Written by our recruiting consultant, Renee Lopez. Be sure to check out her Facebook Page
First published January 9th, 2018 by Renee Lopez. For full article, click here
As a high school student-athlete, you have likely received many college sports camp invites. Many market these camps as a way for prospects to “be seen” and evaluated by college coaches to get an athletic scholarship, while other camps focus on being instructed in skill development and focus on team tactics from high level coaches. What do you do when you have a limited budget and simply cannot attend all of them? When you have tons of camp brochures in your mailbox, how do you decide which college camp to attend to be offered that elusive desired athletic scholarship.
- WHAT IS YOUR PRIMARY OBJECTIVE IN ATTENDING A SPORTS CAMP?
First, you need to really decide what type of camp experience you want to have now versus later in your high school career. If you are still in middle school or entering your freshman year, you may be looking for a camp that is focused more on fun through skill development and tactics likely found at a multi-day summer camp experience. If your primary objective is to bond and grow with your team, you may want to research a team camp. Often times, these opportunities allow your whole group to work with multiple college coaches over the course of a few days to focus on team tactics.
If you are looking for a camp that is truly geared towards you getting a roster spot for a college team, you should investigate which college camps are really designed to see you in challenging situations to see how you respond (See 3 Areas To Consider Regarding Being A Student-Athlete Blog). Depending on the sport, some ID camps are great options which are geared towards being evaluated in a 1-2 day experience.
However, it’s important to note that not all camps are geared towards this. I have worked many larger camps that simply shuttle hundreds of kids to various locations to get in their matches, and not about the college recruiting process. If you want a camp where you are truly being evaluated by the coaching staff, make sure you do your homework to see what the maximum number of participants can be for a one or two day(s) experience. (For example, we would cap our one day ID camps at 75 participants and our multiday summer camps could have almost double that amount).
- DOES THE COLLEGE INVITING ME TO CAMP MEET MY PRIORITIES IN CHOOSING A COLLEGE?
If you have not already, make sure you read our recent blog on “How Do I Choose A College Beyond Athletics?” where we discuss the importance of setting priorities in evaluating schools that are the right fit for you. I always encourage student-athletes to take a “broken leg test”, meaning if you break your leg on the first day of preseason, would this college still be right for you beyond your sport?
You should research each college inviting you to their camp to see if the college meets the criteria you desire in a college. Just because a college coach sends a camp invite does not mean that it is the right fit for a college for you (or even for their program).
- Do they offer the academic major(s) you would like to pursue?
- Are the class sizes and student-professor ratio right for you?
- How about the distance from home for your family to come see you compete?
- Socially, does it offer the opportunities you are looking for to get involved in other groups on campus like student-government, volunteer organizations, or church-related activities you want during your college experience?
Evaluating these areas can help you decipher which invites should be thrown out!
- WHAT INTEREST LEVEL HAS THE COLLEGE COACHING STAFF SHOWN IN YOU AS A RECRUIT?
While the NCAA, NAIA, and other governing bodies do limit some levels of communication by college coaches to prospective student-athletes, there are ways to identify their interest level:
- Have anyone of their staff members actually seen you compete live?
- If they weren’t able to communicate with you directly, did they discuss anything with your coaches or team managers?
- Did you get an email in the first week after a recruiting showcase or did it take weeks before you heard from them?
It is important to note that the if you are in your freshman or sophomore year, the emails may sound rather generic as they are limited in what they can say. You (as the athlete, NOT THE PARENT) can always try to catch the coach in the office by calling them directly. Otherwise, a club or high school coach may be able to contact them and gauge their interest level as they may be restricted in if they can return a phone call or not to you as a student-athlete.
Finally, it is imperative you also investigate where the coaching staff is at in their process for your recruiting class. Do they have you on their short list? The coaches may be using camp to really take a good look at student-athletes. However, if you are early in your high school career, they simply may not really be focused on evaluating that class quite yet. Sometimes that is just dependent on simple manpower with the number of staff members, but note that every coaching staff have their own ways of recruiting. For example, as a NCAA DI Head Coach, I would usually focus on our short list of juniors and seniors, while my assistants would evaluate freshmen and sophomores we really had not seen much of before attending our camp event. I know head coaches who did the exact opposite, especially if they had part time assistants. Every situation is unique.