Open-Minded, Honest & Realistic

When looking at colleges 30 years ago, I was all set to go to attend a particular university and play. When I visited my school of choice, it was spring break and no students were around. I was however able to meet the coach and was offered a spot on the team, even though he hadn’t even seen me play … things were WAY different back then. I didn’t have a lot of options, they had my major, it was a nice place and the team was good, so I decided to go there. I hadn’t met any of the team or students for that fact.

In June after my senior year, I went to orientation at that university to register for classes. I wasn’t fitting in with the team or students like I thought I would. Afterwards, I got in the car to head back with my parents, who loved the parent orientation by the way, and they said, “We loved it, what did you think?” I told them my real feelings and that I did not enjoy the few days I was there and something wasn’t right. They could have been mad or said give it a chance, but instead, they said it’s not too late to explore other options.

That night when I got home I called a coach at another school, Loras College, and told him I was interested and he told me I would have a roster spot, again totally different now.

Loras ticked a lot of boxes, but I had not previously considered it or even really heard of it. I went on a visit that next week and found a home. I loved it. I had a great four years on and off the pitch. I would later meet my wife there and eventually got my start in coaching. A year after graduating, I was hired as the head coach and went on to coach 23 seasons as the men’s head coach and 17 as the women’s head coach.

I tell you all of this as a reminder to have priorities when you are looking at your college options. Everyone has different priorities and abilities that can dictate what doors open and what doors close and if I am being honest, some of it is chance, such as right place, right time. For example, you happen to play in front of a coach the day they realize they need a player like you because a current player on their team failed out of school. Believe me, it happens. Additionally, who you meet and how you relate to them on a visit or your orientation can have an impact as well.

As the school year ends, you may be starting to think of college recruiting what you want in a college. No matter your level of play, there are going to be ebbs and flows to this process. Just like what happened to me, doors open and close all the time and it is okay to pivot at times based on the options available, situations and your priorities and needs. There are so many things to think about and having a recruiting game plan is key. A good game plan allows you to explore many options, but is also realistic, open-minded, flexible and honest.

Open-Minded: You need to be willing to listen to any and every coach that might be interested. Do not cast anyone off too early, I encourage you to hear everyone out at the start before you narrow things down.

Be Flexible: You need to be willing to pivot and look at ideas outside your comfort zone or beyond what you thought college looked like for you.

Be Honest: Know where you’re at academically, athletically and financially. Think about where you fit, what is real, what is a stretch and what is a fantasy.

If a college program is above your athletic level, you may be wasting your time. The same goes for academics and financial feasibility. If you can’t get accepted to a college or can’t afford it, you most likely can’t go there.
It is okay to seek “stretch” opportunities, but you need to be honest with yourself.

Remember that college coaches hear from and watch thousands of prospects play every summer. It’s important to identify how you can get to the front of the line at your list of colleges.

The clients I work with in the class of 2022 are moving on and are landing at schools of all divisions, ranging from Division I to junior college, all over the country. I am so excited to follow their journeys that will be kicking off in just a few short months.

They have shared that working with TSA Recruiting has helped bring focus and clarity to the process, not only for them, but for their families. We’ve helped save them money on financial aid packages and narrow down their list to find the best fit.

With nearly 25 years experience as a college head coach, I leverage the connections I’ve built to help my clients find the best opportunities for their future. Many of those prospects came to me initially with an idea about the college and left with a totally different thought and commitment.

I like to remind my clients, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” I experienced this first-hand with my own college search experience.

I’ve heard from clients before their fears of using a service like mine and wondering if it’s worth it for them. I compare what I do with TSA Recruiting to buying a home without a realtor. Sure you could do it yourself, but for most people, you don’t know enough about it to comfortably purchase a home on your own. The investment of hiring a realtor allows you to be confident that you’re getting the best home for the best price, in the right location with the right features. The same goes for your recruiting. You want to find a college where you can maximize your potential on the field and in the classroom, while maximizing the total value that you’ll receive.