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I’m Going To Lose, And So Are YouMonday, April 21st, 2014

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

It is going to happen.

The odds of either of us being undefeated are wicked small. Yet, I bet you plan on winning, focus on winning, seldom talking about “that other” outcome. I do the same, because we are an optimistic lot, us coaches.

But we need to think about losing, not for the team’s sake, but for our own sake. We need a plan for when (not if, but when) losing happens.

Here’s the deal … coaching is emotional and stressful. Some researchers have found coaches go through a heavy load of stress during a contest. When the contest is evenly matched, and the expectation of winning is great, the heavier is the impact of losing upon the coach.

We coach in a world where the winner gets the spoils, and the losers suffer, and that can be really tough on coaches. The moment the contest is over, there you stand, full of the emotion of the event, and what do you do? Me? I spent the first five years of coaching throwing up. That was a wonderful experience.

But I’ve learned my lesson, and for the last 28 years of coaching the following are what I do when I lose.

The split second an event ends and I’ve lost …

I BREATHE LIKE I MEAN IT

I breathe in to a 4-count, and exhale to a 1-count. Seriously, it just ended, and I’m breathing. And so should you.

Why? Focused breathing has a positive reduction-effect on stress hormones. So it reduces immediate stress. It also distracts me for a few seconds and brings me back to center.

Try it right now. Just stop for 30 seconds and breathe. 4-count in, 1-count out. There is a benefit to it. I haven’t lied to you yet, and I’m not going to start now.

Then, within minutes after losing I   …

THANK “THEM”

I thank the opposition. Often contests are set up so the moment it ends teams shake hands. I do more than the shake, I thank them. For what? Making me a better person.

For the lead up to the contest, I and the team have worked on improvement, becoming better at what we do and who we are. That’s all because of the competition. So I am thankful for that opportunity. Thankful for them. I tell them, and I mean it.

Within 5 minutes of losing I …

FIND PERSPECTIVE

Everyone is starring in their own movie. Meaning, my team’s fans, parents, and opposition are thinking about themselves, not me. I lost, and the person who cares the most is … me. The same for you. It is your movie, after all.

So, if it is all about me, I change the movie.

I try to find quick perspective of the importance of the event. There are so many huge, important, things happening in the World, the outcome of my collegiate event isn’t even on the Richter scale. Yes, I get it that the outcome of the World Cup or an Olympic event can be of huge importance, I’m not talking about those events. My event, your event, is tiny, so small. In the big picture, we aren’t there.

Before I leave the event, I …

HELP ANOTHER

I heard a recent podcast where a book author said, when you are hurting, help someone. Funky as it sounds, it is almost magical.

Recently, we were expected to win a race, but we lost. On the way to our vehicles I saw an elderly woman who was struggling to get her belongings in her car. I stopped, and helped her. It took me three minutes to do what might have taken her thirty. That was it. No fantastic backstory. But helping someone when I was grumbly sure made me feel better.

And, on the way home …

A NEW PLAN

After leaving the event I begin planning. How are we going to move ahead in a positive, constructive, enjoyable way?

There are horror stories of the wrath of a coach after a loss. I offer no comment on what others do, but I have found the whip causes horses to run away, and a cube of sugar keeps them engaged.

A positive vision forward is what the team wants and deserves, more importantly, it is what we coaches need.

I’m out the door, to go to a race where I stand a good chance of losing. I have my mental toolbox packed in case I do. And what’s interesting, I’ll do all five things, also, if we win.

Dr. Mike Davenport is a longtime college coach and the man behind the popular website CoachingSportsToday.com.  He is a regular contributor to College Recruiting Weekly.

Can Emoticons Improve Your Recruiting?Monday, April 21st, 2014

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Love them or hate them, emoticons (you know the smiley faces like :)) have found their place in common written correspondence and if you choose NOT to use them, you might be at a disadvantage. Experian (CheetahMail) recently did a study showing 56% of brands studied had an improvement in their unique open-rate when using emoticons in their subject line. What?

So when brands send out emails, and put an emoticon in their subject line, they’ve seen more people are opening them. Getting recipients to open emails is a fundamental challenge for marketers, recruiters, coaches, etc. It seems like such an easy task but with the amount of marketing emails the average person gets day to day, finding that niche can be a huge benefit. In the world of college recruiting, no doubt you are running into similar issues. A recruit might get an email from 10 different coaches in a day. So how do you improve the probability that they will open yours? An emoticon might be a potential answer. Fortunately it is simple math. You take whatever subject you were using before and add a 🙂 to the end. Or use any other emoticon that might be fitting. The trick will be testing which work and which don’t.

If you are a purist and have an issue with emoticons, that’s fine. You might argue it dilutes the professionalism of the email and reflects negatively on your institution. That is a fair argument. The balance you have to weigh is whether that matters or not if less people are even reading the email to begin with.

