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Reading, 'Riting and Recruiting

March 18, 2008 10:16 AM

By Dede Allen
March 2008 

College tennis can be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have in your life.  As high school aged tennis player, your main concern is developing your game to the best of your ability.  You are not expected to know all of the NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA recruiting rules and regulations – that’s my job.   I’ve picked a couple of questions to test your knowledge.  These first two questions are on the NCAA Division I Coaches certification practice test.
1. Kathy is a Division I prospect being recruited by track and tennis coaches at University ABC.  She receives a phone call one evening from the track coach; she receives electronic correspondence sent by “instant messenger” from one of the tennis coaches confirming her official visit to campus in three days.  Which of the following statements is true?
 a.  Coaches are only permitted to contact prospects by email prior to the official visit.
 b. Electronic correspondence sent by “instant messenger” is not the same as a phone call.
 c. Coaches are permitted to make unlimited phone calls to a prospect during the five days immediately preceding the prospect’s official visit.
 d. An “instant message” is considered to be a phone call.
 e. Both c and d are true.

2. Steve is a prospective student-athlete being recruited by Institution ABC.   The administrative assistant to the director of athletics picks him up from the airport and gives him a ride to campus for summer pre-registration.  The student returns home for the remainder of the summer vacation.  At a later date, his coach gives him a ride from the airport to campus in order to begin classes. Which action was not permissible?
 a. The ride to campus for pre-registration.
 b. The ride to campus to attend classes.
 c. Both a and b.
 d. Neither action was a violation.

For those of you who may be US citizens abroad, here’s a question for you: (taken from the NCAA Guide to International Academic Standards for Athletics Eligibility)

3. Students enrolled in schools abroad that are under U.S. sponsorship and offer the standard U.S. curriculum, including those that serve both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens should follow the initial-eligibility requirement for a student from the U.S.   True or False

How would you handle those scenarios, where would you go for the answer?  How would you handle it at a tournament site if a college coach approached you and wanted to talk recruiting?  Is that legal in the NCAA, NAIA and/or NJCAA?  Is it legal to talk before and/or after the player has registered for the event?  Can the coach talk to your parents at the event?

The NCAA Division I Manual is almost 500 pages long; NCAA Division II Manual is just shy of 400 pages, NCAA Division III over 300 pages long.  Then there are the NAIA rules and the NJCAA rules!!  Help, where does it all end?  Do you feel confident that you can find all the answers?

The recruiting process begins with you, the player. But your parents and coaches are an integral part of a “team” that you should put together. This may come as a surprise, but teenagers sometimes have an aversion to listening to their parents and other adults?.  However, you may want communicate with a couple of adults during this process – they really can be helpful.  Start thinking about whom you might like on your team. Your player’s “teammates” could include:  parents, coaches, a guidance counselor, a favorite teacher, older siblings or friends – it’s up to you, you are the captain.

The first step in preparation for this adventure would be to develop a plan of action.  It’s typical for most high school students not to plan ahead – especially four years ahead.  Heck, how many of us plan that far ahead?  You may find that some adults on your team may want to give you a little “nudge” at some point during your freshman and sophomore years – it only for your benefit.

You MUST meet all of the core curriculum requirements in order to be eligible to compete immediately and grades ARE important.  It’s never too early to focus on your grades – BUT it can certainly be too late.  It is not your job to know all the academic requirements for the three major Collegiate Associations, but if you can find the resources, it will certainly help.  Tennis alone will NOT get you into the school of your choice.  Admissions officers and coaches want to feel confident that you can handle all of the academic requirements without struggling.

Most players can easily name the top 10 schools in the country.  Most college coaches know the top 25 recruits in the US.  Let’s review some numbers:
• There are approximately 1800 schools that provide collegiate tennis competition encompassing all levels of play (some not affiliated with NCAA, NAIA, or NJCAA)
• There are about 15,500 college tennis players.
• There are approximately 327,000 high school tennis players (9th-12th)
• There thousands of USTA players, who may not play in high school. 
• Add to the mix the great number of international players who would love to come to the US to play college tennis.

The second step, in gaining an edge over others comes from working on and developing a “marketing” plan.  A good resume and organized “portfolio” will certainly help.  Perhaps a video tape will make the difference to some coaches.  When working with video tapes, beware of the frustrated Mom and/or Dad sports broadcaster syndrome.

Step three. Honesty is the best policy.  I encourage honesty all the way through the whole process.  You need to start with an honest self-evaluation regarding dreams and goals - set realistic goals.

Since you may not be sure where you will be attending school; you may want to follow the rules and regulations for NCAA Division I programs.  They are the strictest – you will not find yourself in any recruiting difficulties by following these rules.

There is NO perfect college; however, there are lots of excellent choices.  Finding the school that is right for you should be based your academic and athletic abilities, your likes and dislikes – and not anyone else’s.

If you would like to order a copy of the “Collegiate Guide for High School Tennis Players” – you can do so on line while you check out my website and the other services I offer.  www.playcollegetennis.net(Answers to the questions 1 - e, 2 - a, 3 - true)

If you have specific questions for Dede, please email her at dede@ddasports.com. Answers to your questions may appear in next month’s column! 






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