Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham
With changes to NCAA rules on recruiting, kids are signing earlier and earlier. Some of the new regulations can be found in the SwimSwam article “NCAA ADJUSTS RECRUITING DATES, LOCATIONS FOR PROSPECTS:”
“The impetus behind the legislation is the growing amount of recruiting of and verbal commitments by middle school athletes. While recruiting within swimming hasn’t yet gone that far, we have seen a complete paradigm shift in the recruiting process the past couple years, with more and more high-level swimmers verbally committing in the spring of their junior years and some during their sophomore years.”
Other SwimSwam articles with early rankings are helpful to understand the new rules and trends, including WAY TOO EARLY NCAA RECRUIT RANKS: BOYS HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2020 and WAY TOO EARLY NCAA RECRUIT RANKS: GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2020.
I have talked with several college coaches who say the recruiting calendar has moved up during the past few years, even before the new regulations, and they don’t believe it’s a good thing. They’d like kids to come for official visits and see what their schools are like firsthand. But, often with the goal to get one of the coveted spots on a team, a swimmer will commit sight unseen or after an unofficial visit. Some feel pressure to commit over the phone. This makes it difficult for other coaches to compete or even ask swimmers they’re recruiting to come on official visits.
Here are three ways student-athletes look at prospective schools and why they should go on recruit trips:
Without parents asking questions or steering a child’s thoughts one way or another, an official visit helps swimmers see for themselves what a coach, university and teammates are like. Some schools may take kids out at night and the student-athletes can figure out if the school condones partying or not and if they feel comfortable with the team’s culture. They will get to observe coaches’ interactions with athletes and get a good feel for the campus. Of course, there’s a lot of selling going on during official visits, and everything is presented in the best light, but our perceptive kids can get a good look and feel.
I think it’s important to go on unofficial visits and campus tours with your kids their sophomore and junior years. The benefits are getting our kids used to speaking to college coaches. They get exposure to what questions coaches will ask them, and may figure out what they want to ask, as well. These visits should be without pressure, but information gathering sessions. They offer practice for your children for the recruiting process and official visits ahead.
There is so much information available online. You can help your kids with initial research visiting University websites, looking at average SAT and ACT scores, as well as taking a deep dive into the Swimming and Dive pages. You’ll know if your child can make a contribution to the team by looking at the conference meet results and the top times from the team. However, my daughter mentioned viewing a college through their website and social media doesn’t give you the full picture. “It’s like watching someone take the picture they post on Instagram. It’s different in person than it is online,” she said.
What do you believe the benefits are for student-athletes to go on recruit trips?
Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.