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Achieving Success in College Recruiting – a “How To” Series of Articles-Recruiting “How To” Guide Sheet #5 ATHLETIC PROFILE and COVER LETTER

Achieving Success in College Recruiting

Recruiting “How To” Guide Sheet #5:
ATHLETIC PROFILE and COVER LETTER
Submitted by:  David Stoeckel, College Recruiting Group (Laguna Hills, CA)

 

INTRODUCTION

In our “How To” Guide Sheet #4, we discussed, in depth, how to identify all of the colleges that sponsor soccer programs as well as how to find the names, addresses, telephone numbers, emails and other pertinent information about these coaches at the institutions which you feel are a realistic match for you.

Now, the question that arises is:  WHAT exactly DO I SEND to all of these college coaches to convince them to start to actively recruit me? This “How To” Guide Sheet will explain exactly what you need to send to these recruiters, as well as what you do NOT want to send to the colleges!

First, you want to put together a quality cover letter and Athletic Profile to send to the coaches.  This is very similar to the process that you will, at some point, go through when you are applying for a job.  In this case, you are applying for a “job” as a college soccer player.  This “job” may offer you the opportunity to (1) play soccer, the sport that you love, for four years, as well as (2) provide you with a four-year college education to prepare you for a career for the rest of your life! And, maybe, (3) pay for some, or all, of the benefits received in (1) and (2).  Not a bad deal, huh?

Your Profile and cover letter should be brief and to the point.  They should only contain the most pertinent information that a college coach needs to decide whether or not to pursue you as a realistic Prospective Recruit.  With that said, let’s move on to the details.

First of all, for every communication that you have with a college coach, ALWAYS preface it with the following pieces of information: your Name, Class of 20XX, Position, Email address and Telephone number.         STOP!!    Yes, YOU . . . . . STOP!       Do not read any further until you have written down these Five (5) items of information that you are going to include in all of your communications with college coaches.  Memorize them; they should be permanently etched in your brain!

We don’t want to over-emphasize this point, BUT, over the past 20 years, we have witnessed a countless number of athletes who have lost recruiting opportunities due simply to the fact that a college coach did not know what position they played, when they were graduating, or other similar omissions of basic factual data.  For some athletes, this probably cost them athletic scholarships worth $100,000, or more!  So, now do you understand why we place such a high degree of importance on something as simple and basic as these “Big 5 ID Facts”?

COVER LETTER

The Cover Letter should be very brief, and never longer than one page.  It should only include a limited amount of pertinent information.  And, be aware of the fact that many coaches, with their very busy schedules, may not even read your cover letter, but go straight to your Athletic Profile.  And, most of them will send back to you a “Form Letter” email asking you to complete their online “Prospective Recruit Questionnaire”, which asks for the same information that you just gave them on your Profile; the only difference is that it is in their format.

With the foregoing caveats in mind, go ahead and prepare your Cover Letter. Keep in mind the following suggestions:

  • One page maximum
  • Subject Line:  Recruiting – Class of 20XX – Position
  • Substance of Letter:
    • Identify your grade and high school you attend
    • Your years of soccer experience
    • Refer to attached Athletic Profile
    • Refer to preparation of recruiting video
    • Identify major upcoming tournaments
    • “Thank You” for your time and consideration

Obviously, you want to personalize your Introductory Letter as much as possible; however, you are sending this letter to quite a few schools, so this cover letter is usually going to be somewhat standardized since many of the coaches will not spend a lot of time reading it.  Note: If you have some major upcoming tournaments, or if you have a recruiting video available now or in the near future, or if you’ve excelled in something during your high school career (e.g., 2100 or above on the SAT), or have been named to an All-State team, or other similar recognition, then put that information in bold print in your letter and it may catch the eye of some of the coaches reading your correspondence.

If you would like a sample copy of a suggested format for a cover letter, please contact us and we would be glad to send you a “Sample Letter”.  Just send us an email at david@PlayCollegeSports.com and mention that you have read our article in the Recruiting “How To” Guide Sheet #5 at www.90Strong.com and would like a copy of our Sample Cover Letter.  Provide your name and email address where you would like it to be sent and we will reply promptly.

ATHLETIC PROFILE

Your Athletic Profile is the most valuable and vital document that you can have at this stage in your recruiting experience.  It must be done correctly!  On a single page, you are trying to convince a college coach, who has never met you, has not seen you play, knows nothing whatsoever about you, that maybe, just maybe, YOU could contribute to the future success of his/her team.

