge role in our recruiting efforts as it not only gives us a chance to see high school soccer players play for several days, but it gives those kids a chance to see and feel not only what our soccer program is like but what our college is like.

Do you find many parents and students who started the recruiting process too late?
50 percent are over proactive as resumes and emails are coming from freshman in high school and it’s pretty challenging for any coach in any sport to be able to project that student’s interest or skill that early in high school. But then we have juniors in high school who are just starting the process and just reaching out to us now and that is a little late. Those kids (the late group) really need to come to our camp so we can have a chance to evaluate them over a several day period. It’s really our last opportunity to see them. Late summer before junior year is really when the process should get going because we can start to communicate with recruits via email September 1st. There are a few showcases in November and December we attend and that is an opportunity to see recruits we have heard from. After Memorial day there are also some major events we attend.

Do you receive a lot of videos from players?
A fair amount and video is becoming better. We like to see a 4 to 8 minute clip which is a good chance for us to evaluate a player. We do not recruit players solely off of video, it’s really a tool for us to decide whether we want to pursue a recruit further and try to see that recruit in person. So the first step is video and then working with that recruit to see where we can see her play, whether it’s a particular showcase we are attending, a specific game or getting that recruit to come to our summer camp. I recruited one player solely off of video and it didn’t work out, so it is really important for me to be able to see a player in person or to tap into our network for evaluations.

Do you have any programs in place to help incoming freshman adjust to the college environment?
Yes, all across Division 1 athletics at most colleges freshman will have seminars, academic advisement, mandatory study hall, and faculty evaluations. The services are quite extensive. Our players also have access to sports nutritionists, sports psychologist, and recruiters that handles financial aid in our athletic department.

Do you find a lot of high school coaches willing to assist their players in their recruiting efforts?
Yes and no. I think across college athletics there has been a trend in communicating with club coaches because those coaches are involved with more potential recruits that have serious interest in continuing their sport in college. We have relationships with several high school coaches that we have developed throughout the years as well.

At the peak of your recruiting efforts, how many players might you be evaluating?
That can depend on how many team members we are replacing. Last year we graduated 8 players from our team so we were extremely active in recruiting a higher number of players for our team. This year we will graduate only 2 players so our recruiting needs next year will change. As a general rule, we might start with a pool of 300 recruits and reduce that down to 30 or so recruits that we have interest in and that have potential interest in our school and program. Out of that pool of 30, we may get 4 or 5 recruits ultimately to join our program.

Coming from a state school (Southern Connecticut State University), are there differences to recruiting for a private school?
Yes, mainly we are looking at a slightly different demographic. Soccer allows us to get kids that might not be able to gain acceptance to our school academically otherwise. We need to find players with a more academic mentality. We have a great business school at Fairfield, so we are naturally going to attract kids that are probably interested in studying business. SCSU had very strong programs and degrees in education, so many of the recruits there were interested in working in education after graduation.

A student’s ability to communicate with a coach shows a certain level of maturity, are you finding more students reaching out to you rather than having their parents involved?
We can tell by the wording of an email who is sending it and we factor that into the recruiting process. We try to make the recruiting process between us and the student athlete and not the parent.

Do players have the ability to try out for your team?
We don’t really do tryouts. Our team and roster is pretty set when the fall season starts. We have had two girls make our team by participating in our spring practice.

What role to athletic scholarships play a role in your recruiting?
We have 11 athletic scholarships to offer out of the NCAA maximum of 14 for women’s D1 soccer. The school has provided us with an outstanding opportunity to be able to recruit top soccer talent through athletic scholarships which helps us be very competitive.

Do you communicate with other coaches when it comes to players you are recruiting?
It’s a small world and coaches communicate with each other. Obviously we are not really going to discuss a recruit that we are competing for with another school with that schools coach. But there are instances where coaches will recommend a player that is interested in their program who will not be a fit for their program from a skill standpoint or academically, but might be a fit for ours and vice versa.

Families seem to be starting the recruiting process earlier and earlier. What advice would you give someone that is a freshman or sophomore in high school that felt pressure or the need to start to contact college coaches that early?
That’s a hot topic right now with the NCAA as they are considering changing the contact period for athletes in all sports to a year earlier. Families are feeling that pressure right now at a younger age. Club and travel teams are contributing to this by recruiting kids by promising them recruiting services as well. From our standpoint, it’s challenging to recruit a player from a greater distance from our school, so most of the success we have with recruits contacting us earlier in high school are with local players that play for established programs which allow us the ability to see those players at a younger age.

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College lacrosse recruiting interview

College Lacrosse Athletic Recruiting Interview

Learn how college lacrosse coaches recruit high school athletes

Varsityedge.com recently sat down with coach Brad Jorgensen, head coach of the men’s lacrosse team at Saint Leo University, a private Division 2 school in Saint Leo Florida. Saint Leo is a Club lacrosse program moving to Division 2 status in the fall of 2005. At the time, it only 4-year college varsity lacrosse program in the state of Florida. Jorgensen is now in his 10th year of coaching.

Tell us about the sport of lacrosse in Florida
Like across the country, the sport is growing at a fast pace. There are roughly 120 high school programs in Florida and probably 10 really good high school programs. Lacrosse hasn’t grown at the youth level yet, so most of the players at the high school level are relatively new to the game, whereas in other states, you have kids playing when they are 9 or 10 years old now. In a few years, when more youth players begin playing, those kids will migrate to high school and be better players.

How does this affect recruiting?
The good news is we are the only varsity college lacrosse program in the state of Florida and many high school players want to go to college in Florida. Since the sport is still growing at the high school level, I will be looking to bring in players from out-of-state to compliment the Florida kids that I recruit as well.