Speaking of time saving tools, Front Rush is the best of the best.  If you’re a serious recruiter, this is one tool you don’t want to be without.  Click here for the low-down on this incredible resource used by thousands of coaches around the country.

Teaching Recruiting Techniques While Selling Cosmetics at the MallSunday, April 20th, 2014

If you keep your eyes open, there are people all around you in your daily life that can teach you really valuable recruiting techniques.

I was reminded of that on a recent walk through the Water Tower Place mall in downtown Chicago.  It’s seven levels of shopping paradise – at least if you ask my wife, my daughter, and my mother-in-law, who were with me in Chicago after visiting my daughter in college.

My 7-year old son knows that the second floor of the mall is home to a Lego store, so we were chasing behind him as he darted into  building block heaven.  As I looked behind me, I noticed that the rest of my family was now talking to a stylishly dressed cosmetics salesman at the Orogold Cosmetics kiosk.

I wasn’t worried.  My wife is a pro at politely listening to salespeople and then walking away.  However, as my son sat building a robot at the Lego table inside the story, I peeked out the door and saw that they were all still listening to what the cosmetics salesman had to say.  In fact, they looked like they were actually kind of enjoying it. (My daughter Kaley looked downright fascinated!)

Nasav 3

Uh oh.

Twenty minutes later, I made my way over to seehow the ladies were doing.  I walked into the middle of one of the best, most professional, most engaging sales presentations I had ever heard.  The sales professional’s name was Nadav, who I later found out was originally from Israel but was now part of a small group of owners who ran four cosmetics kiosks throughout the mall and across the street.

After he had made my wife and her mom an offer on a moisturizer and de-wrinkler they couldn’t refuse, I stuck around to ask him a few questions.  I wanted to find out his secret to selling in a highly competitive environment – a mall on the Miracle Mile in the middle of touristy downtown Chicago, where finding bigger, better known cosmetic brands in flashier settings.

I came to find out that Nadav was a highly successful professional, who had studied his market and taken time to develop his technique.  His all-time best single sale in the mall was $13,000 to one person, so this guy was a pro.

I asked him to share some of the principles that made him successful.  What he told me has direct application to any college coach looking to connect with his or her prospects more effectively, as well as sell them on their program (even if it’s not he biggest brand on the block):

  • Earning trust.  Nadav tries to earn the trust of each customer before he tries to sell.  Without trust, he says, he can’t justify why they should buy his product from him.  We’ve talked about earning trust before…how do you earn trust with your recruits, Coach?
  • Mastering the approach.  Nadav has put a lot of time and attention into how he first establishes contact with a new customer.  That sets the tone for the relationship, even if it’s for only a few minutes.  If he does that correctly, he says “I have the chance of earning a customer for ten years.”  How much time to you put into figuring out what your approach sounds like to your recruits, Coach?
  • Compliments.  Part of his approach is to compliment his potential customer.  It’s such a simple act, but extremely powerful.  And yet, many coaches don’t continue to compliment their recruits throughout the process like Nadav does.  “Compliments”, says Nadav, “help make that connection.  And everyone that I talk to likes to be complimented.”
  • Knowing more about his competition than his own product.  “I don’t know if I can tell you everything that’s in our product, but I make sure I know everything that’s in my competitor’s product.”  Why?  Because he wants to make sure he can outline the differences between Orogold Cosmetics and whatever brand of cosmetics they are currently using.  He isn’t focused on “negatively recruiting” his competitor; rather, he wants to be passionate about outlining the differences between his product and others, as well as passionately explaining why his is the better solution.  “From start to finish, I believe in my product and am excited to sell it.”  Are you passionately selling your program, and highlighting the differences between you and your competitors in a professional way?
  • 10 lines.  Nadav has ten memorized, rehearsed, fall-back one-liners and conversation points that he is ready to use with any new customer.  If the conversation is lagging, or they seem to be uninterested, Nadav has a stable of tried-and-true lines to get the conversation going, or to make his customer laugh.  He’s practiced them, and figured out why they work and when he should use them.  It makes him comfortable about approaching any customer in any situation.  Do you have a set of conversation points, questions, or one-liners to help connect you with your recruits, Coach?
  • It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.  In other words, the “feel” of the language you use with your prospect is even more important than the facts you are relaying to them.  Why?  As we’ve said before, our research clearly shows that today’s teenage prospects are focused more on how you are making them feel, whether they are reading a letter you’ve written or engaging with you through social media.  That’s one of the big reasons we focus on the overall tone of the messages and recruiting strategy that we help develop for our clients.  The first thing recruits look for is the ability to trust you and connect with you (just like someone trying to figure out which cosmetic product to use).
  • Only sell what you think your customer needs.  Because he’s talented, Nadav could probably trick a lot of people into buying as much as he could.  But he holds to a principle of “only selling my customer what I truly feel they need.”  That helps build trust.  And, it’s the right thing to do.
  • “I love my job because it’s hard”.  Nadav works in an extremely competitive market.  It’s a $43billion dollar industry comprised with tens of thousands of products being sold by hundreds of different companies.  If you’re going to work in cosmetics – or in college coaching – you’d better love your job, because it’s hard and takes place in a competitive environment.  Approach your duty as a recruiter with passion, excitement, and an attitude like Nadav.  If you do, you’ll probably be successful at what you do.

