College Recruiting: Never Call a Coach Dude

  19 Gold Medal Mel Stewart | September 03rd, 2012 | College, Featured, Lifestyle, News

Contributor, Rick Paine, is a friend and an expert on the college recruiting process.

Getting recruited is a once in a life-time opportunity. You will never go through a process like this for the rest of your life. It is a privilege and an honor. If you treat it as such then you will come across to the college coaches with respect and maturity.

College coaches are allowed to start making phone calls to recruits on July 1 for D-I and June 15 for D-II after the completion of grade 11. D-I coaches are only allowed to call once a week. You are allowed to call them at any time and any number of times. D-III and NAIA schools don’t have any restrictions on phone calls.

Your objectives:

  • Leave a great impression by presenting yourself with respect and maturity
  • Engage the coach with good in depth questions about the school, the swim program and something from their bio. Make the conversation fun so that the coach looks forward to calling you back next week
  • Ask questions that are important to you and that help you get to know the coach
  • Write it down. Take notes on every conversation you have with a coach and keep it by the phone.
  • Exude self-confidence, but don’t be cocky. You want to help the coach see your potential. Let them know what your goals are and what you intend to do differently in training to accomplish them. Goals that sound good, but don’t have a plan to reach them are just dreams. Coaches aren’t that interested in just dreams.

Recruit: My coach and I had a goal setting meeting and I am excited about this season. I will be :57.9 or faster in the 100 fly at sectionals in March. I will be improving my kicking in practice, I am going to discipline myself to take 5 kicks off each wall and I am adding an extra day of core strengthening.

Get your act together before coaches start calling.

  • Talk with your family about what to expect
  • Make sure they take messages for you if you are not available
  • Keep a pad and pen next to the phone at all times
  • Set up a quiet place to take calls. For a coach it gets annoying to try to talk with a recruit with the TV blaring in the background or having your brother and sister yelling at each other.
  • Determine a schedule for when you will be available and make sure your family lets the coach know when to call back.
  • Make sure you have a list of questions that are most important to you. Ask about academics first then swimming.

Treat every coach with RESPECT. You should feel honored when any college coach calls you. Even if you are certain that you are not interested in a school, a coach deserves your respect. Politely listen to what they have to say then you can let them know that you are not interested. Do it with “class.”

Do your homework

If you have some idea of the coaches who will be calling you go to the schools’ website and get to know some things about the program and the coach. Write it down. Look at the archived news articles at the end of the season to read what the coach considered the highlights of the season. Take a look at the coach’s bio to get some personal info about the coach.

Home or cell?

You want coaches calling you on your home number so you can get away from distractions and have your notes in front of you. There is nothing more annoying for a coach than to call a recruit on their cell phone when they are in the car with all of their buddies.

Cell phone greeting.

It is OK to give out your cell to some coaches, but make sure your voice message represents you well. If your voice message says something like: “Hey dude, too bad you missed me. Leave a message and I might call you back if I feel like it” CHANGE IT!!!

Be available.

For a coach, there is nothing more frustrating than to call a recruit a half a dozen times and not catch them. They will gravitate toward the recruits who are easier to reach. You don’t have to take calls 24 hours a day, so make sure you and your family have a game plan to have them take calls when you are not available. They need to write down the coach’s name, the exact school and any message the coach wants to leave. Establish specific days and times when you will be home and available to take calls and make sure your parents and siblings let the coaches know when you can be reached…..and BE THERE!

What and what not to talk about on the first call.

Don’t ask about scholarship in the first call. The first call is a “get to know you” call. The coach is trying to determine if they will offer you a recruiting visit in the fall. You should be honored if a coach wants you to come for a visit, but don’t commit on the first call. Take down any dates the coach gives you and let them know that you have to check with your parents and your coach to make sure you will be available. Don’t commit to a trip until you get an idea of whether or not your parents can afford the school.

One the second or third call here is the conversation you need to have with the coach;

Coach: We really want you to come a visit us on the weekend of September 25. That’s our big recruiting weekend and you are one of our top recruits.

