Email or Letter?
Which Is Best For the First Contact?
by: Bob Howdeshell
High School Baseball Web
Let me first preface this article by saying that this "survey" is
far from being accurate. It is more just a "flavor" of the definitive
answer to the question:
Which is the best resource to use when making the first contact with
a college coach -- Email or a personal letter?
Since the focus of the message board question was about the use of
email I decided to test the question by using "email."
I sent 247 email requests to college coaches all over the
country. The list includes every "Top 40" NCAA D1 program, smaller
D1's, D2 and D3 schools, NAIA and Junior Colleges.
I allowed 10 calendar days for all the responses to come back. I
tried to make the question easy to answer, requesting only a simple
choice of three responses.
The choices were: Email or Letter or Does Not Matter
My email box was flooded with a grand total of 34 responses!
I know this is the busiest time of the year for a college coach, but
I do feel that the lack of response is also an indicator of the
"success" a player might have when using email.
The response totals were as follows:
- Email - 8
- Letter - 14
- Does Not Matter - 12
I promised the coaches anonymity in exchange for any comments they
might have. Here are a few of the responses:
- I learned a phrase a long time ago in college, our athletic
director made a statement in class:
-FACE TO FACE IS BEST
-PHONE CALL NEXT
-PERSONAL LETTER IS NEXT
but that was before computers ... kids no days send in videos and
cd's ... but it is always better to see a player live!
- Does not matter. Better for player to have his HS or JC coach
call for him.
- The best way for initial contact from an interested player is
a letter with some information about the player.
- We like to see a letter and a video tape of the young man that
the coach is talking about. The letter should include his baseball
statistics and academic information. We need to see his class rank,
ACT/SAT score and his GPA. The video can be homemade and should show
the young man in all the baseball skills. By using these two things we
can decide what to do from there.
- Bob - I know you wanted a one-word answer, but I wanted to add
my thoughts as well. A personal letter shows more sincere interest.
Think about it,you would not want to write 40 or so letters, so the
schools you are REALLY interested in would get a hand-written note.
The quality of the penmanship is not important. However, spelling and
punctuation are very important. After all, the young man is attempting
to "sell" himself to a college or university - an educational
As for e-mail, that is fine, but, again, you can e-mail multiple
schools. The personal note indicates a higher degree of interest,
in my opinion.
- I receive many of both letters and e-mails from prospective
baseball players. It is impossible to respond to all of them. I read
all of them. It is more convenient with e-mails. I print a copy and
turn it over to our recruiting coordinator. Answer-----E-Mails
- A letter is probably better. We do receive alot of email too.
- We prefer letters, feeling it is less personal when the kid may
not be in our plans. Email can sometimes be problematic if the kid
doesn't hear what he wants to from us.
- Either is the same for us. We answer each with a response.
Email is less expensive and will likely be our choice in the future,
but for now, either way is acceptable. I would guess that some aren't
able to respond to each regular mail letter they get because of expense
of return mail.
- For us either is fine as we work hard under Coach to check every
lead out though a follow up phone call is key, I think it is also good
to have a player and coach both make a follow up call a school than
still might not want you but they will know about you and that's all
you can do.
- At our school we like a short letter to the recruiting coordinator,
with a short video tape if available ( especially if prospect is from
far away )....
Don't need an MTV production....just ten swings, some ground or
fly balls, game footage of a ground out to shortstop where the camera
follows the hitter from home to first ( we can time him )...pitchers
in the pen, some wind up, some stretch, fastballs and secondary
pitch....put the camera behind the catcher so we can see arm action,
movement and location.
Again, no more than 5-7 minutes no matter what position the guy
plays.... their goal is to get on the list, and have someone come
see them if possible...freshmen, soph, and jrs. should inquire about
summer camps to get 4 or 5 days of quality "LOOK".
Okay --- Like I said at the start of this piece, this survey is far
from "scientific" or for that matter accurate. It does give everyone
an idea of the way college coaches feel about email and first contact.
Email is here to stay and will be the preferred means of recruiting
contact in the next few years, I'm just not sure that it is here yet.
If it were me and I wanted to make sure that a college knew of my
interest in them I would sit down and hand write a good old fashioned
letter. And then follow it up with a phone call.