So if you find ourself walking around the Water Tower Place mall on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, make your way up to the second level and spend some time with Nadav at the Orogold Cosmetics kiosk next to the Lego store.  You’ll probably end up buying some expensive cosmetics, and you’ll learn some incredible recruiting techniques that you can use in your future recruiting efforts.

How Geno Made Pressure FunMonday, April 14th, 2014

I had the chance to be in the crowd at the 2014 NCAA women’s basketball national championship game, where the UConn Huskies won the title and completed a perfect season.

At the center of the celebration was their longtime coach, Geno Auriemma.  Fans of women’s basketball seem to either love him or hate him (proportionally, I’m guessing, based on how close you live to Storrs, Connecticutt).  However, no matter which side you land on, you have to admire what he has built through recruiting and coaching.

But what I want to focus on has nothing to do with how well his Huskies played against a previously undefeated Notre Dame team.

It’s actually something I heard their talented center, Breanna Stewart talk about in front of their cheering fans as they were being presented with their championship trophy.  She was asked about how Coach Auriemma convinced them that “the pressure of going after perfection was fun.”

“This season we wanted to chase perfection, and we did that,” said Stewart, the 2014 Women’s Final Four MVP.

Added senior center Stefanie Dolson: “Everyone said we had a lot of pressure on our backs but we didn’t. We went in there having fun. We were loose and playing great.”

For me, this was the big story that not enough people are talking about – and not enough coaches are trying to emulate.

Coach Auriemma has put into practice an idea we’ve advocated for several years, based on our research and focus group studies with prospects and current college student-athletes:

Today’s athlete needs (and wants) to know how to think about ideas and facts you may be presenting them.

That doesn’t mean their not smart.  They are.  And, it doesn’t mean that they are ripe to be manipulated or tricked into playing for another coach (well, most of the time anyway).

What it does mean is that they need help defining how to think about an idea that you are trying to present them, whether that’s when you are recruiting them or when you are coaching them.

Let’s rewind to Breanna Stewart’s comments that I listened to at the Final Four.  To paraphrase, she recalled how Coach Auriemma starting talking to the team about how fun they were going to have trying to chase perfection and win a national championship.  And, that the pressure and incredibly hard work that it was going to take to achieve that goal should be…wait for it….”fun”.

In short, he took a concept with a lot of potential negativity tied to it – hard work, sacrifice, pressure – and declared it to be “fun”.  And, as most teenagers and young adults tend to do, his team listened to what he was saying and decided to believe it.

Understand, they had the choice to look at it as a negative. Truthfully, most coaches and student-athletes are going to choose to take that approach.  As humans, we tend to look at the worst possible outcome for a particular situation, not the best.  What happens when you are told something contrary, and buy-in to a coach’s vision and enthusiasm?  You win national championships.

Again, here’s what Coach Auriemma did:

  • Observed a potential negative situation.
  • Crafted a more positive way to think about that potential negative situation.
  • Verbally reinforced the way he wanted the situation to be viewed by his team.
  • Followed through with that idea throughout the season.
  • Resulted in a positive outcome.

Your words and ideas are powerful.  What you tell your recruits, your team, your assistant coach, your head coach, and your athletic director, about how to view a situation is key to making it through that potential negative situation.

What kind of situations or obstacles are needing your defining (or re-defining)?  It might be your team’s record, your facility, your college’s location, the challenge of trying to win a conference title, the challenge of winning your first conference match in two years, the challenge of recruiting your best class ever, or why the new offense you are installing this next season is going to be the key to turning everything around.

Whatever it is, your team is listening to you.  What exactly are you telling them?

Two Speakers Added to NCRC 2014 Line-UpMonday, April 14th, 2014

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“I Got This” – Where The Unraveling BeginsFriday, April 11th, 2014

by Tyler Brandt, National Recruiting Coordinator

After we moved into our new house, my wife and I knew at some point we would finish our basement as a place for our kids to hang out with their friends and obviously increase the value of our home. It was something we had done in our previous home and it was great for the kids. We had a handyman finish our previous basement as we were moving cross-country and needed it done prior to arriving in Iowa from Arizona.

This time it was different, I was here, I had some framing, drywall and finishing experience so this would be a great DIY project for me and save a ton of money. So, I went out and priced materials and decided to get a plan ready to go. As a kid I had worked on farms, in construction, some mason work, and took wood shop along with welding in school so – “I Got This.”

