Promoting yourself as a student athlete is about getting noticed. There are too many student athletes for coaches to notice and keep track of everyone. So, it’s your job to distinguish yourself from the pool of athletes. You should also make an honest assessment of your abilities and try to find those schools that fit both your sports and scholastic skills.
For instance, your athletic prowness may gain you admission into a prestigious small college such as Swarthmore or Amherst, but your grades and study habits may not be in the same league.
Likewise, your grades may get you into Florida State University, but don’t plan on too much playing time.
So ideally, you should find a middle ground school that matches both your athletic and academic profile.
Here’s a year-by-year helpful timetable to follow:
High School Sophomore Year -
This is a time to lay the groundwork. As you research schools using the concepts above, get ready to begin making preliminary inquiries. You do not require, at this stage, an athletic resume, but you do need an Inquiry Letter.
It should simply be a brief letter expressing your interest in finding out more about the school’s athletic program. Also, if you know something specific about the school, such as some recent championship or other honor it has achieved, don’t fail to mention it.
As you send these letters out, make sure you’re addressing it to the right coach. Your school should have a copy of the National Association of College Directors of Athletics’ (NACDA) directory listing, which lists the names and addresses of all the college coaches in the country. There’s a separate listing for men and women’s sports. The contact number is (800) 426-2232.
In response to this initial inquiry, you will probably receive some sort of media guide and current sports schedule.That’s fine. All you really want at this stage, is some basic school literature while getting your name out there.
High School Junior Year -
Now things are getting a little more serious. Coaches are paying more attention. As you narrow down your school selection and make sure you meet any special entrance requirements, you’ll begin putting together an athletic packet to market yourself. Over the summer between your junior and senior year, with your high school coach’s assistance, you should begin sending out these packets to your selected colleges. The packet should include:
- A cover letter explaining your interest in the school
- Your sports resume, which should start with your academics.
- A letter of recommendation from your high school coach.
- A list with locations and times of all your upcoming competitions, just so they know when and where to look for you.
- Highlights of yourself in action. Keep it under ten minutes. If it’s a team sports, make sure you get some close ups, and show how you move around the field and interact with your teammates. Also, remember to include your uniform number.
- Newspaper clippings if available.
NOTE 1: Some coaches in team sports (e.g. football) may ask you for a tape of the full game rather than just selective highlights.
NOTE 2: Unless you want to have your tape fully ignored, NEVER under any circumstances add background music or any other form of silly editing.
High School Senior Year -
Send updates throughout the year. It should include any recent accomplishments (newespaper clippings if available). Also include any academic awards or progress. Send this together with a cover letter reaffirming your interest in the program.
You may also call coaches over the phone. NCAA Division I and II rules prohibits coaches from calling you at home (or receiving a collect call from you) until July 1st following your junior year (or August 15th for football). However, they can write you, or speak to you during an unofficial visit to the campus.