How to Recruit Yourself for College Athletics

Dan Campagna

So, you want to continue to play a sport in college but you’re just not sure how to go about the college recruiting process. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one wondering how to keep your athletic career alive at the next level. In fact, only about 10 percent of high school athletes go on to play sports in college. And only one percent will receive an athletic scholarship. If you’re not in the one percent, THAT’S OKAY! There’s still plenty of ways (and time) to find a roster spot for your freshman year of college.

Emmanuel College men’s lacrosse

Here are FIVE things about the college recruiting process I wish I had known when I was looking to become a student-athlete:

Find a school that is the right fit for you even without playing a sport

So many student-athletes pick an institution to continue their sport based ONLY on that opportunity to keep their playing careers alive. But then an injury occurs or they find themselves forced to step away from the team for a reason. And they realize the school isn’t where they want to be. Choose a school that you could see yourself at no matter what happens with your playing career. At the end of the day, you’re going to college to get a degree and set yourself up for a successful career after you graduate.

Emmanuel College softball

Visit your top choices and try to schedule an official overnight visit

After you’ve narrowed down your schools to a short list, set up an official overnight college visit with the coach or an admissions counselor. This will allow you to live a day in the life of a student-athlete so you can experience meeting the team, eating in the dining hall and attending a class. It’s important to know what you’re signing on for. An overnight visit is a good snapshot of what the real thing will look like.

Have multiple conversations with the coaching staff

Every student-athlete knows what motivates them so it’s important to have several conversations with your future coaching staff to ensure that your playing style gels with their coaching style. Some programs emphasize winning way more than others while some programs are more about providing a well-rounded college experience. These are things that a conversation with a coaching staff will help identify so that their goals and your goals can align before you commit to joining the team.

Emmanuel College men’s soccer

Verbal commitments are not binding

Many coaches ask for a “verbal commitment” from prospects as part of college recruiting. This is basically just asking potential student-athletes to give them their word that they plan to enroll and play at their institution. It helps coaches with forecasting the roster for years to come. Both players and coaches feel good about verbal commitments. However, just be aware that they are not binding. Both a player and a coach could change their mind at any time regarding their commitment for any reason.

Emmanuel College women’s outdoor track & field

Be honest with your wants and needs as a student­-athlete

Make sure you know what you’re looking for both from the perspective of your sport and your academic needs. Do you want to play in or around a city so you have a network when you graduate with unlimited internship opportunities? Are you trying to go pro after college? Do you need financial aid? Does the school have your intended major? Know what you want and what you need to keep your dreams alive for playing at the college level. But also set yourself up for success when you graduate.

If you keep these things in mind while you’re going through the college recruiting process, you’re in good shape to find a place to play AND call home for your college years.

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Dan Campagna
Dan Campagna

Dan was a three-sport collegiate athlete at Emmanuel College and after graduating in 2007, went on to get his MBA at UMass Boston where he began working in college athletics as an administrator and coach. Dan is an avid Boston sports fan, enjoys running and also sings in a semi-professional a cappella group called Fermata Town.