While I was at my son’s basketball practice I was talking with one of the moms about my upcoming project and she said that her husband was a Industrial Engineer graduate from Iowa State University and owns his own framing & construction company and would be more than happy to take a look at the project for me. I of course said, “That would be great – I would like his suggestions for MY project!” He eventually called and came over and we talked about the job and I thanked him for all of his great ideas and let him know that it was really going to help ME DO MY DIY PROJECT!!

For the next few days I walked around my basement drawing, measuring, computing and imagining how awesome MY project was going to be with the ideas from my buddy – The Construction Professional. And the time finally came to start the project and BE A MAN that can build things! While in Home Depot with a flat bed full of lumber and hardware a clerk came up and said Looks like a big project” and I said “I am finishing my basement” in my greatest Tim the Toolman Taylor voice stopping just short of the manly grunts. The clerk said “That is a great project but you should probably be using green treated lumber for the base of your wall frames.”

I said thank you and slowly put everything back into the places where I had got them and called my wife and said “What do you think about using Mark for the basement project?” Being the intelligent wife she is she says “Why – I thought you were going to do it? And the professional coach in me said “I was in the land of EGO RULES EVERYTHING but in the real world where results are accomplished by doing things the right way I would do more damage than good. It would get done but it would be done my way not the way it should be done!

So, I made the call. I have watched my choice to accept the help from a professional who has a skill set and a knowledge base different from my own transform my basement into something that we will be able to use and be proud of for as long as we own this house. What was the cost to me? Financially we paid a little more than if I would have done the job myself, that’s for sure, but the quality is 100 fold better. Let’s quickly talk about my EGO on this issue – my EGO is SOARING THROUGH THE CLOUDS! As I watch what is happening in my house for my kids I can’t tell you how good I feel about my choice to hire a professional to help me in a place that I needed it!

I am flying high right now because life is imitating art in my own home! I have written on many occasions about how we as coaches and business professionals need to seek out and secure people that can help us accomplish our goals in areas that we are not experts. That is exactly what I did and I couldn’t be happier with the results!

The Ups and Downs Of Being RecruitedFriday, April 11th, 2014

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

I sat down for an extremely insightful conversation with the parents of a young lady who has signed with Division 1 University of San Diego to play college basketball. Over lunch and beyond, Jeff and Patty Buhr took me behind the scenes on how their daughter Caroline ended up connecting with an athletic scholarship at an outstanding school located in paradise, and what college coaches to stand out from others in the recruiting.

“Relief,” was the first word Patty said when we sat down at The Vine restaurant in South Bend to go over their recruiting process. They had put maximum effort into recruiting, and along the way had seen plenty of highs and lows!

Their 12th grade daughter Caroline recently was named to the prestigious Indiana All Star team. She was a 4 year prime performer for PennHigh School, leading them to the 4A state title game this past March. As a sophomore she set a school record by making 64% of her shots. At 6’1″ and athletic and skilled from an early age, she learned that Mid-majors like BallState were interested in her as early as 8th grade. It was after a summer showcase event before 9th grade that the interest increased with Big Ten schools like Penn State and Michigan showing a lot of interest.

Caroline really liked Michigan and their coach Kevin Borseth, but he went back to be coach at Green Bay. Along the way, the Buhr’s would experience multiple occasions of developing relationships with coaching staffs only to see them get let go or take a new position at another school, which was frustrating. They also found it hard at times to know if coaches were up front with them about where Caroline stood on their recruiting lists.

“Iowa was very good at being up front,” said Jeff. “They said, regarding visiting, that they were pretty sure they would offer but they weren’t there yet and they didn’t want us to make the effort to visit and expect an offer when they were not ready to so.”

As the high school years went along, they sometimes found that Caroline would be a back up offer in case a more highly rated player picked another school. Other times she would be the number one target of a school where they really wanted her. They also learned that despite the enthusiasm of what assistant coaches were telling them about probable upcoming scholarship offers, the head coach made the recruiting decisions and sometimes didn’t agree with the assistant’s view of Caroline.

From an early age, Caroline has had an adventurous spirit and dreamed of signing with a California school like PepperdineUniversity (being located right off MalibuBeach was attractive!). She dreamed of becoming an orthodontist, and living on a ranch with her own vineyard. Then the summer before her junior year, a local connection with a Stanford coach put Caroline on Stanford’s radar screen and she was invited to come to their Elite camp. It was a great opportunity and an even greater experience.

“She went in the summer for a long and rather intensive camp”, said Jeff. “I spent some time with the head coach and lead assistant coach and she flat out told me that no doubt Caroline could play at Stanford but they had a number of players in their recruiting hopper. Every school has their needs. They told us they needed two ‘bigs’. If they could get them, they could focus on Caroline. Another thing regarding top academic schools like Stanford is it takes time for the school to sort out which recruits can actually meet their higher academic standards. And if you are lower on their list, you are stuck waiting to see what other recruits fall off the list for whatever reasons, academic, choice, etc.”