Recruit: Coach thank you. I am honored and excited to come see the school, meet you and the other coaches and the swimmers, but I have to be honest with you, finances will be a concern for my family and my parents want to be sure they can afford for me to attend a school before I commit to a visit. They would like to get an idea of how much you think it might cost for me to attend. Can you give me an idea so I can let them know?

You may or may not get a straight answer from the coach, but at least you have let them know that finances will be an issue and that you won’t be able to walk-on.

How to engage the coach:

 “Coach Smith I read that you were named conference coach of the year last season. That must have been exciting.” (Let the coach talk about the year they had and their success).

“Coach Smith I read on your bio that you and your wife have a 10 year daughter. Does she swim?” (Let the coach talk about his/her kids and family).

“Coach Smith I read that you are a serious tri-athlete. How much do you train a week?” (Let the coach talk about something that is fun and important to them other than swimming)

Ask the coach’s advice. “Coach Smith do you have any suggestions for a pre workout meal in the morning. I drive myself to practice every morning and I fix my own breakfast. What do you recommend for your swimmers to eat before practice? What you have accomplished by asking the question in addition to receiving nutritional information is to show the coach how responsible you are by getting yourself up and to practice in the morning.

Ask yourself: “How does it feel to have a college coach wanting you to come and swim for them?” You should be proud of yourself and allow your self-confidence to build as a result.

Every coach deserves your respect and undivided attention when they call and ………..never  call a coach “Dude.”

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19 Comments on "College Recruiting: Never Call a Coach Dude"

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4 years 1 month ago

nice article. phone calls can be awkward for both parties. some good tips there.

4 years 1 month ago

I didn’t thing teenagers still talked on the telephone anymore.

4 years 1 month ago

This is great information. Because kids don’t talk on the phone much anymore, all the more reason to be prepared and do some practice It would have been nice to have this published in April or May in advance of those July phone calls. And yes, some coaches do call the swimmers “Dude” first!

4 years 1 month ago

D2 can now call unlimited after June 15 of sophomore year. Unsure if similar legislation now exists in D1.

Chest Rockwell
4 years 1 month ago

What if he calls you dude first?

4 years 1 month ago

I’m the dude playing the dude, disguised as a another dude!

4 years 1 month ago

Some good points given as keeping record of calls.
It is biased in one direction though. It is an interesting process but I never knew that it was an
“honor and privilege” that may go a little far in explaining it. The coach is a salesman and an extension of there admission office in some respects. Do the coaches get an article on there own presentation and honesty in presentation to the swimmers out there?

4 years 1 month ago

Must be a disgruntled club coach. No college coach would confuse their and there twice in three sentences. It is most certainly an honor and a privilege when you’re a 17 year old boy and have Dave Durden, Eddie Reese, Greg Troy, and Jack Bauerle calling on the phone or adding in Teri McKeever / Dave Salo in place of Durden/Reese if you’re a girl. Also, these coaches have the power to drastically change your life in the form of coming out of school debt free vs. upwards of tens of thousands of dollars in debt. In today’s economy, that is almost certainly an honor AND a privilege.

Take the underdeveloped but ultra talented 17 year old female for example who played three sports in high school and now wants to dedicate herself to swimming. She is looking at a mix of D1 and DII schools. The D1 coach with a well trained eye and more scholarship dollars sees potential in her 5’11” frame and knowing that she has never lifted before AND is a former volleyball/track star (outside hitter / high jumper) takes a chance and offers her a well above average scholarship. It takes some adjustment, and a lot of hard work, but after three years the 24.7 / 53.9 former DII recruit and walk-on at any other DI school is 22/49+ and a 70% kid going to NCAA’s on relays for a legitimate program.

As far as honesty in the program – USA Swimming makes it terribly easy to evaluate honesty in a college program. Use the swims database and look at kids where they were their senior year of high school vs. what they do each year in college. Do it for every single swimmer on a college coaches roster and for every event. Compare / Contrast. If the coach is telling you they are running a big-time sprint program and aren’t breaking 1:20 in the 200 free relay you better be on the swims data base to find out where those kids are coming in. IF they’re getting 20. or 21.low freestylers and can’t break 1:20 you know they aint running a sprint program baby!!! But if all four kids from that 1:21.00 200 free relay came in at 22+ you better give that coach a look. If they’re breaking 3:00 with a bunch of 47.8 guys out of high school give that coach a look. Likewise if a program is getting a stable of 44+ / 45.low guys out of high school and the relay is going 3:01….. RUN!!!!