You last coaching job was at Wheaton, tell us about the differences there?
Wheaton was a Division 3 program with very high academic standards. While there were many lacrosse players I could evaluate in the New England area, it’s difficult to find the right kid who can gain acceptance to the school, can afford the school, and is interested in the academic programs the school offered. At the end of the day there were a lot of potential recruits who wanted a specific major the school didn’t offer.

Is Saint Leo an attractive school for out-of-state kids?
Well, 50% of our student body comes from out-of-state, so I would say yes. Saint Leo is a private school, but our tuition ($20,000) makes our school a less expensive option compared to many other private schools, especially schools in New England where I previously coached. Wheaton was about $40,000 so you are taking a difference of about $20,000 a year.

How is Saint Leo Different?
For starters, the state of Florida offers a Florida student what’s called a FRAG scholarship (Florida Resident Access Grant). It’s for kids who want to go to in-state private schools and it’s $5,000 per year. So right off the bat, our school is attractive for local students and student-athletes. In New England, lacrosse is huge and there is a larger pool of players to draw from, but the schools are often more expensive, so many kids get priced out. In Florida, there are fewer lacrosse players to draw from, but the school is less expensive than many other private schools, which makes our school more attractive to players not only in-state, but out-of-state as well. We have very strong criminal justice and sports management programs at Saint Leo.

Is it safe to say that much of your recruiting efforts will be in areas outside of Florida?
Yes, I will spend my entire summer in the Northeast at different camps, showcases, and tournaments looking at potential recruits.

What role to showcases and camps play in your recruiting efforts?
Well, they allow myself and other college coaches the ability to see a large number of players that are interested in continuing their lacrosse career in college in one place. It’s difficult to travel to many high school games to see just a few players, especially during the season; so all college coaches rely on some form of summer activity to evaluate players.

College Lacrosse Athletic Recruiting Process

College Lacrosse Athletic Recruiting Process

Is the proliferation of showcases camps and tournaments a concern?
In some cases yes. If I wanted to, I could be at a lacrosse event every week of the year. The bad news is that there are so many events now that college coaches cannot possibly attend every one of them and some events are becoming watered down. You also have kids participating in 10 or 15 events a summer and by event 5 they are already burned out and some kids end up looking worse. There are other events that have 500 kids on 20 fields and it’s just difficult to see and evaluate everyone.

What’s your advice to a player who might not want to go the showcase route all summer but still needs some exposure?
Exposure is a tricky word because at the end of a day at a given event, the probability of your skills, academic background, and financial background matching up to all the schools in attendance is pretty low. Some kids try and get recruited by 60 schools thinking a higher number is better than trying to find 10 schools they might be a good fit for. At the end of the day, there are a lot of schools that you cannot play for and a lot of schools that will not offer the academic programs you should be looking for, so parents and kids need to be involved in the search and try to find programs that they may match up with. To answer your specific question – I would try to be proactive, put together a compelling resume and video, contact coaches, attend a few events, and possibly attend a camp at a college that you think you would be interested in and that you could possibly play for.

How does video play a role in your recruiting efforts?
Nothing can replace seeing an athlete play in person, but I can have confidence in a player through a video. I am not a highlight tape guy, I like to see complete game films. I like to see athletic ability and how a player hustles. Highlight videos don’t always show those things. If you send a video, please make sure you identify what player you are as well!

What role did recruiting services play in your efforts?
Most of the stuff I received at Wheaton was worthless. Either the player didn’t fit the profile of the school academically or financially. We got a lot of stuff from Canadian kids who simply couldn’t afford the school. I am personally not a fan of services that are simply sending resumes of kids to coaches, it’s really not anything a parent or student could do on their own, and most kids are not a match for the program. Most things of value were from high school coaches who took the time to do video and resumes on their players. There was one high school I always dealt with that had a dedicated person that assisted athletes with preparing recruiting materials and videos and I always got quality information from them.

Will you go see a player at his request?
There are always time constraints and logistics involved with that, but I have had players call me up, express interest in my program, and ask if I would come to see a game, which I did. The player needs to do a little research on his part, on our school and program, but if he has done that, thinks he can play for me, and shows an interest, I will make every effort to go see him play.

What else can a recruit do to help them get recruited?
I think one important and overlooked factor is time. Lacrosse is a spring sport, and senior year is far too late to evaluate a player. We can’t see you play senior year, so we need to hear from you in your junior year if you want us to come see you play. The sooner you get on my radar, the more time I have to possibly evaluate you.

Coach, thank you for your time and best of luck in your new program. Any players interested in Saint Leo can find more information at www.saintleo.edu

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College golf recruiting interview

College Golf Recruiting Interview

Learn how college golf coaches recruit high school athletes

Steve Conley is the head coach at Methodist University, a D3 School in Fayettville, North Carolina. The Methodist University golf team has made 23 consecutive appearances in the NCAA D3 National Golf Championships, winning 11 championships including 2015, and finished in the top 5 in the nation for the past 17 years. The team’s success stems from the fact that the school is one of a select few (19 schools) that offer a PGA Professional Golf Management Program. This program leads to a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration or Marketing with a concentration in Professional Golf Management and is one of the reasons why top golfers throughout the country seek admission to Methodist University. There is a little history between Methodist University and myself. In 1990 when I was a strapping young junior golfer, I received a recruiting package from Methodist University and coach Conley. Because I was naïve and uneducated in the recruiting process and had never heard of Methodist University, I didn’t give the package much of a look or return the recruiting survey. The moral of the story is, forget what you know about college and check out each and every program on your own. Many students gravitate to schools they have heard of for no particular reason and don’t give lesser-known schools a chance.

Do you have a set number of states you actively recruit in, or do you have the ability to recruit any player in the country?
We have the ability to recruit any player in the country. Players east of the Mississippi are the players that have probably heard of Methodist University and are familiar with our golf program already. We do have students from 40 states that are in our PGM program. While I don’t focus on one particular area, I would say that the north and northeast is where I recruit more.

