Welcome to the seventh 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: Geographic location.
The question: How do I get recruited if I don’t play in a hotbed region for my sport?
The short answer: Technology.
The actual answer: In 2015, geography is no longer a barrier to getting recruited, because now more than ever, you can easily bring your game right to a college coach via the Internet.
Just because you don’t play in a hotbed region does not disqualify you from being seen. You still have the ability to get game video, create a highlight reel and send that reel to coaches all over the country.
The movie quote that explains current understanding: “Lars, what kind of name is that? Where are you from?”
“Far away.” –Lars, from 1995’s Heavyweights
What the quote says in our context: Lars is a (ultimately) redeemable buffoon in the criminally underrated Judd Apatow film, Heavyweights. As a camp counselor with an accent, the affable 11-year old heroes of the movie ask where he is from originally. His deadpan, evasive answer is simply: Far away.
This quote mapped onto recruiting is simple: Lars, who is not from anywhere near Camp Hope in the film, still got a job as a counselor there. It tells us this: No matter where you are from, you too can get where you want to go.
Geography is no longer the hindrance that it once was in the recruiting process. That is not to say it doesn’t help being from a hotbed – but it simply means that the barriers to being seen by a college coach are not what they once were.
The advice we would provide here is in-line with our advice all of the time: Being proactive will solve a lot of the problems you may encounter in the process.
No matter where you are from, you can be seen by the college coaches of your choosing: You just need to send them an email with all of your relevant academic and athletic information.
This, of course, includes a highlight reel. While the coach may never see you live at a local high school game or event, you can bring your game to them and see if there is a mutual interest.
Taking this one step further, though: A coach will always want to see a student-athlete in person while recruiting them. So, while you have the ability to break down the barriers of location, ultimately you will likely still need to travel to an event or camp the coach will be at.
However, do not just start traveling all over the place! Not all events are created equal, and further, they may not be the right ones for you. Being from an area that may not be close to where you need to go, it’s vital to go into an event knowing coaches will be there to see you. It’s too expensive to just travel and go to an event without a plan, and not worth the time and effort.
If you can’t take advantage of your geographical location, you need to take advantage of your virtual one. Build an online presence where college coaches can find you, see you play, and learn about what makes you an exciting prospect (If you don’t have one, stop what you’re doing and create one right now).
You can use the fact that college coaches can scout you in person to your advantage! If you’re in a hotbed area, a college might see you on a bad day and make a snap decision about you. Bad first impressions are awfully hard to overcome. Technology allows you to present the best parts of who you are – your best plays, your academics and test scores, etc. – without the risk of exposing your weaknesses.”
In this way, being geographically separated a bit can actually work in your favor: It will force you to be more proactive and selective in the events you attend, which can be difficult when things are more accessible.
Ultimately, technology has all but eliminated geographic barriers from being a hindrance in the recruiting process. While they may cause more of a headache in the short term, they actually will force you to be proactive and selective in your process, which can serve you very well down the line.
So, don’t look at where you’re from as anything but a slight obstacle on the way to controlling your own process.