College Recruiting Corner: Summer Tips for the Prospective Student-Athlete

By: Tom Kovic

7/17/18

Many believe summer is a time where college coaches switch to lower gears. The regular season is complete, and the student-athletes have headed home for a well-deserved break.  Nothing can be further from the truth! Opportunity is eminently knocking, and summertime is a prime season for recruiting. Below are some auxiliary tips prospective student-athletes can consider in an effort to move your college recruiting effort to a higher level.

Peng-Peng Lee trains on the uneven bars/FloGymnastics

Define Goals

Whether you had a magical 2018 season, or one where you hit a brick wall, now is the time to “ferret out” your past season and put it into lucid perspective. The prospective student-athlete that can be honestly introspective in evaluating the past season and pull significant learning points, is well on her way in developing self-awareness and effectively plotting the next target in the college search.

Don't just muddle forward through your summer. Face it as the ultimate challenge in “rising up” to a higher athletic level.  Determine the skill set you want to achieve and ask yourself two questions: 1) Are these aims reasonably within my grasp? and 2) Am I willing to devote myself to that end? Once you have done a fair reality check, clearly identify your summer goals, place them at the vanguard of your priority list and execute.

Team Approach

Include your club and/or high school coach in reviewing your goals and helping you build your plan of attack. This approach shows respect for coach and your willingness to reach to him for advice. Second, it demonstrates a mature approach in utilizing a team effort and in this case, with an individual who wants to help!

Incorporating your coach in the overall plan encourages him to have a vested interest in the final product and with that interest; he becomes a potential key player in the overall recruiting effort. A good college coach will always reach to club coaches for specific information about a potential candidate. Not only are they looking for a snapshot gymnastics analysis, they also want to know about the person, and strength of character he potentially brings to the team.

Updates

Whether you intend to provide the college coaches with your latest SAT score or with an improved look to your progress in the gym, the rule of thumb is to give it “grip." Coaches are simply swamped, and your best strategy is to keep your updates simple and crisp and the college coaches will appreciate the effort.

As soon as you have compiled your academic progress records (past year grades, standardized testing, and academic awards), forward them along in a clean and easy to read format.

Next, recap your past season in a bullet format that includes any significant regular season highlights along with details about your advancement through the championship portion of the season (state, regionals, JO Nationals). Let the coach know where you will be attending camps and showcases and as these events draw nearer, send more descriptive information about each event.

Finally, update your personal profile and highlight video stream and share it with the coaches. Keep it clean and crisp and inform the college coaches that you will continue to keep them posted with significant updates moving through the summer.

Take A Road Trip

A successful college road trip can be your “backstage pass” in the college search and taking unofficial visits to several of your top schools of interest is a great way to get a “look under the hood” to determine if the institution is a potential match.

The campus visit is extremely important and requires careful planning. Coaches are like hot potatoes during the summer and it can be very difficult to track them down without advanced communication. Register for campus tours and information sessions, but you also want to make every attempt to schedule a meeting with coach.

Contact the college coaches two to three weeks prior to your planned trip and determine their schedule and availability to meet. Remember, college coaches are bound to very clear NCAA contact rules and you will need to remain persistent in your effort to contact them. You will be pleasantly surprised with how these campus visits can jump-start your recruiting quest!

Summer vacation provides prospective student-athletes with a break from school and a wonderful time to “lighten the load.” That aside, athletes and families who are willing to use the summer to make proactive efforts in executing key areas of their recruiting plan will position themselves best for personal success in the college recruiting search.

 

Tom Kovic is a former Division I college gymnastics coach and the Founder and Lead Advisor at Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families on college recruiting. For further information visit: www.victoryrecruiting.com

 

Copyright © 2018 Victory Collegiate Consulting. All Rights Reserved

2018 American Classic Recap

By: Jessica Stephans

7/8/2018

The 2018 American Classic featured many of the country’s best athletes returning to the competition floor as well as introducing many new faces to the elite scene. This competition had special importance for the junior and senior elites because it served as a qualifier for the US championships in August, and as most of the gymnasts competing had not yet qualified, their primary goal was to attain the qualifying score.