“If you are trying to get a scholarship with a top academic school,” said Patty, “you need to do as best you can on the SAT or ACT as early as you can. Some kids test better than others. Caroline is smart, but she doesn’t test that great. She just needed coaching on how to better take these tests. With Caroline we did Sylvan Test Prep for the ACT. We focused on the ACT as we had heard that the ACT is a better test for math/science oriented students, compared to the SAT.  Sylvan had her do a practice test to identify areas of weakness, and this really helped her to know what to study to be prepared for the test. She went two to three times a week for a month, and the results were good enough for schools she was considering.”

Being strong in the classroom and on the basketball court helped Caroline attract interest. She also was a very good soccer player. “I think soccer success and being a good athlete in general was her biggest asset,” said Jeff. “Her grades were also a big plus for her in the process, especially for the schools she was interested in.” Once she got her standardized test score up, she could get in just about any school she wanted.

After a strong 10th grade year of high school ball, Caroline was playing in a summer showcase just before her junior year with coaches from Oklahoma State, Michigan, Indiana, Stanford and mid-majors watching her specifically. “They were right there courtside and she was playing SO well,” said Patty. Unfortunately, she tore her ACL on that last Exposure day.  It was an injury that cost her almost all of her junior season. She was able to return to play in the final four games of the season, but her minutes were limited as she was not 100% ready to go.

Many schools did not know of her injury so on September 1st of her junior year, the first day college programs could personally write her, she got over 50 letters.  “There were many big programs in the bunch,” said Jeff, ” including a hand written letter from the head coach at Stanford, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Penn State, Northwestern, Iowa State, Cal, Wake Forest, Oklahoma State, and more. I have a picture of the 50 letters all laid out so you can see them together. It was overwhelming and she continued to get 15 to 20 letters a day for a year. ”

However, as programs learned of her injury she received encouraging letters about their continued interest in her, but a lot of their recruiting fell by the wayside.  While some major D1s stayed interested, she shifted to more of a mid-major recruit at the D1 level. “At the end of the day,” said Jeff, “it was back to the mid-majors.”

Jeff and Patty said the one positive thing about being injured  was that it allowed time for college visits that fall, winter and early spring of her junior year. They sat down with her and made a list of the top 20 schools she was interested in and then the top ten. They visited every one of the top ten. Caroline was pretty picky in what she was looking for at the next level. She wanted to get away from home; her older sisters had gone to college in state. She wanted a strong academic school. Miami of Ohio became a leading contender as their coaches were there for her from the start, even after the injury, and she liked the school. However, in the spring of her junior year, the coaching staff was let go and new relationships had to be developed with the new coaches. The new head coach told them he wanted to see her at a camp and after watching her there he would either offer her, not offer her, or tell her that they just need to “watch her more” that summer.

“No pressure!” said Patty, with a smile.

But she did what they wanted and got a scholarship offer from the new coach. The other thing the head coach said that resonated with them was that he wanted the players he signed to have a passion for playing there and to bleed Miami. That is a good thing because the happiest recruits are the ones that really, really want to play for a school and have many reasons why.

“We really listened to that because while Caroline really liked Miami,” said Jeff, “she had always wanted to go somewhere totally ‘out of the box’ and out of the Midwest. As time went on she wondered if she had that burning passion for being at Miami of Ohio like the coach wanted his recruits to have.”

They had a very good visit to Dayton and appreciated how their coach was very honest in saying there was a local recruit they liked more but that Caroline was next to her on their list. They had only one opening for their Class of 2014 recruits and Patty was concerned it would be difficult being the only player in a grade. Caroline didn’t mind that much, but in the end Dayton wasn’t a fit.

At this point, Miami of Ohio was the leader. Then, the University of Toledo came into play. Their coaches wanted her in the worst way and had kept in close contact since the injury. The Buhr’s took a visit and really liked the atmosphere at the game and the coaching staff. Toledo draws very well and they have many supportive fans. Then the coaches did something that really sold them on Toledo. They encouraged Jeff, Patty and Caroline to go into the post game locker room and ask the players anything about the program, the coaches, the school. Anything.

“So we are in there around these sweaty players in a roundtable discussion where nothing was sacred not to ask,” said Patty. “I left there so impressed the coaches had faith to do that, and the players had all kinds of good things to say about what it was like to play for Toledo and that coaching staff. You could tell they were having fun and were part of a tight program.”

Jeff compared that to visiting a Pac 12 program where the players were very up front that playing at that level was a job and not a whole lot of fun.

“That’s why you take visits,” said Patty.  “Being on campus, meeting the staff and the players, and learning about the academics, you can gain so much to help in your decision. The intangibles, little things that you would never think about might come to light on a visit.” Patty emphasized the importance to taking a lot of visits and starting them early in the process.

Toledo, based a lot on how open they were in allowing the Buhr’s to have that locker room candid talk with the players, moved up the list to the top with Miami of Ohio. They kept visiting Northwestern, but they wouldn’t commit to an offer. Green Bay was the very first offer she received as a sophomore. Despite a coaching change, the offer was kept, and although she loved the new coach, the school was not the right fit for what she was looking for.

