Sometimes, college recruiting turns into a non-stop whirlwind of phone calls, letters and fighting to get commitments from recruits. That’s true in D1 football or NAIA soccer.
Likewise, a lot of coaches get bogged down in the details of recruiting. Those phone calls, letters and fighting to get commitments often result in lists, contact tracking…all of the stuff that takes a toll on giving your recruits that personal touch they crave.
That toll can also result in the loss of key recruits. Especially the ones that have a number of schools pursuing them…how do they choose between the offers? More often than not, it comes down to a “personal connection” they feel with a coach at a certain school.
One great example of a coach who has the “personal connections” thing down cold is Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer. Coach Beamer has to compete with other ACC powerhouse programs like Florida State. And yet, with his school tucked away in the Appalachian mountains, Beamer is competing with other more prolific programs. How does he do it? By making those coveted “personal connections.”
Coach Beamer recruited Victor Harris by making a personal connection. Harris, a true freshman who is a starter for Virginia Tech, was being recruited by Beamer (and other coaches) in high school. Coach Beamer made a personal visit to Harris’ home one night when things suddenly went wrong. A kitchen fire had started. Harris, concerned for his mom and younger siblings, covered the pot which had caught fire on the stove with a blanket and carried it out the back door. Along the way, the fire spread to Harris’ arm, burning him badly.
Suddenly, Coach Beamer went from recruiter to father figure. He helped get Harris to the hospital. He comforted him. Encouraged him. Made sure everything was OK.
There was also a natural connection that was made because of the accident. You see, Frank Beamer had also been a burn victim as a young boy, disfiguring his neck and part of his upper body. Beamer was able to use his experiences to encourage the recovering Harris, as well as make an all important “personal connection” that aided his recruiting efforts with Harris. As Harris remembers, “when I was thinking about what college to go to, it was just obvious. I had a connection with Coach Beamer…I wanted to be a part of what he had going at Virginia Tech.”
I’m not saying that Coach Beamer used this horrible accident as some kind of twisted recruiting tool. I really believe at that moment of crisis, Beamer was doing what came naturally for him – he just cared about a young man and his circumstances. But it’s a great example of what can happen when coaches take the time to become involved in an athlete’s life. Really take the time. Not being rushed, not getting to the next prospect on a list…just taking the time to make that personal connection that ends up being the deciding factor for many athletes when they’re choosing a program.
So, how about you? Think back to the last five prospects you talked to. Did you take time to really hear what they are looking for in a college? Did you shoot the breeze for a little while before you dove in to all the great things there are to list about your school? Did you really take some time to make a personal connection with your prospect?
If you want a great tip on how to begin to make a personal connection with an athlete, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s something that’s simple and unremarkable, but its not used enough by college coaches who are recruiting athletes.
Coach Beamer should be an inspiration to all you coaches out there who’s school isn’t located in paradise, or has a much more prestigious competitor down the street, or who’s facilities aren’t the best in the area. Frank Beamer built Virginia Tech using a personal approach to recruiting. You can also.