The good news is so many gymnasts actually do a fantastic job. College coaches are aware of these young athlete's shortcomings and will give them room to learn and adapt in the recruiting process. Coaches aren't expecting perfection; however, they are looking for passion. The passionate recruit will be the one who does their very best to "try" and speak on their own behalf, the one who pushes outside of their comfort zone to get recruited. That said, it is completely appropriate and quite important for the parent to be involved and take part in conversations when it comes to some of the topics like scholarships or financial aid packages.
But, naturally, parents want to write the emails, make the phone calls and leave messages, as well as do the majority of the talking on the recruiting trips. This can leave a bad impression on the college coach. There is definitely a balance in all of the recruiting process...I hope the quotes below will give you a new perspective through the eyes of the college coaches and what goes through their minds as they recruit athletes.
Lacrosse coach, Yale University:
“We want self-starters in our program. And not only for our program but also for our university. You’re just not going to bear fruit at a place like Yale if you can’t take the initiative during the recruiting process. Additionally, I know that every high school kid in America has an online presence. You all have an email account and access to everything you need! If you can’t take the time to let us know what you’re looking for in a college home, don’t waste your time having your parents do it for you. It goes back to that idea of toughness. Are you really cut out for this if you’re mom and dad are doing all the work for you? If you were a coach, would you rather have the kid that handles it himself, or has his parents do it all for him? My advice for parents is to let your child take the lead. That’s the way it’s going to be once they’re on campus, anyway.”
Baseball coach, University of Arkansas:
“Certainly, we want parents involved in the recruiting process. It’s their child and they’ve been a part of this whole thing from the get-go. But, here’s the deal: coaches want to deal with players, not parents. We’re recruiting your son to be a part of our program and we want to communicate with him. What does he want? What does he think? Those are the opinions that matter the most to us. If we’re dealing more with a parent, than we are with a recruit, that’s not a good thing. Ideally, parents would play a supportive role and let their son do the talking. Sure, help him gather info, provide objective feedback and get your son to a place where he’s seeing every angle. But, to play at a school like Arkansas, your son has got to be able to put himself out there and be bold. If he can’t do that during the recruiting process, he’s probably not going to have a lot of success, once he’s on campus."
1. Help your athlete set aside one day a week to work on recruiting
2. Encourage your athlete to be organized throughout the process with a spreadsheet or notebook of important items they gather throughout the process
3. Of course get the flights, hotels and accommodations needed for visits
4. Be the voice of reality and encouragement along the way
5. Be by their side but let them make mistakes and lead the process
6. Help them apply to the universities and respond quickly to any coaches requests
7. Lastly try to make the recruiting process fun
About Jill Hicks:
Jill Hicks is a former elite gymnast, Division I college athlete, club coach and Division I college gymnastics coach (Cal State Fullerton, Oregon State) and the owner of Jill Hicks Consulting, where she provides recruiting services and choreography for prospective student-athletes and their families. For further information visit: www.jhicksconsulting.com
Editor's Note: Publication of this article is not an endorsement of any recruiting service. Always check with the NCAA or your school's compliance officer for any questions regarding recruiting rules, the latest timelines, or other issues.