Top 5 Recruiting Tips For Finding Your Dream School

Interview: CJ Cavazos (Chloe Cavazos dad ) gives recruiting Advice to parents

So you want to run in college, but do you have what it takes? There's a good chance there is a running program out there for you, but the challenge is finding the right one.

You don't need a recruiting service. In fact, some coaches say they rarely look at them. Instead, here are five tips that will help you better navigate the recruiting process. See the top 50 Texas boys and girls recruits based on time here.

1. Register with the NCAA Clearinghouse or what is now called the NCAA Eligibility Center. You must do this if you want to run at a NCAA college. Also familiarize yourself with the three NCAA collegiate divisions: Division I, Division II, and Division III.

Division I schools are typically the large universities with heavily funded athletic programs. Scholarships are available, but the commitment required of individual runners is extreme. Running will be a huge part of your student life. Students running at top-tier Division I schools are highly recruited and are usually nationally ranked. If you are top in your state but don't have national recognition, you could possibly walk on and make the team.

Division II schools also offer scholarships but are slightly less competitive. You will spend a lot of time running, and the commitment to your sport is still pretty strong. However, athletes competing here will have more balance between athletics and study time. These students are usually ranked in the state but not rated as elite runners.

Division III consists of smaller programs where the commitment is limited. Athletic scholarships are not offered. This is the perfect place for students who want to run in college but consider education as their priority. If you did well at your district meet but didn't move on, Division III may be your best option. These three Division breakdowns are general examples. Keep in mind, there are always exceptions!

2. Research. Make sure you do your research to find the right school for you. Make a list of the schools you think you might be interested in. Include a couple of reach schools, because you never know. Get online, go to each school's website, and check out their athletics page. Compare your times to those freshman already on the roster. Are you running comparable times? University of North Texas coach Stefanie Slekis also highly recommends looking online at (Track and Field Results Reporting System). "If it is important to a high school student-athlete to earn some athletic scholarship, contacting programs that they could be an immediate contributor is the best place to start," she said. Every collegiate program is required to report all of their results to TFRRS. Using this site to compare your times can help you determine where you have the best chances of making the team.

3. Return those recruiting questionnaires you may have received from colleges and universities. Clearly, they are interested in you. Even if you are unsure about the school, it's a great place to start conversations with college coaches. Make sure you fill out the recruiting questionnaires online for schools that haven't contacted you but you are interested in. This is a great way to let those coaches know of your interest, especially if you are looking to go out of state. Once you have filled out the questionnaire, follow up with a personal email after a couple of weeks to the distance coach to see if he or she has had a chance to review your questionnaire and to talk about the possibilities of running there. This is also a great opportunity to ask the coach about the program's running standards or times it requires for scholarship or walk-on opportunities if you haven't already found them. For example, Baylor University, a Division I school, is very selective for its men's cross country program, because it only has 14 spots. Walk-ons need times like 1:54/4:20/9:25...that's for 800m, 1600m, and 3200m. For women, it's easier to walk on, because there are more spots. However, scholarship women at Baylor need times around 2:10/4:50/10:30.

4. Reach out to college coaches, even if it seems intimidating. Slekis said, "When emailing a college coach, the length of your email is not important; including the key content is what matters." She goes on to say, "Most coaches would prefer a concise email with the following information: your full name, school, city, and state you live in, phone number, GPA, ACT/SAT score, your best marks, and a link to your MileSplit profile or the link for your best mark. Including your academic success is very important, because if you are on the bubble of their recruiting standards, they might follow up with you because you are also a strong student."

5. Recruiting persistence is what a lot of this boils down to for most athletes who want to run in college. Baylor coach, Todd Harbour said, "One of my all-time favorites, Mariah Kelly, had to strongly persuade me to bring her in on a visit 2:10/5:10." Kelly went on to earn a scholarship, become a three-year captain, a Big 12 champion, school record holder and an All-American. Harbour said, "She was persistent. Taught me a huge lesson." Remember, while you might not receive a scholarship as a freshman, you may earn money in the following years. Coaches can reward their athletes with scholarships if they contribute to the program by winning points for the team. Keep in mind, the NCAA says only two percent of high school athletes are awarded some form of athletic scholarship to compete. So whether you are a national standout or the seventh runner on your varsity team, there's a good chance you can land a roster spot somewhere. Most runners will not get the big scholarships at the big schools...but if you can push through the pain on a high school course, then you can surely navigate your way onto a college team!


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