College Recruiting 101
Choosing a college can seem like quite a daunting task and trying to get recruited can seem even more overwhelming. It can be hard to figure out where to start and what to do to get noticed.
There are a variety of recruiting databases, this is the best place to start. Most of these require you to fill out a questionnaire. Most of the information is rowing related such as 2k and 6k times, side you row, if you can scull and sweep, and so on. If you are a USRowing member (either a basic or championship member) you have access to RowOn which is USRowing's new recruiting resource. Not only can you create a recruiting profile, but you can also search different college programs on this database. Vespoli also has a recruiting database: Vespoli Recruiting Services.
After creating a few recruiting profiles you can begin thinking about where you want to go to college. Here is where you begin to factor in the importance of location, school size, academic programs, tuition, financial aid, and other such things. Then you can begin thinking about the rowing program you want. Don't just focus on Division I programs, keep in mind that your top priority from college is your education. Your dream academic program might be found at a Division II or III school instead. You may decide that with your intended academic route a club program would be more suited to your schedule. There are a couple of things to keep in mind, only Division I or II schools will provide athletic scholarships. A Division III school, club program, or Ivy League school will not provide an athletic scholarship, but that does not mean other scholarship opportunities or financial aid resources are not available.
If you choose the Division I, II, or III route, a valuable resource will be the NCAA Future Student-Athletes site. This will help walk you through many of the important processes and keep you up-to-date on certain recruiting rules. You don't want to find yourself in a situation where you accidentally incur an NCAA violation before you even have a chance to row on an NCAA team.
Once you have a list of universities you are interested in and are familiar with NCAA recruiting legislation you should create a rowing resume and packet that you can send to each university on your list. A rowing resume should include: your full name, date of birth and age, current contact information (address, phone, email), GPA, class rank, ACT and/or SAT score, height, weight, wingspan, sport, date of graduation, high school (name, address, phone), name of your guidance counselor and phone/email, team name, coach name, coach contact information, academic awards/honors, athletic awards, academic interests in college, additional information (what squad are you on, best times (500m, 2k, 5k/6k), include a list of past races with seat/side in boat and place finished). The packet should include your rowing resume, video footage from races or practice, a class picture, and a picture of you racing. Send a packet to each school you are interested in, addressed to the head coach.
From there visit each university's website, most teams have a recruiting questionnaire. Although much of the information will probably be repeated from your rowing resume, you should fill it out. Especially if you're interested in a specific university you will want to keep popping up on their radar.
Feel free to contact the coaches about your goals and rowing plans. It shows initiative and can help them let you know how well you would fit with their program.
During the fall of your senior year you'll want to begin visiting different schools if you haven't already. Unless a school is high on your list don't use an official visit on them since you only have a set number of those. For schools that are nearby or aren't as high on your list, go on unofficial visits. Make sure you use either type of visit to find out more about the university and team. By the time you've visited each school on your list you should have a good idea of where you want to end up.
Ke eep in mind a basic timeline idea in order to stay on track and be eligible to compete. As a freshman in high school begin working on the sixteen core credits required by the NCAA. Look on the NCAA website for an up-to-date listing. As a sophomore register with the NCAA Eligibility Center (formerly known as the NCAA Clearing House) at www.eligibilitycenter.org. You can also begin creating your online rowing profiles and begin compiling your rowing resume. Make sure you keep all of these accurate and up-to-date. In your junior year take the ACT and SAT. Make sure you include the NCAA Eligibility Center as a score recipient, their code is 9999. If you have a good idea of what universities you are interested in you can include them as a recipient at this point as well. Here you can begin contacting coaches; filling out their on-line questionnaires and mailing out your packets. At this point you can also begin making unofficial visits to campuses and hopefully begin getting a better idea of where you want to end up. At the end of your junior year, have your high school send your transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center. As a senior you can begin taking official visits. Stay in communication with the coaches and keep them up to date on your decisions. There are two signing periods for rowers, there is the early period in November and the regular signing period in April.
After you sign it is still important to stay in contact with the coaching staff. Ask if they have summer workout plans or if they have certain things they will test you on at the beginning of the fall season. You want to come in as fit as possible, ready to hit the water rowing.
Be sure and check with your coaches if you have any questions!