Do you find a lot of high school players who just want to play D1 or think they can play D1?
Yes, everyone thinks they are D1 material, and there are some weaker D1 programs where they might be able to get a scholarship or some scholarship money, but they don’t consider D2 or D3 programs because they have D1 on the brain.

What are some important recruiting concepts that parents and students you meet with don’t have a grasp of?
Most if not all don’t understand different divisions as far as skill level and the difference in nature of institutions across varying divisions. There are more D3 institutions than D1. Most families also don’t realize D3 schools do not offer scholarships and then when you tell them they tend to lose interest. Most smaller schools at the D3 level have better academic scholarships because they are trying to attract quality students. Families also don’t do their homework, and they don’t realize how talented the top D3 golf programs are and they don’t realize that there are almost as many D3 golf programs as D1 golf programs

Has the growth of the Internet had any effect on your job?
Yes, I get a lot of emails and it has broadened the scope of recruiting. I make less phone calls because I am returning more emails. I like email sometimes because I can do it at any time of the day. The killer is when I am communicating with a kid both with the phone and through email.

There have always been recruiting services, but in the last several years the number of online services has really grown. Do you use any of these services to search for potential recruits?
I haven’t really used these because I have so much volume to deal with already with letters, emails, videos, and phone calls from parents, coaches and recruits. I simply don’t have time and would rather spend my time corresponding with kids that show an active interest in our program and that contacted me directly.

Have you heard of the junior golf showcase, which is an online golf site for high school golfers run by the Golf Coaches Association of America?
Yes, it’s a great tool but same answer as above, no time and little need. I deal with players I know vs. the unknown.

How many high school golfers would you say contact you on their own each year.
Hundreds.

College Golf Athletic Recruiting Process

College Golf Athletic Recruiting Process

How many do you contact, either via phone or letter?
Hundreds.

Are golfers that contact you on their own at a disadvantage because they may be an unknown quantity (over a player you have seen already) or is everyone treated as a potential recruit if they have the scores
Everyone is treated as a recruit, and I don’t spend a lot of time seeing high school golfers play or attending tournaments.

Do you think your program often gets overlooked because you cannot offer athletic scholarship aid?
Absolutely, but like I said, we might offer a better academic and financial aid package than what you might get for a golf scholarship at a D1 or D1 school.

Do you find that you have to sell your program more or are recruits more eager to come to your program given its success?
Years ago, we used to have to sell our program hard because of we are a small school. Because of our tradition, reputation, PGM program and facilities, I don’t have to sell that hard any more. We have an 18-hole golf course and a driving range on campus, so that is pretty attractive to recruits.

Do you run any summer camps or clinics?
A few camps in the summer. I occasionally recruit players that attend the camp, but the camp is mostly for local players to learn the game of golf.

Do you find many parents and students who started the recruiting process too late?
Yes. It’s gotten better but there are those that are still behind. We only have 100 spots in our PGM program and there are only 14 schools in the country that offer it, so it’s encouraged to get into this program early. We have an early admittance program of Nov 1st, which a lot of students aim for.

Do you receive videos from players?
Yes a fare share and that is nice. However, some are low quality or have bad angles. I like to see a straight on golf swing or directly behind the golfer from a reasonable distance, not too far, not too close, and you have to use a tripod and turn the microphone off! A video is better than nothing but you have to do it right. I get videos with kids missing 8 out of 10 putts from 5 feet from the hole, which can be funny at times. Either show the stroke or show yourself making putts!

Do you have any programs in place to help incoming freshman adjust to the college environment?
We have a freshman orientation course like most schools would have. We also have a PGM staff member who teaches just PGM freshman and he is their counselor and advisor.

Given that golf scores are tangible numbers that can be evaluated (unlike a batting average), do you find it easier to recruit players and have confidence in the ability of players you bring into your program.
I look for qualifiers such as: (1) average score as a starting point, (2) where the player lives and competes, (3) competition they play against. I respect winning at any level, however there is overlap. Location gets factored in with their schedule, where do they play, who do they play against. I ask what their competitive scoring average is for tournaments in a given summer and most kids tell me their handicap, then I ask the same question again and restate what kind of answer I want. I want to know what your stroke average was for all the tournament rounds you played in a given summer, which we all know is going to be much different than a handicap. It seems like every kid I meet with tells me he has a 1 handicap.

Do you find high school coaches willing to assist players in their recruiting efforts?
Yes, this has gotten better. A few coaches this week called me and some email me. The ones who take their responsibility seriously are on the ball, while there is always those who don’t really try to help their kids.

At the peak of your recruiting efforts, how many players might you be evaluating?
We have open tryouts so it’s hard to answer. We have a list but I don’t have a specific number. I recruit anyone interested in our program that I think can be accepted here and can play golf here. We might have 25 kids who are the most talented recruits, but that changes by the day as kids make their own decisions as to what schools they want to pursue. I try to keep my numbers reasonable, but I don’t have a big board with 200 names on it every year, like some other schools might.

A student’s ability to communicate with a coach via phone and letters shows a certain level of maturity, do you agree?
Yes I do. I can always tell a players maturity level if their mom or dad are making all the phone calls and doing all the emails. There are parents that meet with me that won’t let their kid get a word in when they visit.

Do you have any walk-on’s or walk-on tryouts.
We have two tryouts each year – fall and spring. I carry 15 players on the team, so we usually have 9-10 spots on the team in the fall to go with about 5 returning players. Tryouts are a 72-hole tournament and we take the top 10 to join the 5 returning players. Then we have tryouts to see who travels to tournaments, and each is different.

Do you communicate with other coaches when it comes to players you are recruiting, meaning players who are interested in your school, but might not be a good fit or might not be able to get in academically and vice versa?
Other schools communicate with me. But I don’t do a lot of communications with other schools. Some large schools call me about kids who they think need to attend a smaller school. Some D3 schools call me to tell me about kids who are looking for a PGM program.

