Kevin_OSheaWelcome to the sixth installment of our weekly column, “Too Embarrassed to Ask,” where we’ll examine a hot topic from the world of recruiting that parents and student-athletes may want to know more about, but may shy away from asking because it is considered assumed knowledge.

Think of this column like a cheat sheet for those instances it is no longer acceptable to ask a question, say, having met someone three times but still not knowing their name.

This week’s issue: College coaches at events.

The question: I know an event from my perspective, but what about a college coach? What does the other side of the coin look like?

The short answer: They are going to events to see players they already know about, but want to see in person. Everything else is a bonus.

The actual answer: Technology has allowed a student-athlete the ability to email a college coach before an event even occurs. With this email comes grades and a highlight reel, meaning a college coach is going into an event with a list of players they already want to see.

Thus, the days of a college coach showing up with a book, recruiting players on the spot and the student-athlete signing soon thereafter are long gone. Of course, this still occurs, but it is increasingly the exception, and not the rule.

With the amount and size of events, it has become a near impossibility for a college coach to see every game. Instead, they will go in with a plan to watch the games the players they are interested in are playing in.

If you are not on their list, or not lucky enough to also be in that game at that time, it’s likely you are not getting a great look.

The movie quote that explains the current understanding: “Come on people, show me somethin’!.” –Coach Kevin O’Shea from 1994’s Little Giants

What the quote says in our context: Coach O’Shea, a gum chomping ego-maniac played with brilliance by Ed O’Neil, screams this at pee-wee football hopefuls at the tryouts for Urbania, Ohio’s Pop Warner football team.

This quote mapped onto our experience is telling. For one, in today’s recruiting world, often this isn’t happening as it did then. A coach isn’t showing up to an event, and just hoping to be blown away by the players on the field they have never seen.

On the other hand, it also can serve as a prescient piece of advice: The process is the same, but the time to first “show a coach something” is not at the event, but instead by sending them academic information and your highlight reel to ensure you are on their list to be seen.

Our Advice

This concept is one that we feel very strongly about. Simply put, showing up to a recruiting event and hoping to be seen is not a good strategy. Sure, it’s possible. But you’re letting the odds stack against you. It’s possible that I win the Mega Millions jackpot this week. But I’m happy I have a job just in case that doesn’t work out.

The reason this issue is particularly frustrating is because it does not have to happen this way! Inherently, by showing up to an event with no prep work into who is there to see you, the process has become reactive. You hope a coach reacts to what they see, and you’ll be recruited.

The issues with this line of thinking are numerous. The biggest is also the most overlooked: Because a college coach is present does not mean they saw you play at all. They may be on another field. They may be looking down at their notes. They may have gone on a coffee break. The list goes on.

Instead, it’s vital to be proactive. Stack the deck in your favor by letting a coach know you are interested in their school. Show them your highlight reel before the event. Share your transcript so they know if you are an academic fit. Get on their list before the event even begins so they are looking for you – not the other way around.

Coaches want events to be efficient. They are attending many of them throughout the year, and have busy schedules around them. They are no longer going to sit there all day and just hope to be blown away like Coach O’Shea. They know what positions they are looking for. They have a list of players they want to see. The key is to ensure you are on that list!

Being proactive allows an event to be as productive as possible for you. You know who will be there to see you play, and the coaches in attendance list is no longer gospel to you – it’s a nice indicator of who was there, and may have seen you play in addition to those you know did.


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