As a high school student athlete, one of the first ways to get on the radar of a college coach in the recruiting process is by sending them a Letter of Interest – or, more aptly titled, an Introductory Email.
The email serves as a starting point of your correspondence with that coach and school, while also highlighting your interest in the program. This is an essential step, as being proactive is the only way to ensure a coach is aware of you and your interest
in their program.
Where to start when writing these notes? While there is no “right” answer, there are some things to be cognizant of when writing.
Here are some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” to consider. While by no means a comprehensive list, using them as guidelines should put you on the right track.
Spell Check Everything, Twice
Spell check and fact check everything. Then, do it again. While this may seem like common sense, the number of instances college coaches have mentioned where spelling or grammatical errors occur would come as a shock to most.
While simple errors may seem trivial, they reflect poorly on a prospective student-athlete’s attention to detail. Spelling a coach’s name wrong, for example, or spelling the name of the school incorrectly, are not positive first impressions.
Include Details About The School Outside of Athletics
Make it a point to note why you are interested in the school off the field – notably academically. Research majors and courses offered, and align them with your areas of interest and potential areas of study.
These points are not something to harp on, but including them will alert a coach that your interest is in the entire school, and not just the athletics program.
Provide Specifics About the Team
Show good knowledge of the team you are interested in, citing recent accomplishments, facility upgrades or other similar information. You want to make it very obvious your interest is real and genuine.
Again, this need not be lengthy, but including them will show a coach you know about the program.
Highlight Your Own Accomplishments Academically and Athletically
It is important to distinguish yourself from other prospective student-athletes by citing your accomplishments. This is not free reign to brag about yourself and ramble on, but, the only way a coach will know about your accomplishments is for you to tell them.
Be sure to note any awards you may have received, positions of leadership you have held and most importantly, how these reflect on your work ethic, passion and dedication.
Awards will not make you successful at the next level, but those underlying qualities that led to them will help.
Include a Link To Your Highlight Reel
Having the coach see you play is one of the main goals of this email. Be sure your highlight video is accessible and easy to find.
Include an Actionable Task
One of the most important aspects of this correspondence is to make sure there is an action point at the end of the email. The action point should be to follow up with a telephone call or to arrange a campus visit.
Something similar to “please let me know about scheduling a campus tour” or “please let me know the best time I can reach you to speak further” will show you are ready to keep the conversation going.
Use a Form Letter
This is an unforgivable offense to many coaches. It is very obvious when a form letter is being used, and it shows you many not actually be interested in a school. It’s fine to have a template, but be sure each note is filled with specialized information that highlights your real interest in a school.
Only Write About Athletics
Athletics will only be part of your collegiate experience, so be sure your interest in a school is not based solely on sports or a particular coach. Remember, it’s more than likely you are not going to be a professional athlete – so make sure the school of your choosing offers programs that fit your interests for post-collegiate life.
Yes, it is important to get your information to the coach, but this is not the time to channel your inner John Steinbeck or William Shakespeare.
Be concise – coaches are busy, and do not have the time to read your autobiography. They will appreciate your brevity.
Include Grammatical or Spelling Errors
Again, this is obvious, and is covered above. However, it is so vital that it is worth repeating. Do not treat this note like Twitter or a text message. Your attention to detail is a reflection on you. Do not send the wrong message about yourself. Use complete sentences, and do not cut corners.
Forget to include your highlight reel
There is a saying in the movie business that you need to show, not tell – and the same applies here. Show the coach you can play!
Simply sending an email without video is purchasing a one-way ticket to Azkaban (ok, it’s not a ticket to a fictitious wizard prizon, but you get the picture). Be sure a coach can match a player to the information!
If a picture is worth a thousands words, then a video is worth a million.
Ultimately, a letter of interest serves as an icebreaker between you and a college coach. Do not stress too much about the notes – just be sure your interest is genuine, and that will reflect in the letter.
Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression!