New Avenues for Small Town Athletes

I thought I would share with you an article I wrote the Lewiston Tribune that was published today. Enjoy:

If you are a high school athlete reading this, you live in a small town. It may not be the smallest of towns, but it is a small town nonetheless. Twenty years ago, it would have been extremely tricky for you to get recruited by a college. That is no longer the case.

Recruiting is much different now than it was 20 years ago. Before, it was all on your coach and what he/she could do for you. And, since you are in a small town, a coach would degrade your talent as being just the best of what is available. Sad, but true. With less people, usually comes less talent. That is simple math.

Therefore, the athlete has to prove to the college coach that he/she is not only the best in their small town, but they are also one of the best in the country and that the coach should undoubtedly recruit them for the next level.

Nowadays, with the proper use of technology, athletes can easily expose or “sell” themselves to colleges across the country. No matter if you are from a small town or a big city, the playing field is equal for all athletes on the Web. Technology allows even the smallest-of-town athletes to reach the biggest of city universities – instantly and for free.

Athletes can create a YouTube channel to highlight their games, practices and improvement over their careers. An athlete can create a Facebook and/or Twitter account to get in contact with a coach and send them film.

All of the above is fine and dandy, but if you still aren’t a top-tier athlete you won’t get past hello with the coaches.

Once you have set up your social media outlets to get your recruiting process going in the right direction, you need to let your current coach know that you are serious about playing sports in college. Let them know you have the desire to push yourself to do what it takes to play a sport at the next level. Your coach will also be able to contact coaches on your behalf and give you some insight into the whole recruiting process.

Plus, if you have expressed your desire to the coach and shown you have talent, he/she is undoubtedly going to remember your name if a college comes into their office recruiting another athlete. “Oh yeah, Sally is a great right fielder. You should also check out my pitcher Julie.” Now your name is in the coach’s head. They will ask for film (you will simply send them your YouTube link) and now your recruiting starts to pick up speed.

If you are really serious about your athletic ability, you need to look into a very good personal coach that specializes in your exact talent. A high school coach is good but they have to focus on the whole team and not just one athlete. They will often tend to know a little about a lot, while a specialized coach will know a lot about a little (think one particular position or aspect of the sport). Plus, your personal coach, if he or she has been around the block and has put other athletes into college, will have many contacts as well that can help you out in the recruiting process.

Every college will hold camps during the summer that athletes can attend to learn and prove themselves. These camps are less for learning (too many athletes attending) and are more for tryouts. You do not need to be invited to but it helps if you are so they know who you are going into the camp. You really want to focus on these camps between your junior and senior years. However, I would highly recommend going between sophomore and junior years to get your name in their head and get a trial run of what the camp will entail.

To be invited, simply have your current sports coach contact the school and say they think you should be invited. If your coach isn’t really motivated to help you, contact the school yourself. Give them some simple stats and let them know you are very interested in becoming a _____ (mascot of your choice). You are now in the school’s recruiting database and will now start to receive mail from them on a regular basis. Once you get to the camp, you must dominate.

Remember, an immediate knock on you as an athlete will be that, being from a small town, you aren’t playing against top talent simply because there aren’t as many athletes. Now, at the camp, you will be head-to-head with the actual top talent from all over the country. This is the moment when either you prove you have the ability to be playing with the big dogs or are simply the best of the average.

It is all on your shoulders at this point. Yes, you are an athlete from a small town, but you have set yourself up to be on the big stage.

Do you have the talent to be there?

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