Is Your Daughter Interested in Playing Sports in College? Here Are 8 Helpful Tips.
Does your daughter have a dream of playing sports in college? Pursuing college athletics is a very exciting prospect for the student-athlete, but it can also be daunting. Many people might not know where to even begin. This guideline will help you understand the basics of the recruiting process and what you can do to boost your chances of finding just the right college sports fit.
Do your research. Most people are familiar with Division I sports, but there are many different types of divisions that a student-athlete can compete in. Besides Division I, there’s Division II, Division III, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and JUCO. Different divisions have different requirements for competing, so be sure to familiarize yourself with eligibility rules as well. Reach out to your Athletics Director and College Counselor for guidance, as navigating the process can be a challenge. Check out resources such as the NCAA Eligibility page
and the NCAA College-Bound Athlete Guide
Know the different types of divisions.
DI: The highest level of competition and commitment. Student-athletes are expected to train 6 days a week, 4 hours a day. Division I schools offer the most athletic scholarships and have the biggest athletic budgets.
DII: More balanced; not as competitive and intense as Division I but still offer competitive competition with growth opportunities.
DIII: No athletic scholarships offered; more of an academic focus while also offering competitive athletics.
NAIA: National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics; Smaller private schools.
JUCO: Only a two year program, but mainly gives full-ride scholarships and an opportunity to continue growing and transfer to a 4 year program.
Make a list of target schools. Create a list of schools that you are interested in, starting with Division I and working to DIII, NAIA and JUCO. Make a wide range and you can narrow it down throughout your process.
Attend showcases and summer camps. Go to any camp or showcase you can. The only way coaches can watch you play is if you attend their camps and showcases.
Contact the coaches. Send coaches emails with your “athletic resume”—a list of records, awards, etc. Send highlight videos. And email coaches every time you are going to a showcase or tournament. If a coach shows interest in you in a camp or showcase, email the coach immediately after the event.
Know the academic requirements. Only your core courses will be used when determining your GPA with the NCAA. There are sixteen core courses, covering the subjects of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy. Each high school has its own list of NCAA approved core courses. Meet with your high school counselor to confirm your classes will meet the NCAA GPA requirements.
Make a skills video with your highlights to send to coaches. Coaches cannot make every game. Therefore you should make a highlight video to show off all your skills. There are many platforms that you can use to help create this video.
Know the rules and regulations of recruiting. There are only certain periods, known as “contact periods,” where a college coach is allowed to have face-face contact with a student athlete or her parents. Coaches may also watch the student-athlete compete and the coach is also allowed to call the student athlete and their parents. During the “quiet period,” college coaches may write or call the student athlete but they are not allowed to have face-to-face contact with her or watch her compete. During a “dead period” a coach is not allowed to contact or watch the student athlete. Rules about contact are different depending on which division you’re interested in playing in, so be sure to look up the specifics of recruiting rules for your particular division.
Navigating through your college search process with athletics in mind can be a challenge, but following these steps will make it much easier and give your student-athlete peace of mind. Finding the right college athletics program for her will become an exciting journey.
Sarah Robertson is the Assistant Athletic Director and Head Varsity Softball Coach at Oakcrest School. Ms. Robertson earned both a Masters in Public Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management from Liberty University. She was a decorated player on Liberty's Division I Softball team, earning All-Region, All-State, and All-Conference awards as well as being Top 10 in 11 different Program Records. Ms. Robertson is the only player in program history to have 40+ doubles and stolen bases, and she helped build Liberty's teams' RPI from 260th to 25th in the country. She was named Player of the Year in Volleyball and Softball multiple years in the State of Florida for FACA. She also shares her experience in other sports as a member of the basketball and volleyball coaching staffs.