Yesterday was the National Letter of Intent Signing day for gymnasts headed off to college in 2017.
The college recruiting process is confusing and ever changing. It starts earlier and earlier every year. The top schools in the country have already received commitments from gymnasts currently in their FRESHMAN YEAR of high school.
Here is hopefully some useful information to help you with the process.
Laying the groundwork for a successful college recruiting effort is essential and developing operatives that will help you pinpoint important targets along the way is crucial to the momentum you build.
I think that the first thing a gymnast needs to do is find a school that is the correct fit academically. I tell gymnasts that they are 1 bad landing away from being stuck at a school that isn’t the correct fit.
Notes from a webinar by Tom Kovic
Building a college recruiting information base should begin as early as the ninth grade as a family hobby and increasingly grow into a highly organized, disciplined project moving through the senior year. Develop an awareness of college recruiting procedures by accessing the Guide for the College Bound Student-Athlete (www.ncaa.org). This is a great resource that will give you a clear snapshot of recruiting rules and eligibility.
Look carefully at the quality of education different colleges and universities offer. US News and World Report is a great resource that annually ranks college institutions. You want to strive to make “impact” with the college athletic experience, but always remember that the academic piece will last a lifetime.
Geographic Location of a college or university, despite the quality of the academic experience of sports program, plays its part as well. You need to determine your comfort level as to how far you are willing to travel from home to enjoy a productive college experience.
Imagine committing to your top college choice that also happens to be on the other side of the country. It may be exciting at first, but unless you have an adaptive nature that can blend easily with new environments, you may experience turbulence or home sickness.
Determine early on in the recruiting process the level of support you can expect when transitioning from high school to college. Trust me, first semester freshman year will likely be your most challenging!
Not only do you want to align with a college because of the academic and athletic opportunities it offers, you want to get a feel for the general social flavor the institution extends.
This is where you reach to your common sense when speaking with coaches, student-athletes and alumni. Ask pertinent questions about their experiences as part of the institution and the community and listen carefully to the replies. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions that will assist you in determining the general cultural tone of the institution.
Keeping It Real
Spend sometime on YOUTUBE.
How does your current skill level compare to the teams you would like to compete for?
Keep in mind that gymnastics is a dynamic sport. You are getting better or you are getting worse. There is no such thing as staying the same. A school that finished middle of the pack may have a great recruiting year and their current gymnasts may have a great off season. A team that is at the TOP could be plagued by injuries and drop.
Take time to investigate team statistics and rankings, along with coach profiles and mission statements in an effort to “match” with college sports programs. Your coaches here at Atlantic will do our best to offer a fair and realistic athletic skill evaluation to help you establish your current point of reference as a prospect and identify clear targets to reach your ultimate goal.
If you are a blue chip prospect you will probably not have many hurdles to cross in the recruiting process. Conversely, if you are a 2nd tier prospect, you will likely be grouped into a larger and more competitive file of prospects. You will simply need to work harder, prepare better and execute your recruiting effort with more passion if you want to leap ahead of the pack.
Then take a look at the schools gymnastics program. Where do they ranked nationally?
NCAA Rankings based on last years scores.
Now that you have done your homework and have a set of realistic schools (and a couple “dream” schools) with gymnastics programs you need to market yourself.
Things each gymnast must have
– Their own youtube channel. What should go on it?
- A full routine at each event in the gym and in competition.
- Any New skills
– A carefully monitored social media presence. EVERY YEAR a number of prospective student athletes lose their scholarship offer based on what is posted on their social media.
You need to begin to get in contact with college coaches. Every coaches e-mail is on their website. Send them an e-mail. Introduce your self and ask for information on their program.
Things to make sure are included.
- NAME (college coaches tell me ALL the time about how many gymnasts forget this)
- Age, year in school/ graduation year
- Current competition level
- Skills per event
- Class rank/ GPA
- YOUR YOUTUBE CHANEL
- What make’s you desirable/ different from others?
THEN YOU NEED TO TELL THE COACHES AT THE GYM WHO YOU HAVE BEEN IN CONTACT WITH SO THAT WE CAN FOLLOW UP.
After your initial contact with coaches you may want to visit the campus or go to a colleges summer gymnastics camp or to watch them compete.