How has recruiting changed from when you were involved as a high school student
It seems that only certain coaches recruited back then and now all recruit and all coaches have to recruit and everyone sends letters and call kids and email kids. It’s popular to recruit now.

Do you receive any recruiting packages from 3rd party athletic marketing services?
Yes, I glance at them or speed read. I look for SAT, GPA, handicap or scoring average. We have gotten some players through recruiting services.

Do you see the majority of the players you recruit play in person?
NO. I don’t really need to and I don’t always have time so I don’t get to a lot of tournaments.

Is a basic cover letter, athletic resume and a recommendation enough to get the ball rolling in the recruiting process?
Absolutely!

Do you think many students who contact you underestimate the strength of your golf program because “it’s D3”?
Absolutely, they usually underestimate the skill of our team and program and overestimate their skill.

Do you think the majority of your players could play at a top D1 golf program had they chosen that route?
I have had some players that good, but not all. I think all of my players could play at the D1 but top D1 golf programs have players that are extremely talented.

Your school offers a professional golf management program. Would you say this program contributes to the success of your golf program by being able to get top recruits?
Yes it does. The PGM program goes hand in hand with our golf program and both lead to our success. The PGM program allows me to recruit talented golfers.

Are all of your players involved in the PGM program?
Yes.

This program requires a student to be able to pass the PGA playability test, can you outline what that means exactly.
First you have to play a 36-hole round based on course rating plus 15 strokes. You have to pass that test once before you graduate. Then there are 3 checkpoints for standardized exams. The PGA administers those tests at the school.

If a PSA is looking to compete in a competitive college golf program, is playing on a national stage (AJGA) a must for exposure and for a golfer to show his skill vs. top competition. What are the options……
It helps. The big schools won’t really look at you if you are not playing AJGA tournaments. I however, look at a kids overall schedule.

Do you find recruits who aren’t interested in your program have a difficult time actually telling you, meaning is it important to hear NO from them so you can move on to other recruits who may be interested.
I can tell by a kids actions whether or not they are interested. If they don’t send me stuff back (recruiting survey) after I mail them, I stop recruiting them. I ask for actions from everything I do whether I sent a letter or make a phone call. Some kids do have a hard time saying no or saying I am looking at or going to another school. But it’s important for them to tell me if they are not interested so I can move on to other recruits and they can move on to other schools.

Will you continue to correspond with a kid who has told you that they are not interested.
Not usually. However, I tell every recruit to let us know if they change their mind and that they can call us. But if someone says they are not interested, I won’t invest any more of my time pursuing them.

Given the strict practice rules set forth by the NCAA, do you have to be careful given that you have a golf course and range right on campus.
Yes, I can’t help or watch them play out of season.

The NCAA says that D3 athletic programs are supposed to have no influence on admissions or financial aid. How realistic do you think this is?
We follow that to a tee. Parents ask if I can help or what I can do and I say that admissions and the financial aid office is responsible for that. We can submit names to admissions of kids that have shown an active interest in our school and golf program and admissions will give me feedback on a kids chances or what a student might need to do to gain acceptance to our school. But if you don’t have the grades or test scores, it is out of my hands.

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Northeastern Football recruiting interview

Northeastern Football Recruiting Interview

One on One with former 1AA college quarterback

Varsityedge.com sat down with former Northeastern University(MA) Quarterback Jim Murphy of Reading Massachusetts. After a solid High School career, Murphy took his game to Northeastern where he broke many passing records from 1994-1997. After redshirting as a freshman, Murphy sat the first 3 games of his career before being inserted as a starter and from there went on to start 41 straight games going (6-5) as a junior and (8-3) as a senior and leading Northeastern to its first back-to-back winning seasons since 1967. After school, Murphy had the chance to participate in two training camps with the New England Patriots where he saw pre-season action and also got to play in the NFL Europe league with the Barcelona Dragons for one season.

Were you recruited heavily out of High School?
I was recruited by a lot of 1AA schools such as University of Maine, University of New Hampshire, Boston University & Northeastern.

Did you high school coaching staff assist you in your recruiting efforts at all?
Yes Tom Kasprzak at Reading High helped me tremendously by assisting in the creation of game film editing, contacting local coaches and writing recommendations for me.

What was the hardest aspect of the recruiting process for you personally?
I would say making a final decision because there were two coaches in particular I liked very much and trusted and it was hard telling them that I would not be joining their program.

Did you attend any summer camps in high school?
Yes, I attended a camp at Boston College and a camp at Northeastern. I think the camp at Northeastern contributed to helping me get noticed and recruited by the Northeastern Football Staff.

Did these camps help you better rate your ability?
Yes definitely. I got to compete against players from other parts of the state and country and it provided a benchmark for my skill level at that time and I realized that I could compete with many top ranked quarterbacks.

What was the hardest football adjustment you had to make at Northeastern?
I would say I was undersized at that level when I arrived so gaining weight and gaining strength to compete on an everyday basis.

What was the hardest academic adjustment you had to make at Northeastern?
Just balancing athletics and studies in a way that worked for me.

After football season ended in college, what were the winter and spring requirements?
We had required lifting in the winter and 6AM runs 3 days a week and I threw a million balls in the winter as well. In the spring we had formal practices and that was a good way to show the coaches how hard you had worked in the winter.

What would you tell a high school athlete who thought big time Division 1 football is the only way to go?
If you are interested in playing at that level go for it, but there are a lot of great schools and great programs at the 1AA level and you should not overlook any programs and I really enjoyed my time playing at Northeastern and it was very competitive football.

You went through 2 training camps with the New England Patriots, what was that experience like?
It was a dream come true and a great experience any time you are the local kid playing for the home team. I met a lot of great people and learned a lot about the game of football, much of which I am passing on to younger players in my camp programs.

