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When You Get A Letter
From a College Coach

by: Bob Howdeshell
High School Baseball Web

When a high school student-athlete receives his first letter, from a college coach, it is an exciting day. I can remember each of the first letters that my son's received. The schools and coaches that are "first" always have a special place in a person's memories, whether that school or coach continues to recruit the player or not.

Does a letter from a college coach mean that the high school player is being "recruited" by the particular school? As we have stated many times on this website .... The answer is no, it does not mean that the player is being recruited. This is true in the thought process of college coaches, as well as the NCAA. The NCAA describes "being recruited" as .... Recruited Prospective Student-Athlete Actions by staff members or athletics representatives that cause a prospective student-athlete to become a recruited p rospective student-athlete at that institution are:

  1. Providing the prospect with an official visit;
  2. Having an arranged, in-person, off-campus encounter with the prospect or the prospect's parent(s), relatives or legal guardian(s);
  3. Initiating or arranging a telephone contact with the prospect, the prospect's relatives or legal guardian(s) on more than one occasion for the purpose of recruitment

However a first letter is a step in the overall process.

NCAA college coaches can send out their first contact letters starting in September of a player's junior year, of high school. Many times the initial contact letters are nothing more than a form letter, sent to perhaps as many as 1,000 prospective student-athletes.

Yes you read the last statement correctly, some major NCAA DI programs will send out letters to as many as 1,000 players. Other schools may only send out 100-200 letters, and of course some do not send out letters, even if they are contacted by the player first.

Here are several things to remember when receiving contact letters:

  • If you do not respond to a contact letter and/or send back the recruiting questionnaire that typically comes along with the letter, you may have received the only contact that you will ever have with that school.

    Why? Many college recruiters keep track of the letters sent (by use of lists) if you return their questionnaire that indicates that there is some level of interest, in his program. Some programs even write a code on the questionnaire. This code may indicate the date or "batch" that the questionnaire was sent in. Slow response is many times perceived as a lukewarm feeling abount a program.

  • Because a player receives correspondence, on a regular basis, from a college baseball program, does not mean that he will receive a telephone call when July 1st (between his junior and senior year) rolls around. I can remember one school that sent my son more than 75 pieces of correspondence (letters, newspaper clippings, questionnaires, media guides, pocket schedules, hand-written post cards). And he never received even one telephone call from that program.

  • It is important to respond to all correspondence and complete and send back every questionnaire that you receive, even if the school is not one that you are interested in. Why? College coaches, especially young agressive coaches do change jobs. What if small school XYZ had sent you some information and a questionnaire, and you threw it away, because your "talents are better than that program" (your opinion). Then the coach at XYZ gets the recruiting coordinator's position at "big time" program ABC ....... How interested do you think he will be in your recruitment?

  • One problem that I hear about frequently is that the player and his family get their portion of a questionnaire completed right away and then the high school coach either takes forever to fill in the "coach's comments" portion or he doesn't complete it at all. Here are a few suggestions to help help with this issue:

    Fill out all the player/family information and then make a copy of the entire questionnaire, actually you should make two copies (more on that later in this article) send the original questionnaire back to the baseball office, as soon as possible, attach a short note explaining that you have made a copy of the questionnaire for your high school coach to complete and that his comments will be sent back separately.

    When you give the high school coach a copy of the questionnaire explain to him the note that was sent back with the original copy of the questionnaire. Provide the coach with a #10 sized envelope, proper postage affixed and the mailing address information already neatly written or typed on it. This eases the strain on the coach with regards to postage and envelope costs, if the high school does not pay for these items.

    This way even if the high school coach never returns his portion of the questionnaire the player has been responsive, which shows interest and enthusiasm about a particular program. College coaches understand that some high school coaches are better than others about returning requests for information.

  • Now the answer to "why make two copies of the questionnaire?"
    The second copy is for the files that you are going to keep on each school. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that it gives you an easy way to keep track of information sent by each program. Much better than the old "stack and pile method."

    The second reason is that as you compile the information, by school, you are making a great scrapbook(s). I know that is the parent in me talking, but I have watched my guys go back through our books and thoroughly enjoy themselves!

    I usually suggest using large three-ring notebook binders for your project. You can make index tabs for each school and then either punch holes or place the letters, etc. in the plastic sheet protector type pages. Either way your information will be neatly organized and readily available for review during the recruiting process, or for a lifetime of memories later on.

Finally -- It is important to keep a student-athlete's enthusiasm balanced and to help them understand that receiving a letter, from any college, is only a first step in a long roller coaster ride, called college baseball recruiting. It is important to remind them how special it is to receive even one letter, from just one college. Remember that only one in every ten high school baseball players go on to play in college.

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