The junior elite competition was a little unorthodox, as a few of the juniors competed in the later session with their senior teammates while the rest competed in the morning. Kayla DiCello of Hill’s Gymnastics dominated the competition with a huge all-around total of 55.4, also winning both vault and beam. Konnor McClain of Revolution Gymnastics finished second with a 53.95, with her standout event being balance beam, and Skye Blakely of WOGA rounded out the podium with a 53.4.  

The all-around total necessary for junior elites to advance to nationals was a 51.0, and besides the previously mentioned top 3, Olivia Greaves(53.3), Ui Soma(52.5), Aleah Finnegan(52.25), Levi Jung-Ruivivar(52.0), Sydney Morris(51.9), Ciena Alipio(51.3), Karis German(51.2), and Zoe Gravier(51.0), all qualified. Greaves, who trains at MG elite, had a standout bar routine which scored a huge 14.15 to win the event with a score that would have placed her just .1 behind the winning senior.

Senior elite Deanne Soza and her coach Kim Zmeskal pose for a picture before heading into the American Classic

Another junior elite standout, Kaliya Lincoln, had three very solid routines on vault, beam, and floor-which she won with a 13.6- but had a few errors on bars to keep her from reaching the qualifying all-around total. Lincoln and the other juniors who missed qualifying at this meet will have another chance at the US classic later this month, so watch for them to score a 51 or better there to advance to nationals.

The senior elite competition was headlined by 2 time world silver medalist Jade Carey, and the of her bar routine marked the first time she has competed bars in elite, proving that she can be an all-around competitor this season. Carey only competed bars and beam, and she struggled a little on both but as this is the first meet of the season, she has plenty of time to prepare for nationals and the world selection camp. Riley McCusker also returned to competition on bars and beam, and scored very well with a 14.0 on balance beam and a 13.5 on bars even after a fall, reaching the two-event score needed to qualify to nationals. Alyona Shchennikova also competed bars and beam, and she had a few falls but her 13.95 on bars even with a fall proves that she has major scoring potential on the event.  

In the all-around, Shilese Jones of Future Gymnastics Academy took home the title with a 53.9, followed by Shania Adams of Buckeye in second with a 53.25 and Maddie Johnston of Hill’s Gymnastics in third with a 53.25. Jones cruised to the title even with a few struggles on beam, with her standout event being floor where she scored a huge 13.8 to win the event. Besides the top three, Kara Eaker scored a 52.9 to qualify to nationals in the all-around. Eaker posted a 14.85 on balance beam to win the event, a score almost a point higher than second place. Audrey Davis of WOGA qualified on bars and vault, and Madelyn Williams of Hill’s Gymnastics qualified on the three events she competed, led by her huge 14.25 uneven bars score.

The American Classic was streamed live for the first time this year, and it served as a chance for more experienced elite gymnasts to get back out on the competition floor and for newer elites to have another chance to punch their ticket to nationals. The 2018 US Classic will be on July 27-28, and with a stacked roster including Simone Biles, Ragan Smith, and Morgan Hurd, the meet is a must watch.

College Recruiting Corner: The Role of Parents in College Recruiting

By: Tom Kovic

6/27/18

 

The college search for athletes has grown complicated and increasingly competitive, especially during the past ten years. There are countless components that require attention in developing and executing a successful plan of action, along with several “key players” who make-up the team that “run the offense.”

 

Parents can play a significant and active role in the recruiting process that in my opinion, should be supportive, enthusiastic, but “indirect,” especially when it comes to communicating with college coaches.

 

What follows are suggestions on how parents can effectively participate in helping their kids confidently navigate a potentially daunting process, while avoiding red flags along the way.

The Oklahoma Sooners Women’s Gymnastics team’s fans celebrate at the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships/Getty Images

 

Clarity

The best starting point for any dream or goal is to establish clear goals, objectives, and timelines. Begin with the endgame in mind and work backward to the starting point of your plan. Identify tangible college goals and work backward. You will notice “checkpoints” along the way that you will eventually re-encounter as you navigate the college quest from the beginning. Whether it is the signing of the national letter of intent, the official visit, or the first phone call placed to the coach, you will begin to develop a checklist of “things to do.”