Do you think your experiences as a college athlete has helped you grow your professional working career?
Yes the dedication and discipline it takes to be a college athlete are skills that can assist you in your day-to-day life and overcoming adversity.

How much more difficult was college football compared to high school?
The game is faster and the players are bigger, but you game naturally rises as you are surrounded with more talent but you need to feel you belong and have confidence in yourself to be successful.

Did your college coaches take a pro-active role in players academic success ensuring everyone was on the right track?
Yes the NCAA has strict rules on academic eligibility so we had a lot of study halls and tutors if need be and our coaches monitored us pretty well especially in the first year. As we got older and understood what we needed to do they backed off us a little.

Did your college coaches prepare you enough for what was going to be expected of you academically and athletically?
They tried to but until you experience it first hand as the athlete, nothing they say can really prepare you and its really a matter of figuring out what is going on and what you need to do on your own to be successful.

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1AA College Football Recruiting

Athletic Recruiting Interview with 1AA College Coach

This was an interview done with a Division 1-AA football coach. I was asked to make the interview anonymous by the coach.

What percentage of kids you recruited and signed were kids that contacted you first
I would say that 95% of all the kids we recruited were found by the coaching staff. If you have the ability to play D1 AA football and higher (the skill and the grades), we Know your name, know where you live and know what position you play. (Varsityedge.com NOTE: This will happen more in football where college coaches have the resources (a big staff) and a larger budget to scout and recruit throughout the country)

Does that mean as a potential recruit, I shouldn’t bother writing a letter or calling you?
Not at all, but by the time you get around to doing that, we probably already know your name. If we don’t, we will evaluate you just like any other student-athlete that we evaluate. It just so happens that we do a good job of recruiting and finding talent, that the majority of kids recruited are kids that we found before they found us. That doesn’t mean these kids weren’t interested in our school before we contacted them.

How is it that you know where the talent is?
We subscribe to scouting lists and have several coaches who work very hard in recruiting student-athletes from around the country. We also have our own camp and work at several other camps throughout the country. Each assistant is responsible for a broad list of recruits and it’s their job to narrow down that list to the ideal candidates.

How honest are you with recruits when meeting with them and their parents.
I make it a personal point to tell each recruit and family member exactly how it’s going to be and exactly what to expect. When you are dishonest with a recruit and they come to your school and find things different than how you explained it last year when you met with them, you not only lose the trust of that player, but that player becomes unhappy which affects his performance on the field and in practice. That isn’t good for anyone. When you lay it all out on the line, the practices, the amount of kids on the team, the lifting and running at 6AM and that kid still wants to come, then you know you have a motivated football player in your program.

How prepared do you find today’s recruits and their parents.
Kids are nervous, and often do not ask a lot of questions in meetings. Parents end up asking more questions depending on their background. First generation college students (kids whose parents didn’t go to college) have no clue what’s going on in recruiting, so we try to fill in what they didn’t ask and need to know.

Are the opinions of high school coaches important
Yes, because we don’t really go to high school games, our decisions are based on scouting reports, video, and conversations with high school coaches and if a coach feels a player is not ready for our level, they will usually be honest and tell us.

What types of things do recruits do to hurt their recruiting chances.
There are some bad stories of kids doing dumb things that probably should not be repeated. I will just say that you shouldn’t try to use athletics to gain acceptance into a school with the purposes of then quitting the athletic team once you are in the school.

College Football Athletic Recruiting

College Football Athletic Recruiting

You have over 100 kids in your program, do freshman see any playing time?
Very few freshman start and that is no different than varsity football at the high school level. You have to understand that when a freshman arrives at college, there are 3 classes ahead of him that have been in a competitive college program, that have had more coaching, that have had more training, and have had more experience at the college level.

How many kids do you evaluate each year?
We have access and knowledge of over 7,000 players throughout the country each year that can probably play at our level, but not all of those players have the grades and test scores to get into our school.

How many of those kids can you recruit?
Out of 7,000 players that can realistically play at our level, probably 500-700 of those kids are even qualified to attend our school academically. 6 coaches/recruiters will take roughly 100 kids each and then pair that list down to 25 each so we get a final list of about 150 potential recruits that qualify athletically and academically. From there, we will start aggressive recruiting and decide what kids we want to bring for visits, based on film and coaches recommendations.

How important is videotape from student-athletes in your recruiting process
We Need to see a tape before any official visits are issued. Like all schools, we have a limited amount of visits we can offer kids and we are trying to recruit 30 kids so we cannot afford to bring in a kid for a visit that isn’t talented enough to play at our level. We first look at video and then make a determination as to who to extend official visits to.

What do you like to see on tapes?
I think no more than 10-15 highlight plays and then two distinct halves are fine. I rarely watch all of a tape, but I want the action just in case. The highlights serve as an initial weeding process and determine if I need to watch the rest of the tape. But show me something against good competition. It does me no good to see you dominate 98 lb weakling

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Division 3 baseball recruiting interview

Division 3 College Baseball Interview

Learn how college baseball coaches recruit at the division 3 level

Rob Zeytoonian is a former player who played for Suffolk University and then went on to Coach at Wooster College in Ohio. He is currently the Assistant General manager and former Director of Player Development for the Lexington Blue Sox of the Intercity Baseball League.

How many States did you actively recruit in?
We had two main states that we recruited in, Ohio & Pennsylvania and two other states that we did light recruiting in when necessary, West Virginia & Indiana

Did you find a lot of high school players who just want to play D1 or think they can play D1?
Absolutely, the majority of them. We were constantly trying to educate families that playing a high level of division I baseball was not for everyone. While we encourage everyone to shoot for the highest level possible, there were too many kids we met that simply were not capable of performing at that level. But they thought they could because they were taking the opinions of people that were not really qualified to help them.

