Stay Classy My Friend

After each passing year in high school, as the recruiting cycle progresses, every student athlete needs to take more ownership of the process. Should the significant adults in the life of the athlete completely separate themselves from the process? That answer is obviously NO! However, monitoring the student athlete and taking total control are two entirely different aspects.

Very important—–The choice of the school and the athletic program must be more important for the athlete than the significant adult in the process. A parent should never “force” a school or a program on the athlete. Trust me, it is a recipe for failure. Because a Dad, Mom, or older brother/sister attended the school does not make it a great fit for the current student athlete. At times, it can be a great influencer. At other times the athlete may want to go and “make their own way” at another institution.

For years as I traveled around the country speaking at a myriad of various venues on the recruiting process, I coined a term called “We Dad.” The “We Dad” thought came to my mind after conversing with an overbearing Dad in the process. “We are visiting school X, we are visiting school Y, we are visiting school Z,” and he went on and on. That’s great, but if I may ask where is your son visiting? When that term “WE” arose in the conversation, time and again it was a total red light for me. I won’t go as far as to say all of the “We Dads” were living vicariously through their student athletes, but at times they were.

My joking remark was that if your son was on the kickoff team, he wouldn’t ask you to hop on the line and run down there with him.

Let’s talk about balance here. The answer is communication and constructive thought. After each recruiting phase, after each college contact, the parent and the student athlete need to discuss what each felt and took away from the experience. Make it a give-and-take conversation. Respect each other’s thoughts and attempt to come to a common ground—don’t argue! The parent and the athlete should begin to get a feel for what each other is thinking.

Finally, my last point will be directed toward every significant adult in the student athlete’s life: your son is going to be questioned time and again, not only by coaches but by friends and the media. Make strict rules about the content of his responses and make sure they are respectful to all coaches and schools in the process. As a former recruiter and coach, when I read comments by student athletes like “these are the ten schools that are on my final list,” my feeling upon reading that tells me the message is “I have offers from over ten schools,” and it implies of bringing attention to one’s self. As a coach, I like this better, “I have been fortunate to have had offers from a number of schools. I am working with my family to get the list to a manageable number and then make a rational decision.

Stay classy my friend.