4 years 1 month ago

Dutchwomen, “No college coach would confuse their and there twice in three sentences”

I think COACHGB should be given some credit for getting the third “there” right. Let’s focus on the positives.

4 years 1 month ago

in all seriousness though, methinks we shouldn’t start picking apart grammatical errors, incorrect verb tenses etc. English is a 2nd (or 3rd) language for many here and knowing the grammar police are monitoring will result in overall fewer posts. I make miskates all the time.

4 years 1 month ago

That was just a side jab, not the focus of my argument….and it is a message board, all in good fun. One should not take this stuff too seriously, I relate it to playful banter around the table amidst old friends and fine ales.

4 years 1 month ago

That old Achilles heel comes out again as my grammar work since elementary school has come to haunt me. Thankfully there is no grammar test to coach in college. I coached at at a University 16 years in a great experience. I do coach club now and sure hope I’m not disgruntled as it would ruin one of my slogans that with coaching wherever or what level that I say ” I have never worked a day in my life” because of what this sport given me the opportunities I have enjoyed.
I just feel in my comments there is two sides to recruiting having recruited at the college and st the same time with the club I also had I was helping those in their looking at schools. Some of my swimmers even swam against my team. It was always great fun.
There are so many fine college coaches but I feel they are just humans and want to be looked that way as I feel the same about the Olympians who have created such fine images.
I was not a recruited swimmer at my little NY State school (2000 students) and today DIII, but I had a coach who influenced me in looking at all sides of coaching. My point might be that I have not seen enough info for swimmers and parents from their side in the process on the many things to look at and it is very complicated.. I guess my background has me see it differently that it is not an ” honor and privilege” in getting the process started.

4 years 1 month ago

Our intent at American College Connection is to help the kids present their best side when getting recruited. I spent 17 years as the Recruiting Coordinator at Nebraska and I always gravitated to the kids who were respectful. We are trying to give our swimmers the “edge” in the recruiting process.
As a former college coaches I always enjoyed speaking with recruits who had some phone skills. Those were the ones I WANTED to call back.

4 years 1 month ago

I would add that the swimmer should ask if their application to the school should be sent to the coach or straight to admissions. Also, the swimmer should ask to be pointed in the right direction to find financial aid other than the swimming scholarship and for any tips that might help them to get a foot in the door toward academic or other money. Just sayin… I wish I had known about some of the money out there that I might have qualified for back in the day.

4 years 1 month ago

I get that this was mostly about handling phone conversations, but prospective recruits need to be conscious of how they present themselves online as well. Thoughtless Facebook/Twitter comments about current coaches, teachers, school work, parents, teammates, prospective coaches/schools/teammates, and fellow recruits don’t project positive images of recruits. With extremely limited scholarship money, what coach/program is going to want to bring on a high maintenance swimmer who can’t get their act together even when they (should) know they’re being scrutinized during the recruiting period?

4 years 1 month ago

I cannot agree enough, Goose. You won’t believe the stuff I see recruits saying on twitter these days, with what appears to be no care in the world whatsoever that it is public and anyone can read it. No shame whatsoever. Are the kids that dumb or just apathetic?

Hey kids, no one will want to recruit you if you’re dropping F Bombs on twitter, just an FYI.

4 years 1 month ago

Both of you are right on the money. We advise our swimmers, “If you don’t your momma to read it then don’t post it.”

4 years 1 month ago

it is also important to always start by calling the coach “Coach”. Never begin by calling him or her by their first name. I just looked at some emails a recruit sent my former coach, who we call Coach, and to see his first name used in the email doesn’t like right from even an alumni standpoint.

4 years 1 month ago

Great suggestion.


About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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