What are some important recruiting concepts that parents and students you meet with didn’t have a grasp of?
Most parents and students don’t do enough investigation about the school and what will be the best fit for them. Financial aid was another concept that families just did not understand as well as outside scholarships that were non-athletic based. There is tons of money available to students for college, but most never try that hard or at all to look for it.

Has the growth of the Internet had any effect on your job?
It’s changed the face of recruiting in some cases and made it a little easier to find & communicate with potential recruits. We had email postcards that we could send to our recruits when we were on the road on our spring trip or at tournaments, which provided updates on the team and were a good reminder that we were interested in them.

There have always been recruiting services, but in the last several years the number of online services has really grown. Did you use any of these services to search for athletes?
Never. We had enough letters, emails & phone calls from players and coaches to keep us busy.

How many high school games did you or your coaching staff get to each year?
We didn’t have much time but we tried to get to at least 20 games in the spring. These were not random games but rather players we were interested in and actively recruiting. And the residual benefits of this were we always got to see other players that we may not have been aware of.

Did you go see players play in summer leagues?
Yes, again to see kids we were interested in and trying to recruit. The summer is important to us because it takes more effort to play in the summer and we felt that the kids playing summer ball were more dedicated and more interested in improving their skills.

Did you think Division III athletic programs often get overlooked because they are not able to offer athletic scholarship aid?
Absolutely, as well as the fact that families perceive D3 as not being a talented level of baseball or athletics in general. While in some cases this is true, its important to evaluate every school individually as well as the competition they face.

How can you get players to commit to your program without being able to offer them scholarships?
Financial aid package was number one and almost all of our players received aid.

College baseball Athletic Recruiting

College baseball Athletic Recruiting Process

Did you run any summer camps?
Yes but they were not run for recruiting purposes, they were for younger kids ages 10-14.

Did you find many parents and students who started the recruiting process too late?
Yes definitely. In our case that worked out better because we had late acceptance and were able to get students that didn’t get the offers they had hoped for from other schools or students that started the process too late to get offers. The D1 schools like to have things wrapped up earlier and their team set so they can start recruiting for next year.

Did you receive a lot of videos from players & what did you like to see on Videos?
Yes. We like to see videos short, sweet, and to the point. Some grounders, catchers throwing to second, different angles, some BP and some game footage. We always got some hilarious video’s of fathers doing commentary and camera’s bouncing back and forth but I wouldn’t recommend either if you are making a video.

Did you have any programs in place to help incoming freshman adjust to the college environment?
Yes we had academic game plans for each athlete at school. It stressed creating good habits and following through on these habits. We also stressed the importance of attending all your classes all the time to build a rapport with your professors. At a small school with small classes, its important to show your professors you are at least trying so when you have to miss a class or a test for a game they understand. If you aren’t showing up for class and then start to miss work, the professors will be very unsupportive.

Did you attend showcases and what are your thoughts on these?
We attended 3 or 4 each year. It was important for us to know who was running them and how. We also chose showcases that we knew had not only good players, but players we could sign at this level.

Did you find a lot of high school coaches willing to assist their players in their recruiting efforts?
Probably a 50/50 split. This is something that is a product of society and location, and the emphasis placed on athletics. In the South and Midwest most high school coaches have higher salaries and are full-time teachers or full-time employees of their school in some way. Schools want their coaches to be as visible as possible at the school and to be role models to the kids. Because the coaches are paid more and are always around the kids, much more is expected of them and the kids receive more assistance on all levels. As you get more rural in location, athletics has much more meaning and much more seasonal involvement and becomes part of peoples daily life because there isn’t that much else to do and it’s also a way out for many kids, who otherwise might not be able to go to college or afford college. There are always exceptions, but there are many more part-time coaches in the northeast who don’t really get involved with their kids too much or have an emotional attachment to them as coaches in the south and Midwest have.

At the peak of your recruiting efforts, how many players might you be evaluating?
We probably started with 700 names and then shortened that list down to between 60-70 kids that we actively tried to recruit.

Did you think parents and players realize that the spring season of their senior year is too late to have an impact on their recruiting efforts?
For families trying to get into a D1 program, they don’t understand how early they need to start the process. Since we had late admittance, it was often a plus for us to find families that in fact started their recruiting process too late.

Some people say a student’s ability to communicate with a coach shows a certain level of maturity, did you think it’s better if the student or the coach/parent makes first contact with you?
Student always. We like kids with initiative and enough maturity to at least pick up the phone.

How many players did you usually have at tryouts in the fall?
Probably 30

What about Walk-on’s?
Maybe 4 or 5 walk-ons

Did you communicate with other coaches when it comes to players you are recruiting?
In some cases yes, as long as it didn’t hurt us, meaning we didn’t talk to other coaches about players we were both recruiting.

How has recruiting changed from when you were involved as a high school student
It’s more sophisticated now and more people get involved at the high school and college level. Guidance counselors are more informed on what to do and recruiting is now a national process where it used to be a state or regional process.

Did you receive any recruiting packages from 3rd party athletic marketing services?
We got a few strange emails and faxes from places like that but not too much of that stuff

How many athletes were you able to recruit without physically seeing them play in person?
Very few but tapes and recommendations from scouts really helped in that department when it did happen as well as campus visits. If a kid puts together a good tape, a good resume and good recommendations from qualified people, you can get a good sense of them athletically. The last step is to get that kid to visit the school so you can meet him personally and show him your program.

Is a basic cover letter, athletic resume and a recommendation enough to get the ball rolling in the recruiting process
Doing anything will help you get started. At the very least you need to be able to pick up the phone and call a coach, any coach. Families always talk about schools they are interested in but for some reason they don’t seem to take the initiative to contacting them.