There have to be some elements of information in your Profile that will make you stand out from all of the other prospective recruits, and motivate that coach to respond to your Introductory Letter.  THAT is the primary purpose of your Athletic Profile . . . to catch their attention and persuade them to respond.

This is why you don’t want to just go directly to a college’s soccer website and immediately fill out their online questionnaire . . . it may not ask, or provide space for you to announce, describe, and promote your unique skills or other attributes that could be valuable to their specific program.  Likewise, for the high school athletes who decide to enroll in one of the numerous online services, where sometimes a lot of the communications are between your laptop and their mega-computer, there is no room on their standardized forms for your “originality”; plus the fact that you are just one of several hundred, or several thousand, high school athletes whose Profiles are being sent, en masse, to hundreds of colleges.  These procedures tend to lose the “personal touch” in communications between athletes and college recruiters.  Nevertheless, if you are more limited on time than on money, you might want to give this approach a try.  And, we certainly do not want to imply that all “Computer Recruiting Services” have a total lack of personal contact or are nonproductive; we advise that you look at and carefully examine your potential recruiting assistance resources very carefully.

During the past 22 years in this business, our goal and game plan have always been to take a very personalized approach when working with you (the athlete) and your family to identify and get you recruited, not just by “any college that wants you”, but by a school where YOU will: (1) get the very best possible education, (2) have a rewarding athletic experience, and, (3) attend a college which, for you, provides a “comfortable campus environment” where you can grow and mature as an individual.

Now, back to the details of your Athletic Profile.  As we advised previously, put it all on one page.  Next, divide your Profile into three sections:  (1) Personal Information, (2) Academic Facts, and (3) Athletic Experience.

PERSONAL INFORMATION

Having the proper information in the heading of your Profile is crucial. We have seen many Profiles prepared by athletes where they fail to mention their graduation year, or their position, or which sport they play!  Sometimes, this information is eventually found in the middle of page two or three!  College coaches do not have the time to go on a massive scavenger hunt to find out what your position is or which recruiting class you are from; instead, they will just quickly delete your Introductory Letter from their computer.

So, at the top of your Profile, as a heading, in bold letters, be sure to include:  your name, sport, position and Class of 20XX.  In this “Personal Information” section of the Profile, beneath the heading, also include: your street mailing address, phone, email, parents’ names/occupations, your age and date of birth, and your personal statistics – height, weight, and right/left footed.

ACADEMICS

In this portion, all you need to include is the name and address of your high school, graduation date (month/year), GPA, SAT and/or ACT scores, and, possibly your class rank.  Remember, this Profile is going to the soccer coach, not to the Admissions Office.  Although you may have been involved in a variety of impressive activities, done lots of charitable work, been active in your school band or your church choir, or received honors and recognition for various achievements, these activities are probably not going to make you a more proficient soccer player.  Agree?  Thus, omit them for right now.

Once a college coach has evaluated your soccer skills, along with your work ethic, coachability, leadership skills, team player attributes, and other related factors, and has included you on his “A” List of top prospective recruits, then that is the time when he wants to get to know more about you as a person and other activities you are involved in, other than soccer and school.  At this point it is appropriate to share other activities, achievements, and honors.

ATHLETICS

This third section of your Profile will probably have the greatest impact on the coach in regard to him responding to your Introductory Letter.  Here, you want to summarize, very briefly, your high school and club soccer experiences, as well as any private training, soccer camps, or clinics that you have attended. 

For each of your current teams, list your position(s), uniform colors and number, coach’s name, telephone and email address, and any recent honors that you or your team have earned.  Be sure to keep your facts “current”.  If you are presently a high school junior, do not list honors that you received back in 6th or7th grade.  They are not pertinent.  Likewise, if you have been a heavily-recognized athlete in the past year or two, be selective about which honors you list on your profile.  For example, if you were named to the All State team as well as All County, All City, All League, and Team MVP, only list the one or two most prestigious honors.  College coaches will realize that if you achieved All State recognition, then you most likely made All City, All League, and MVP of your team.  To list them all only serves to dilute the impact of your achievements for the reader of your Profile.

Finally, you want to insert a brief paragraph at the end of your Profile with “Coach/Evaluator Comments”.  This section is just eight or nine sentences long, at the most, and it allows one of your coaches, or your private trainer, to describe to the college recruiters your strongest skills and attributes as a soccer player that are not covered by standard objective terms such as height, weight, position, GPA, and so forth.  Here, your coach can elaborate on your leadership and motivational skills, your ability to excel under pressure, your contagious enthusiasm during competitions, your perceptive mental game, or other sports-specific skills at which you excel.