“Caroline was picky,” said Jeff. “While it was frustrating for us that we couldn’t get some of the programs to be up front with us on where she stood, I’m sure it was frustrating for some of those that really wanted her that she was taking her time and looking to find all the things she wanted in a school and program.”

Caroline developed a strong attraction to an ACC school. One of their assistants really liked her, but the head coach was more hesitant. “They didn’t think she could defend the quick guards they would face in the ACC,” said Jeff. “They wanted her to come to camp and play one on one with one of their top recruits. She did and basically they both scored against each other quite often (Caroline still in knee brace of course). I don’t think she met their test.”

“After the camp,” added Patty, “both the assistant and head coach sent a hand written letter telling her she did great, and the assistant coach said she did ‘what she needed to do’ at the camp. In the end, they had a higher ranked recruit that ended up committing so there was not the need. Also, we figured out that the assistant coach was more excited about her than the head coach who, in the end, makes the decisions.”

The summer before her senior year was Caroline’s final participation at various AAU Exposure Events. After the camp at Miami of Ohio, Miami was the clear leader on her list of schools. Toledo had moved up, based on their visit that spring. After several of the AAU events she had quite a few calls from schools that were interested in offering.  “Many Mid-major D-1s let us know that if we would come visit, they would offer,” said Patty. “We were running out of patience, time, and it is expensive to travel far away. We didn’t want to go visit just to rack up another offer, so we told Caroline that unless she had a really strong desire to visit another school, that we just needed to be done and she needed to decide. She had several good options to choose from.  The University of Denver was very interested. Jeff and I really liked that school. Their assistant Abby (Waner) Bartolotta had been a superstar player for Duke and she was so personable. It’s a great private school, but Caroline was not drawn enough to it to feel like she had to go visit.  Our list of Top 10 and Top 20 schools kept getting revised and whittled down.”

Then, San Diego came into the picture in a way that would eventually look like it was meant to happen.

Caroline’s travel team was playing in a July Showcase. Caroline’s teammate, Jess Alexander, was being heavily recruiting by D2 Saginaw Valley State. Their coach Jamie Pewinski was recruiting Jess hard. She happened to be a friend of Cindy Fisher, the head coach of the University of San Diego.

“They were sitting together because they were friends,” said Jeff. “Coach Fisher said she had some time to kill and was there anyone there she should watch. The coach said, “Yeah, Jess has a teammate named Caroline you should see because she is your style of player.’ On that recommendation she stayed and watched her. She liked what she saw and later called Caroline.”

Miami and Toledo wanted Caroline to commit before the July showcases. The Buhr’s said they wanted to get through the Exposure events and that Caroline would make her decision in early August. “We told them we know you have to make other offers,” said Jeff. “They weren’t happy, but they were willing to be patient and allow us to sort everything out, to ensure that Caroline made the right decision.  I tried to be upfront about everything, but with San Diego’s sudden real interest things had changed.”

The Buhr’s sat down and talked about San Diego with Caroline. It was a top 100 academic school. It was in California. It was fairly small, private, has a strong pre-health program, and touts a Top-10 ranking as a “most beautiful campus.” Then Caroline remembered that it was during a class the fall of her junior year, when they were practicing completing college applications, that one of her friends had told her that she should look into the University of San Diego, as his brother was going to school there and he loved it. She realized this was the same school that was recruiting her—the one that her friend had encouraged her to explore nine months earlier. She later learned that yet another friend also had a sibling that was at USD, and they had nothing but good things to say about the school.

Caroline became very interested in San Diego. Everything was coming together. It fit everything, and the coach appeared very interested.

“I called Coach Fisher because I wanted to see just how interested they really were because Caroline was extremely interested,” said Jeff. “Coach was happy to hear from me and said, yes, she was very interested. She was ready to make an offer but needed her to come out for a visit. So now we’re sitting there thinking of ordering plane tickets but not totally sure an offer would be made. The coach did say they had a couple of others they were bringing in but they were more courtesy visits and they would rather have Caroline. It was a visit we needed to take.  Caroline was pretty adamant that out of all the schools interested in her that this was the one she really wanted to visit.”

The Buhr’s visited and everything went great. An offer wasn’t made then, but when they were flying back to Indiana Coach Fisher called to make an offer. There were some communication mix ups where they didn’t connect and for awhile the Buhr’s thought San Diego wasn’t  interested and Coach Fisher thought Caroline wasn’t interested, but they connected, made the offer and Caroline accepted.

She would be playing at a very good academic University on a full athletic scholarship of $57,000 a year.