Having coached in both the Northeast and the Midwest, what recruiting differences are trends have you seen.
The importance of athletics in the Northeast at the college level is not as pronounced as it is in the Midwest and the south. There is more of an emphasis on education here and its no surprise due to the concentration of Ivy League schools in this area. This rubs off on recruiting and there is less overall recruiting done I think in New England. There are not as many phone calls and not as many home visits to athletes. This is partly due to the fact that most assistant coaches at schools in the Northeast are part-time coaches with lower salaries. This doesn’t allow schools to do as much recruiting because they are short-staffed and short on a budget.

You have been more than helpful today, I would like to wrap up the interview by asking you what you think parents and students should did as a first step to get their recruiting efforts underway?

  • Talk to your family and try to come up with a clear idea of what you want and what they expect or what they want.
  • Take some initiative with high school coaches, college coaches, and guidance counselors.
  • Network. If your coach or parents cannot help you, then you need to determine if there is anyone that can in fact help you.
  • Have a better idea of where you want to go to school by doing more research on different schools.

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Wheaton Baseball Recruiting Interview

Division 3 Baseball Athletic Recruiting Interview

Learn how College Baseball Coaches Recruiting at the Division 3 Level

Wheaton College baseball coach Eric Podbelski talks about his baseball program, his recruiting efforts and his success building one of the Top Division III programs in the area.

The Wheaton baseball program was started in 1996 and since then hasn’t looked back. In a few short years Podbelski built Wheaton’s program into on of the top programs in the country, compiling a record of 55-221-5, one of the highest winning percentages among active NCAA D3 coaches. In 2015, Wheaton won its 16th NEWMAC regular season title. In 2017, Wheaton took it’s third trip to the NCAA D3 Championship.

How many States do you actively recruit in?
We cover most of the six New England States, but focus in on some key regions within those States. There is a great deal of talent in Massachusetts alone as well as Connecticut where baseball is very popular at the high school level. We also do a lot of recruiting in the Southern Maine area where we feel the baseball talent there is actually under-recruited. Vermont is a little difficult because of the shorter season and spread out area. We have also expanded our efforts into New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but I think we are going to slowly cut back our area so we can see less kids more often, instead of traveling a greater distance and maybe seeing a kid play one time.

We also attend an invitation-only Stanford Baseball Camp for one week to evaluate over 200 players.

Do you find a lot of high school players who just want to play D1 or think they can play D1
Yes, many players and parents see D1 as the be all to end all and as a stepping stone to the majors. Some kids maybe got a letter or a phone call from a Division I coach and all of a sudden think they are being recruited or think they are Division I material. As a very successful Division III player and coach, part of my job involves educating parents and students that Division III baseball is very competitive, especially with the talent and participation in New England and not to rule out any school just because they are not Division 1. I hate to see players go to a Division I school and never really get a shot to play when they could have had a successful career at another school they may have overlooked because it wasn’t Division I

What skills in particular are you looking for in players
Aside of the obvious baseball skills of hitting, throwing, fielding, I really look for intangibles in kids. Are they good teammates, do they hustle on and off the field, are they supportive of their teammates, do they complain a lot, how do they perform in important games that mean something not to just them but to the team and the school. These are things I can only learn by attending games, so my staff and I go to as many games as possible. The things I like to look for cannot always bee seen in a video or at a showcase.

What are some important recruiting concepts that parents and students you meet with don’t have a grasp of?
Again, many parents and students think they are DI material or have to play DI to be successful and they end up overlooking not only great baseball programs but great academic institutions.

Has the growth of the Internet had any effect on your job?
Not really, I don’t trust anything but my own eyes and it’s very important for me to see a player play in meaningful games to see if he would be a good fit for our program. We do have a player profile form on our baseball website that students can fill out online, but for me I still need to evaluate that player by seeing him play.

There have always been recruiting services, but in the last several years the number of online services has really grown. Do you use any of these services to search for athletes?
I personally do not and I would not recruit a player based on an online profile especially in baseball where numbers are so intangible. Just because a player hit .300 does not make that player a .300 hitter. I know our track and field coach can search for players online with certain track times but those are much more tangible statistics. A 10 second 100 Meter time is just that, it can be measured. Baseball is much different.

How many high school games do you or your coaching staff get to each year?
Because our season ends in May usually, and high schools still have a lot of games left, we get to see many games and most of our free time is spent going to games and watching players. In some cases I will send out one of my assistant coaches to see a game in lieu of attending practice that day. On our day off we will all go to see a game or games.

Do you go see players play summer ball?
Yes, I try and get to as many games as possible to see kids that I am aware of or actively recruiting, that’s why it is important to include a schedule in your recruiting package, because If I have time I will go to a game.

Do you think Division III athletic programs often get overlooked because they are not able to offer athletic scholarship aid?
Yes, over the last several years I have seen a trend in baseball where showcases, camps and private instruction has become much more prevalent and this is pressuring parents and students to get the maximum return on their efforts and in some cases they don’t see a Division III program as being the return they are looking for. There are some people I can persuade to think differently but many parents and kids are holding out for that scholarship to some DI university.

How can you get players to commit to your program without being able to offer them scholarships?
I think the success of our program speaks for itself and the fact that I guarantee a spot on the team for one year regardless of performance if I have actively recruited you and asked you to come to our school to play on the baseball team. There is always an education process with every potential recruit and their parents to open theirs eyes to programs that are not Division I. Early decision helps as well, but I do not like to push that because sometimes it causes a student to commit to a program before they are really ready to decide.

What percentage of your players receive some financial aid?
I would say over 75% of our players receive some type of financial aid.

Do you run any summer camps?
No, perhaps in the future, but I would rather spend my time working on my recruiting efforts and going to games to see players actually play.

Do you find many parents and students who started the recruiting process too late?
There are some but I think there is a better education process now than there used to be so parents and students are more aware of what they need to do and when, and are more aware of what is at stake if they wait around.