 

Parents can help their children to envision the process and take an active role in creating it. Half the battle in reaching any goal is to understand the mission and create an educational, yet fun approach. The more parents encourage their children to take an active role in controlling their destiny and executing the plan, the greater the chance they have in reaching their goals.

 

Team

I am a big believer in the team approach to college athletic recruiting and developing a group of key players who offer significant strength in specific areas of the process. Not only can the team approach be effective, it will most likely be embraced by prospective student-athletes considering this approach spreads recruiting assignments out to the area experts.

 

Parents who have identified and cultivated strong relationships with “typical” team members (college advisor, high school and/or club coach, etc.) can begin to lay the groundwork to offer specific roles that will be played out by each team member. Moms and dads can organize occasional team meetings at the house where the group can review regular progress in the college search and offer suggestions to keep the momentum moving forward.

 

Encourage Independence

Collegiate coaches will turn to high school and club coaches, guidance counselors and colleagues in an effort to gather information about the prospects they recruit, but they need to act as a resource for families as well. They want to be able to field questions from mom and dad, but when you break it down; college coaches want to see the prospect for who he or she truly is.

 

One of the best choices parents can make is to encourage their children to be an active and independent player in the college quest. It drives proactive preparation, the development of communication skills and fosters the courage to step up in a dedicated attempt to own the college recruiting process.

 

What might seem nearly impossible for some prospects, in the beginning, will grow to a more confident approach with practice and experience. Remember, college coaches are looking for 3 key ingredients in a prospect: Strong students, impact athletes and a personal character that demonstrates self-confidence and leadership. We owe our children the opportunity to control their playing field.

 

Communication with College Coaches

I encourage parents to play a very active role in communicating with the college coaches. The final college choice our kids make will be an important one and parents should be there every step of the way.

 

Although it is critical for prospects to assume direct responsibility for most of the communication with college coaches, there are areas of the college search, where parents “have to” be actively involved. Whether it is negotiating financial aid, requesting a preliminary read in admissions or asking questions concerning on-campus safety, parents should not hesitate to respectfully inquire on behalf of their children.

 

Moms and Dads should develop the patience to “yield” in certain areas of the college recruiting process, especially when our kids appear to “stumble.” As excruciating it is to watch our kids struggle or see them at a loss for words, remember that college coaches are not looking at the stumble as much as they are looking for the recovery. We need to have faith in our kids to regroup and move back to center. Prospects will appreciate parents more for allowing them to experience the “good struggle.”

 

Red Flags

There are several “parental red flags” that could go up in the minds of college coaches and below are just a few tips for moms and dads:

 

•        In face to face interviews with college coaches where parents are present, avoid answering questions that are directed to your children.

•        Avoid responding to phone and e-mail messages left by college coaches that are specifically directed to the prospect.

•        When email is used as the primary communication vehicle, parents should review grammar and sentence structure before the final drafts are sent.

•        The “tough” questions should be timed appropriately. You do not want to go into the first meeting with a college coach asking for a scholarship! Remember, this is about developing sincere relationships with the coaches: Plant, cultivate, grow… slow and steady wins the race.

 

As parents, we desperately want out children to succeed and make well thought out choices and the college search should be no different. Many of us though, can’t help ourselves from controlling situations, especially when it appears our kids are struggling. College coaches recruit families as much as they recruit prospects and the adage is true: “The nut doesn’t fall too far from the tree!”

 

Parents can play an impactful role in collegiate recruiting and the best gift we can offer our kids is the freedom to spread their wings and fly. Focus on everything that is positive and fun in the college search and even when it appears our children seem doubtful and frustrated, have the faith in their resiliency to rebound and advance the quest with confidence and self-reliance.

 

Tom Kovic is a former Division 1 college coach and the current director of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families in college recruiting. For further information, visit: www.victoryrecruiting.com.

 

Copyright 2018 Victory Collegiate Consulting


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