During the August visit to San Diego, Coach Fisher told Patty that she had “found Caroline.” Typically it is an assistant that identifies a potential recruit, follows them, and then brings them to the attention of the head coach.  “Coach Fisher told me that that she believed that ‘things happen for a reason,’” said Patty.  “After all that we had been through, with the injury, the recruiting ups and downs, and then at the end, for USD to come into play at the very end with all that Caroline was looking for in a basketball program and academic school—we shared that same sentiment. It was meant to be. The style of play that USD has was a great match to how Caroline plays and that was why they wanted her. This was important to Caroline in her decision—that they played her type of game. When she accepted to Coach Fisher on the phone, Caroline said Coach Fisher screamed she was so excited. Caroline knew she was really wanted, and this was so huge to all of us.”

“I truly do believe that God had His hand in this process,” said Patty. “From the injury that rocked her from probably a higher D1 school to landing there at USD. This is where she is supposed to be. Caroline is excited about USD and we are too!”

A lot of hard work and effort had gone into Caroline earning this remarkable opportunity. Coaches along the way said what they really liked about her playing for MBA Select AAU program was players from there are known for the high skills set and their work ethic. Caroline had also gained a great deal from playing for a Penn High program that had reached the 4A state title game twice in her high school career. Penn coach Kristi Kaniewski Ulrich runs a first class program known for teaching defensive fundamentals.

Although it took a lot of work and a there was a lot of stress, in the end Caroline found that the right playing level for her was high mid-major, like San Diego. She loves basketball. When she missed most of her junior year season with the knee injury, she realized then how much she missed not only playing in games but she missed the hard practices and running “down and backs.” Playing is something that she will never take for granted again.  She will love it at San Diego, but it won’t consume her.

“Caroline has a lot of balance in her life,” said Patty. “She loves playing basketball, but she also wants to be a student and look to the future after she graduates. Some of these college programs were telling us how many players they had put into the WNBA. That’s not even on her radar. She wants to play hard for a solid and reputable women’s basketball program, and in the end graduate with a degree from a school with some prestige.”

When she signed her national letter of intent, Caroline said this: “I liked the school, the people, the coaching staff and players, and on top of that USD represented the type of school I was looking for academically. And I can’t complain about the weather!”

It hasn’t snowed in San Diego since 1967.

Her versatility as a player was a strong positive for the USD coaches. “Caroline’s ability to play inside and outside for us is going to make her a hard matchup for our opponents,” said Coach Fisher. “Caroline’s game is very smooth and she plays at an extremely high level. I am excited to see her on the floor and watch her game develop.”

San Diego is a long way from home, but Jeff put it this way:  “Had she picked Miami of Ohio it would have been a 4 1/2 hour drive.  San Diego is a 4 hour direct flight from MidwayAirport in Chicago.”

“We can watch all her games on the internet,” said Patty. “Plus we have an excuse to go somewhere warm in the dead of winter!”

I asked them about the growing trend of athletes specializing in one sport, compared to the old days when so many played three or even four. “I don’t think anyone should be pressured to focus on one sport,” said Jeff. “I think multiple sports are better to a point. At some point it can be just too much for everyone, between time and money. I think kids kind of figure this out on their own. It was our girls’ decision to quit soccer, not ours. We told them we would respect their decision and support them no matter what.”

Jeff said that having Caroline in the NCSA Athletic Recruiting Network had been very helpful in educating them on many things involving recruiting, and having a recruiting coach to talk to through the process was valuable.

As our lunchtime visit wound down, they smiled at some of the recruiting memories.

“Green Bay would send her these recruiting letters in the mail,” said Patty, “and they would take various pictures of Caroline off the internet of her playing basketball for Penn, and then they would Photoshop a Green Bay uniform on her instead. This was fun to see, and always caught our attention. At Wake Forest because of her interest in the medical field they had the head of the Biology Department take her to the cadaver classroom and had her put on gloves and handle a human knee, showing her what the ACL ligament was. That was pretty memorable for all of us.”

I asked Patty to sum it all up. “It is not easy by any means to get a scholarship,” said Patty, “especially if you have particular criteria you are looking for. But we met so many interesting people, got to see a lot of schools, and when it all came together it was an amazing journey!”

Charlie Adams is a motivational speaker who works with college coaches and athletes to help develop a set of positive, solution centered and team oriented attitudes. His son Jack was a college cross country runner. His daughter Abby will be a college swimmer starting this Fall, and his youngest daughter Grace plays for Skylar Diggins’ Elite Travel team. Charlie can be reached at charlie@stokethefirewithin.com

Email Overload!Sunday, April 6th, 2014

by Mandy Green, Head Women’s Soccer Coach, The University of South Dakota

Over the last few months, I have been reading everything I can about how to manage my email better.  I have also started to interview some of my college coaching friends out there trying to find what they are doing to process, manage, and keep track of all of the emails we as coaches have to deal with everyday.

I NEEDED to do this.

About two years ago I had over 10,000 emails in my inbox.  Obnoxious, I know.  The worst part about it was that I knew I was missing out on recruits, I wasn’t responding quick enough or at all, I was forgetting who I had sent what to, etc.  My email inbox owned me.