Once you have drafted your Athletic Profile and proofread it very carefully for accuracy and content, as well as spelling and grammar, you are now ready to move forward and “Introduce Yourself to the Coaches of America”!  As we discussed in one of our prior Guide Sheets, you can either email the letters to the coaches or send them by USPS.  Either method is fine; some coaches prefer email, some like a paper copy.

In Guide Sheet #4, we discussed how many colleges you should select and how to pick them.  Of course, if you are a senior in high school, you may wish to increase the number of Introductory Letters that you send.  You also learned what to expect as far as an average number of responses from coaches.

Your next question should be “WHEN should I send my Introductory Letters to the coaches”?  Actually, it may be easier to describe times when you should NOT try to communicate with the college coaches.  College soccer, as you know, is a fall season sport.  And, although specific dates vary by division, teams generally start their preseason training in August; and pre-season games are usually in August and September.  These are NOT good times to try to get the coaches’ attention.  Their focus, during most of their waking hours, is concentrated on their team and working with them to have the most successful season possible.  During late September, October and November, the teams will be “in season” and classes will be in session.  The players will frequently take their classes in the AM hours (so that they are all available to practice, together, in the afternoon); thus, the coaches may have time to be in their offices in the morning and can do some communicating with their prospective recruits during this time.

Obviously, you don’t want to send out a lot of emails or letters to coaches during the holidays in December and through January 1, unless you are sending holiday greeting cards to them.  This can be a good thing to do, especially with those coaches with whom you have established communications.

A great time to communicate with the college coaches is right after New Year’s Day . . . old and new!  Their season is over and they are now primarily focusing on RECRUITING.  Do not miss this opportunity!

If you would like a sample Athletic Profile format, please send an email to david@PlayCollegeSports.com stating that you have read the article in our Recruiting “How To” Guide Sheet #5 at www.90Strong.com and would like a copy of our Sample Athletic Profile.  Provide your name and the email address where you would like it to be sent and we will reply promptly.

In Recruiting “How To” Guide Sheet #6, we will discuss the single “Most Valuable Recruiting Tool” that you can have.  If done properly, it can have a tremendous positive impact on the options available to you as well as the overall success of your recruiting experience.  If you have been reading our prior Guide Sheets, AND if you have followed all of the steps discussed, then you will want to immediately proceed to start working on this next phase; otherwise, your whole recruiting experience may come to a huge screeching stop!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

We have had a number of inquiries asking WHO is writing all of the information being discussed in these Guide Sheets?  In response, here’s a quick recap:

David Stoeckel is an Independent Educational Consultant, based in Southern California, specializing solely in working with college-bound student-athletes.  In 1992, he founded the College Recruiting Group (CRG) to provide a highly-personalized service to guide high-school-age athletes through their college recruitment activities.  For the past 22 years, David has spent a significant amount of time working with individual families to provide one-on-one guidance to their athlete, in any and all sports, with the goal to optimize their opportunities for having a successful college recruiting experience.  As an integral part of this service, CRG also produces professional quality videos of the athletes for them to make available to the college coaches.

David Stoeckel has also authored various recruiting publications and articles as well as presents complimentary Recruiting Seminars to high schools and club teams throughout the nation for the benefit of players, parents, coaches, and counselors.

If you have any questions for David, or desire further information regarding the availability of his services, please feel free to contact him at david@PlayCollegeSports.com.

HOST YOUR OWN “COLLEGE RECRUITING SEMINAR” – FREE!!

Every year we make available, to a limited number of high schools and club/travel teams throughout Southern California, a FREE College Recruiting Information Workshop for athletes, parents, coaches, college counselors, and anyone else wanting to learn more about this topic.  The organization hosting the workshop only needs to provide a facility for the event, publicize the presentation (to ensure a minimum number of attendees), and have a few people available to distribute handouts (which we produce).

If your high school or club team is interested in sponsoring one of these workshops, please contact us at your earliest convenience to reserve a date.  We can be reached at david@PlayCollegeSports.com.

QUESTIONS?

If you have questions about any of the topics or material covered in this or any prior Guide Sheet, please feel free to email them to us.  Likewise, if you have any general comments about our articles or have suggestions that may make this series more informative and valuable to future college-bound student-athletes, we would welcome those messages, too.  We will then select a few questions or comments that we feel would be of general interest to the greatest number of our readers and provide answers in a future edition of our Guide Sheets.  Your messages can be emailed to david@PlayCollegeSports.com.

Good luck with your recruiting experience.

David Stoeckel
President
College Recruiting Group
Laguna Hills, CA
949.830.5735

 

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