It is no secret that I have been a big proponent of starting the recruiting process early. Remember you become a prospective student-athlete in Grade 9. Gathering the correct information is key to ensuring you are taking the right courses, training properly and pursuing it all with confidence.
An important area of development in student athletes is leadership. It is a valuable skill both on the field and off the field. Within the sports world, it is easy to see who the leaders are within a team. The leaders boost morale, lead by example, and are committed to the game.
- Maintain a positive and winning attitude
- Recognize and celebrate your teammate’s accomplishments
- Motivate the team (regular reminders of team goals)
- Organize team building activities outside of the locker room
- Maintain a level of FUN with the use of team chants, handshakes, and celebration dances
Lead by example!
- Arrive early to practices, meetings and games
- Be organized
- Listen to your coaches
- Speak to your teammates and coaches in a respectful way
- Be honest
- No negativity or complaints (it is contagious)
- Follow instructions and pay attention
Commit to the game!
- Always seek opportunities to get better
- Apply what the coaches say and implement it into the game
- Arrive early and stay late
- Ask questions and stay interested in the process
- Study, study, study!
All of these skills can be applied in the locker room and in the class room. At the end of the day, leaders are the ones who stand out within a group of people. They exude confidence and they receive respect. It is important to work on developing leadership skills as a student athlete because it helps with the recruiting process as well as your career as an athlete.
“Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”
— Vince Lombardi, Head Coach Green Bay Packers (1959-67)
Starting is simple, begin creating the vision of what you want your student-athlete years to look like.
- Go to University sporting events and games, watch games on TV or other media; become a University sports fan.
- Visit University campuses, local and whenever you are travelling.
Signing day….and the frenzy begins. All around the NCAA football and soccer players, parents, high school coaches and college coaches are all frantically putting last minute paper work together so that the student-athlete can be recognized and honoured for their commitment to sign with a respected University. More signing days coming this spring with all other sports in April.
It has been a long tradition in the NCAA and now we see U-Sports players having mini celebrations for their signing even 2 year colleges have their version of signing day. Social media has made it easy to celebrate and publicize.
I get torn at this point because part of me feels like it compares to my daughter’s graduation from pre-school and the other part of me feels happy for those players who are committing to the opportunity.
As a coach I remember waiting anxiously as National Letters of Intent showed up by scan, fax and post to seal the deal with many athletes. However, when we look at the big picture and over the many years I have watched as after signing day things do not work out for the student-athlete. More often the case now is after the big celebration of commitment student athletes back out, is it their lack of commitment or the program’s lack of support or a combination of the two. I have watched as athletes have posted tweeted and promoted their commitment and then all of a sudden they are not going:
- Grades fall
- Cold feet
- Better offer comes along (little to no consequence in most cases as they do not extend past governing bodies)
- Did not qualify (NCAA term)
- Personal reasons
While I enjoy being a part of these commitments and will certainly applaud all the athletes that get the opportunity to be a part of a signing day celebration. I am much more inclined to celebrate when the athletes shows up on campus in great shape ready to go and in there for the first practice of training camp. Reason to celebrate!!
So use your signing day as a spring board into action not a destination point. Once an athlete signs it is time to ramp up the training and re-focus academics to ensure that nothing takes the opportunity away. And for heaven’s sake if you are not ready to sign, do not sign. No coach will want you to sign if you are not committed to the opportunity because it certainly does not look good for them either when a commit drops.
Make the commitment when you are ready, celebrate it and use the 24 hour rule of wins and losses. After 24 hours forget about it and re-focus on the next challenge! Complete your university academic requirements as high as possible, get to training camp in great shape and ready to perform.
“Win the Recruiting Game!”
A great night talking to parents and young student-athletes at the Terry Fox post-secondary night. Over 200 parents and students in attendance with 16 post secondary institutions represented. There is no shortage of options, find the right fit and pursue your goals!!