I got to the point where I was just overwhelmed by it all.  I knew that I had to figure out how to use email efficiently because it is an essential part to our job.

1st Step To Email Efficiency: List Making

I started my quest to use email better by making a list of all of the steps in the recruiting process that involve email in some way.  I am a list maker and need to have everything out of my head and on paper in front of me so I can analyze and identify where problems may be.

Here is the quick and very general list I created.

  1. New emails that come in from prospects who are interested
  2. Enter in all new recruits into our database
  3. Get the first email out
  4. Have a system for processing and storing all emails that are returned from prospects.
  5. Creating consistent conversations with recruits
  6. Keeping track of who has been sent what amongst our staff

Where are the Problems?

After making this list, I really took a look at the system I had in place to see which part of email the process pertaining to recruiting that I was struggling with..

*At the time, I had no full-time assistants and I knew that I couldn’t waste time entering names into a database.  I hired a student worker who came in a few times a week and could get every name entered within a day or two.  Huge time savor!

*Once the names are in, I have a few great first letters that have I gotten great results with.   Dan Tudor has really helped us open the door to getting the recruits we want with all of his advice on how to write effective recruiting letters.  But he has also created a problem for me in that now I have too many recruiting emails to deal with.

*Step 4-6 is where I get overwhelmed.

Solution

To solve the problems I was having, I first started by reading whatever I can get my hands on as it pertains to using email more efficiently.  One issue with what is out there is that it is all written for the business world so nothing is recruiting specific.

Recently I have started interviewing my coaching friends to see what they have been doing.

I have been trying and tweaking different methods and techniques.  This is still very much a work in progress because for me, I still haven’t found a complete system that I absolutely love.

What I am going to start doing on a new Coaching Productivity Newsletter that will start going out at least once a month, is to use it as a way to talk through the problem.  I will share methods or techniques that I am trying or anything new that I just learned in an effort to solve this email overload issue I am having.  If you are interested in joining in on the conversation or if you have something to share please go to www.mandygreencps.com.  Opt in and I will send you my newsletter every week it goes out.   I promise, I won’t fill your inbox with more crap.

Also, if you wouldn’t mind, I would love to interview you!   I am not interested in who you are recruiting or what you are sending to them.  I want to know how you process and manage your email.  Please email me at mandy@mandygreencps.com if you’re up for it.

FREE Organize Your Recruiting Ebook. For a limited time, receive a free chapter out of my Green Time Management For Coaches Workbook when you visit Coaching Productivity Strategies at www.mandygreencps.com.

Is Logic Possible Without A Paradigm Shift?Friday, April 4th, 2014

by Tyler Brandt, National Recruiting Coordinator

How often do you agree with a person who comes up with a solution to a problem that lands outside of your value system? It’s easy to say you are open to change and finding solutions, but that is often internally loaded with the condition that the solution fits within your concept of logical.

I have a coaching colleague of 20 years that is at the polar opposite of my political beliefs. We have great public Facebook banter discussing the reasonable acquiescence of the other side’s party to the beliefs of the warring faction. We don’t ever get anywhere because we both are looking at the issues from our perceived positions of logic that are constrained to our personal paradigms.

The question standing before you as a coach attempting to lead your athletes and team to the pinnacle of success is…….

Can you really see the most logical solutions to your program’s problems – without a shift in your personal paradigm?

What does this really mean to you as a coach? When people start talking about paradigm shifts everyone gets uneasy because they feel as if they are being told they are doing things incorrectly and ARE WRONG! This couldn’t be further from the truth. A paradigm shift is not accepting you’re wrong and someone else is right, it is accepting that there are multiple ways to attack a problem and be successful.

The problem that we as coaches often face is that we come across a problem and intentionally address it in-house because that’s our nature. “What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room” which is ok for things that happen in the locker room. However, when it comes to recruiting or logistics or budgets or any number of other things, it is not always conceivable to ONLY call upon your personal knowledge to attempt to affect a challenge in your own program. Generally speaking, whatever the challenge is – wouldn’t be a challenge if you  had the knowledge, awareness or experience to keep it from becoming a challenge in the first place.  Now that it is a challenge is it LOGICAL to assume that you have the wherewithal to address it?

The greatest leaders understand they are only one mind and a collective group of thought leaders or change agents will be infinitely more equipped to come up with a best practice for any challenge that arises. Why do we go to clinics or watch videos? As coaches we are looking for ways to improve what we do for our athletes and our teams. So often we need an outside set of eyes to view what we are completely invested in to get an unbiased, “COMPLETELY LOGICAL”, understanding of the problem so the best solution can be obtained, not the best solution I can come up with.

The only thing you will be accused of by going to an outside source or consultant is being incredibly smart. When you shift your paradigm to thinking that “I need someone to look at this to see if they see what I see” then you are on your way to absolute greatness!

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