I have spent the last few months helping a bunch of teenage girls in our program at GCF with the college recruiting process. Often, when I am trying to relate a point about recruiting, I find myself using dating as a metaphor because really how else do I try and make a point to 16 year old girls (ok they are more well-rounded then that but I like to keep things light with them).
It cracks them up every time, but last night as one of my players gave an excited squeal when one of the college coaches she messaged wrote her back, I couldn’t help but start laughing at how similar the two processes are.
Of course, as I sit and watch the recruiting process for my girls, I also can’t help but reflect on my own process from back in the day, and ride the highs and lows with them.
For me, this scene from the movie Never Been Kissed, sums up my lowest point in the process, when the head coach from Ole Miss came up to Vancouver and wowed a bunch of us Canadian high school girls with pictures and stories from the SEC. He told four of us that he was coming to our houses to make offers after seeing us play.
After bouncing off the wall with excitement the whole night as I was relaying calls from my friends as this coach left their houses, waiting excitedly for his arrival at mine, at midnight, it finally sunk in that he wasn’t coming, without giving a phone call or any reason.
Which obviously led to a sobbing, hysterical mess that felt totally rejected and that her college career was over before it even started (it all worked out in the end). But yes, I related heavily to Drew Barrymore’s character in the above scene, and coincidentally, Like a Prayer that plays in the background as she gets eggs smashed in her face, was also one of my favourite songs at the time.
That all being said, without further ado, let me share with you,
10 Reasons Why College Recruiting is Like Dating
1. You stalk each other on social media before you pursue things and a bad profile can end things before it even starts
In this day and age, it cracks me up in the dating world that we try and play off that we haven’t googled, Facebook, twitter and instagram stalked before we meet someone in person #obviwehave.
Why wouldn’t you when you can get a pretty solid grasp of who people are and how they present themselves on a daily basis before even stepping foot in the same room as them. That being said, it is so important, especially when players are going through the recruiting process to present themselves as the good citizens and professional-acting athletes that they are.
So kids, lay off the f-bombs, don’t brag about the great party that you went to, and go kick a ball around instead of taking and posting a provocative selfie. If you don’t, the consequences can be dire. Because just like dating, the date can be over before it even started if your social media presence isn’t a good one.
2. You fill out endless amount of questionnaires and questions hoping to find a match
Just like online dating (well, ok back in the old pre-tinder era), you have to fill out oodles of questions and profiles, hoping to find a match.
3. You make decisions on if you are interested or not, off of their pictures
When players are sifting through mountains of different schools, pictures and perception play a massive role in players being interested in a school. I laugh at some of the responses that I get from my players when I ask them why schools are on their list.
I know for one, that in my process, a school that ended up being in my top 3, was there solely, because I thought their brochure made the school look super cool. Yes, we as a human race can be superficial. This plays into both dating and college recruiting.
That being said, while superficiality might get you in the door somewhere, :
4. The person you are dating doesn’t want to talk to your parents
Yes, just like you wouldn’t put Mom and Dad on the phone when you are dating someone or have them hovering over your every move at the movie theatre, I try and impress upon my players that college coaches are interested in you, and want to talk to you.
So Mom and Dad, let the kids take responsibility over their experience because nothing can kill a romance faster than parents getting involved in every move.
5. Don’t go for the hot one that everybody is chasing after
Of course when I first get my list of schools from players, many of them have the usual suspects on them, UCLA, Duke, UNC etc.
While these are all fabulous academic institutions and soccer programs, just like that hot person that everyone notices, knows about, and chases after, in the recruiting process your time is better spent trying to find that diamond in the rough. This goes both for college coaches recruiting and players trying to find a school.
And in both cases, although they take a little more effort to find, and maybe even a little risk, they are out there, and chances are your time, effort and attention will go a lot farther with them then it will for the schools or players that everyone and their mother is chasing after.
6. You jump off the walls of excitement when you like someone and they like you back
I watched it first hand last night when one of my players gave an excited squeal and a little dance when a D1 coach that she had written wrote her back. You get excited, you dream about your future together, you feel loved and validated. You are over the moon and life is amazing.
7. You are similarly heartbroken and wonder what you did wrong when they stop calling for no reason
As high as the wave that you ride when you make a connection with someone you really like and they like you back, it’s as devastating when all of a sudden their phone calls and texts start becoming farther spaced apart and more distant in nature. You wonder what you did wrong, and sometimes you’ll even get hopeless and sad, wondering if you’ll ever find a match.
But wait! Before you get into the depths of despair, there is a positive way of looking at this:
8. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince/princess
Back in the day, I was talking to my good friend Mike. He was telling me about his friend Shane who would entertain his group of friends regularly, by having no fear or shame in hitting on every girl that seemed so far out of his league and who didn’t care in the slightest if he got shot down in front of his group of friends. Mike found his lack of care refreshing.
That being said, Mike said that Shane had just gotten engaged to a flight attendant that was similarly out of his league, that he had chatted up, with their entire group of friends laughing behind him on a flight to Hawaii.
Mike’s point? And it relates to recruiting: the ones that are the most successful will aim high, be ok with failing many times before finding a match, and ultimately have better odds of finding someone great, the more they put themselves out there.
9. It feels like a bit of a head game. They tell you everything you want to hear and you wonder if it’s real or if there is an ulterior motive.
For some reason Taylor Swift’s song Shake it Off comes into my head as I try and describe this next point: “Cause the player’s gonna play play play play play”.
Yes just like dating, you always wonder if people are being genuine or if they are saying or doing something with an ulterior motive. For my players, I always encourage them to be honest and tell them that any coach that is a good person and the kind of person they would want to play for, would appreciate someone who is straight up and honest in every situation.
Similarly, just last night a player of mine was telling me about a coach that was promising her a good chance of starting, and in my opinion telling her everything that she wanted to hear in order to get her to commit, while she was leaning away from the school that was being more honest in their assessment. For both coaches and players it is a good idea to talk to people that have experience with the person who you are trying to gauge the sincerity of, as too many people will tell us exactly what we want to hear in order for us to choose to walk through their door.
10. Always choose the option that is going to challenge you and make you a better person
We get one opportunity to live on this earth. Whenever I am trying to make a decision, I think about what would make me happier and feel more fulfilled in twenty years, and I always go that direction.
When I got to the end of my recruiting journey, I chose Yale and it’s stressful financial aid situation, over a full scholarship to two schools, mostly because I am a bit of a masochist, kidding, but mostly because I thought it would be the place that would challenge me in all capacities as a person and player, which it did.
As I tell my players, the safe option will always be there. Follow your opportunities and choose them based on what takes you out of your comfort zone and pushes you into a realm that makes you strive to be your best self and what you’ll feel proud of accomplishing long after you put your boots away for the last time.
Want to tell me about all the frogs you’ve kissed? Find me on twitter @ciaramccormack