Do you receive a lot of video’s from players?
Yes

What do you like to see on Videos?
Things specific to your position. Some tee work or soft-toss and live BP. It is also important to change angles, so if you are hitting, maybe one angle from the pitcher, one from catcher and one from the side. Ideally, I would like some offensive and defensive drills shot from different angles and some game tape. I would say about 10-15 minutes of footage would be more than adequate but length depends on what is being shown. If you want to show off your speed by stealing second base, I don’t really have time to watch 7 pitches before that and a meeting at the pitchers mound, but I recognize that not everyone has access to editing equipment.

Do you have any programs in place to help incoming freshman adjust to the college environment?
Incoming freshman go through different workshops in freshman orientation that the school provides. Players also live with another player so that helps a little as well. I also meet with all my players to see how they are doing and arrange study halls if need be. The upperclassmen are also very supportive of freshman so that helps out as well.

Do you attend Baseball showcases and what are your thoughts on these?
I probably attend 15-20 showcases a year including things like Bay State Games and the Brockton Invitational. I don’t usually attend indoor showcases because they are usually in the winter when kids are not even in baseball mode and often times they end up looking worse. Outdoor showcases allow me to see a lot of players quickly but I never use those as a final way to evaluate talent. Many kids at showcases put a smile on their face and hustle their butt off, then you see them 4 months later at a high school game, walking on and off the field, moping around and generally not being a good teammate. Bay State games gives me the chance to see many good players and I usually attend all 4 days of competition when other coaches have gone home. I like to see how the kids in the final games act because they have something important to play for.

Do you find a lot of high school coaches willing to assist their players in their recruiting efforts?
Some are very accessible, others don’t want to be bothered. If they don’t want to help or don’t know how to help their players, at the least I wish they would make more of an effort to find other people that can help their players.

At the peak of your recruiting efforts, how many players might you be evaluating?
We send letters and surveys out to between 400-500 kids and from that we get maybe 300 back. From there we can cross off some kids due to grades and test scores, but if we are unsure, we like to follow up with their school and guidance counselor. Once we have done that and evaluated the surveys, we get a list of maybe 100 kids that we really go after and then make phone calls and invite them to see the school.

Do you think parents and players realize that the spring season of their senior year is too late to have an impact on their recruiting efforts.
Well, in some cases I can use the spring to evaluate two players I may be looking at for the same position. Sometimes a player does not develop till their senior year, so it is good to see them again if you haven’t seen them since they were a junior. All that aside, its important that students start the recruiting process early. The deposit date for Wheaton is May 1st, so its not like players have all spring to decide.

Some people say a students ability to communicate with a coach shows a certain level of maturity, do you think its better if the student or the coach/parent makes first contact with you?
Many parents are like agents and they end up trying to sell their son to a program and don’t have a clear understanding of what the recruiting process is about. I would much rather hear from a player but I can tell you most of my calls are from parents and I can also tell you that there is an inherent distrust of parents amongst college coaches. They aren’t bad people, its just hard for them to be impartial when it comes to their children.

What is your fall season like?
We have practice for 5 weeks and go 6 days a week. The NCAA has recently cut off-season practice time down from 6 weeks.

How many players do you usually have at tryouts in the fall?
I do things a little differently. If you have been recruited by our staff and asked to come to our school to play baseball, we guarantee you a spot on the team for at least one year regardless of performance unless there are disciplinary problems at any time. In this case I have a good idea of who is going to be on our team for the coming year.

What about Walk-on’s?
We have a one day walk-on tryout that is separate from team practice and usually involves about 15-20 players. Anyone that we keep from this walk-on day will practice with the varsity for the remaining 41/2 weeks of practice and then I will make additional cuts at the end of our fall season.

How many games do you play in the spring?
We play 40 regular season games plus our conference championship, plus any post-season games we qualify for.

Have you had any players go on to play professionally?
Since our program is only 5 years old, no, but we have a few players that we feel have a chance to continue their baseball careers at the professional level.

Do you play any Division I or II teams?
With our conference games and the many other DIII teams in New England, it is hard to fit additional games in. From a DI standpoint, there is not much of an incentive for them to play us because they lose points on their power index rating, and if they lose the game which is a distinct possibility, it doesn’t look good either for their program.

Do you take a spring trip?
Yes, we go to Homestead Florida, which is in the Miami area. We play 10 games in 9 days mostly against other cold weather teams on their spring trips but also against teams that are located down there.

Do you communicate with other coaches when it comes to players you are recruiting?
Well, we are often after the same players so in those cases not really, but often times there are players who are over-qualified or under-qualified academically and often we will see other coaches and discuss players that are not within our reach but may be within the reach of another school, and that goes both ways, I will tell other coaches about players they should check out and they will tell me about players that I should check out.

Eric, you have been more than helpful today, I would like to wrap up the interview by asking you what you think parents and students should do as a first step to get their recruiting efforts underway?
I would say there are three important things they should do. The first would be to try and evaluate your talent level accurately. No one is happy when you overshoot and you should evaluate each program on an individual basis rather than just thinking DI is where you have to be to be successful. it is more important to get into a program you can be successful at both athletically and academically.

Second. Kids should take a more pro-active role in their recruiting efforts and their efforts to contact coaches. They should be sending out letters telling us who they are, where they are, and what they do. They should include references and articles that are highlighted and schedules, because If I have time I will drive to see a game.

Third. Make sure you are on your best behavior during games. I need to get out and see every player play in real games that are important to not only the player, but to the team. How you act in a game is as important as how you play. I look for kids that are great teammates, that hustle, that support their teammates in winning situations and losing situations, kids who are not complaining and sulking on the field.

Many players think they can just show off at a few showcases and then they are all set. In my case, that is not good enough and I cannot get a true sense of a player until I have seem them play in meaningful high school games. So how you act on the field is very important to me and to other coaches as well and you never know when I will show up at a game. If I have time I am at a game and I am not only watching the player I was there to see but 20 other players as well that may be potential recruits.

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