This week, Alison Vincent, our head recruiting coach for track and field and cross country, conducted a webinar for track and field college recruiting strategies to keep in mind while you get ready for the spring season. Alison’s helped 4,726 student-athletes and counting commit to colleges across all divisions of NCAA, NAIA and JUCO play. Here are some highlights of her top tips.
And while these are addressed to track and field and cross country athletes, they certainly apply to other sports, as well.
Know your numbers.
Approximately 1,700 programs offer some type of track and field or cross country program, allowing just about 100,000 men and women to participate in the college level. That means there’s an 11 percent chance to run (which I’ll just use as a generic verb, but you should take to mean sprint, run, jump, hurdle and throw) for women, and a 7 percent chance for men.
You can’t fake your track and field performance to college coaches.
“Track and field at the college level is very black and white,” Alison says. There’s overlap in the highs and lows, but on the most part you know what division level you qualify for, and what opportunities you might have. “You can call up any coach in the country, and tell them your event, and they would tell you their numbers to walk-on, and to qualify for a scholarship.”
Even in NCAA Division III, in which coaches have no athletic scholarships to give, students can still have conversations about what their performance needs to be to get on the team.
Get your priorities straight.
“When you’re in high school the drive is to make it to states, and then to place in states, and then to win states,” Alison says. “I know I did it. My freshman year I made it to states and I was happy to be there. My sophomore year I wanted to be up at the podium. And then junior year, senior year, I wanted to win; I wanted to win both of my events.”
But it’s a different game to think about running in college because as a freshman, you’re going to be signing up to contribute to the team. If you’re looking at top-tier schools, that means participating in nationals.
Don’t make it hard for coaches to want you on their team.
Whether it’s working smartly toward PRs in your main events, adding a second or third event to make you more versatile, or hitting the books to keep your GPA up, you need to make sure you’re an attractive recruit for college coaches.
“And, look. I can take your name and find all of your track results online,” Alison says. “But I don’t know what your grades are. And as a college coach, I’m not going to have time to call you to ask you about your grades and your personality. So make it easy for me. Highlight all of your skills in one place.” Not sure what that one place is? We can help you build out your recruiting profile.
And that includes having video of your performance which, if you’re a cross country runner, is much easier to capture during a long-distance event in the spring — on a track — than on the rolling woods or golf courses of your fall races. (Hint hint, juniors: Get those videos filmed this season.)
No. Really. Get your priorities straight.
“Our sport is not a million-dollar career sport,” Alison says. “Even if you train for an Olympic cycle, you’re not going to make a million dollars.”
So make sure you have your head in the right place. Beyond the opportunity to find experiences no one else will have as a track and field or cross country athlete in college, you’re going to have an education. Hopefully you’ll graduate without a lot of debt, and you’ll have a great degree.
Want invitations to future webinars? Or would you rather have a personal evaluation of your standing as a potential recruit for college coaches? Either way, it’s easy to get started.