In this article, you will learn the 4 Things one father has learned as he goes through the recruiting process with his son, and gain insights on how to find the right fit for your daughter on son to play the sport they love at the next level.
Mike O’Neill and his wife Laura came to hear me deliver NCSA’s “College Recruiting Simplified” in January of 2010. Elkhart Central Athletic Director Brian “Buck” Buckley set up the recruiting education so that Blue Blazer families would know more about the recruiting process.
“Sean’s freshman and sophomore seasons,” said Mike, “were good. We knew he was a decent swimmer but it wasn’t like he could swim in College, or so we thought. We went to your Talk thinking we had nothing to lose. We left going, ‘Okay, that was helpful’ and then were set up with College Scout Jim Sak. He walked us through what Colleges were looking for and where Sean would fit in. That opened up to us that he CAN swim in College. He is our oldest child. We had no idea. We took a couple of days and then got into the NCSA Network. That was almost two years ago. The other day my wife and I were on a walk and I told her that other than a highly recruited volleyball star at Elkhart Central, Sean (photo below) is one of the most recruited athletes in the school. He has over 20 Official Visit invitations.”
“Back in the winter of 2010,” said Mike, “we started Distributions with NCSA and that was powerful. We saw that College Coaches absolutely do use NCSA to find recruits. Michigan State looked at his profile and they were nice but his times were not a fit. We liked that kind of honest feedback.”
Sean, now a senior, has times of 55.27 in the 100 backstroke and 2:01 in the 200 back. He is 54:20 in the 100 Fly and 2:03 in the 200 Fly.
“We were down in Bloomington with friends,” said Mike, “and they asked why Sean wouldn’t swim for Indiana University. I told them, ‘Mark Spitz swam for IU! The top four swimmers in the state might be good enough for IU. If we tried to contact them they would say drop about five seconds off times and then we’ll talk.”
D1’s, 2’s and 3’s have looked at Sean through NCSA. Through the process he determined he wanted to go to a College with a highly rated chemistry program so he could be a research chemist one day, and that had a competitive swim program.
“At last count he had over 20 official visit invitations,” said Mike. “It is a good problem to have, and my wife and I will tell you besides his very good grades the main reason for all this attention is NCSA. We have done very good communication with all of these schools after they saw him through NCSA, but it all started with at least 90% of them finding Sean on NCSA.”
”Right now along with Oberlin he has accepted invitations from Washington and Lee University, Allegheny College, Ohio Northern University and Carthage College. Other colleges who have officially invited him for a recruit weekend include Case Western, Reserve, NYU, Brandeis University, Marist College, Iona College, Centre College and Lake Forest College”
It is so important for families to start taking Visits as underclassmen. The O’Neill’s took several Unofficial Visits during his junior year.
“We went to Ohio Northern during the day,” said Mike, the Dad. “We met with the coach. We did a trip down to Berry College in Georgia, up to Centre College in Kentucky and then Case Western in Cleveland.”
Being senior year, the Official Visits have started. This past week, on Thursday, they went to Oberlin College in Ohio, which is 3 ½ hours from their home in Elkhart, IN. “They matched him up with a swimmer as host. He spent two nights at Oberlin. He met with a Chemistry Professor who gave him a campus tour. He went to Chemistry classes. There were six other recruits there. At the end we met with the Coach. It was all very positive. Sean will take Official Visits to Alleghany the first week of October, to Ohio Northern the second week. He will visit Washington and Lee in November and Carthage as well.”
“As his times have become better,” added Mike, “it has expanded his choices. As a senior a few D1’s like Marist have looked at him and we are going to try to visit but the key is do they have a highly rated Chemistry program like some of these other schools?”
“One thing that has been very helpful,” said Mike, “is the recruiting education through NCSA. They have College Coaches come on Conference Calls and we dial in and ask questions and listen. The Coach tells it like it is and what they look for and what they don’t in recruits. They tell you what not to waste your time with.”
Sean is a bright young swimmer with outstanding work ethic. Top Colleges want students like him, and when they are a hard working athlete, that makes them more attractive.
“Sean is ranked 14th out of 357 students at Elkhart Central,” said Mike. “He has a weighted GPA of 4.11 and unweighted GPA of 3.66. On the SAT he got a 680 on Math and 600 on Verbal. He is not the strongest test taker which is why I liked that article you put on your Facebook page, Charlie, about Universities like DePaul deciding to make ACT and SAT scores optional. Like their counselor said, grades and the quality of the High School courses are more of an indicator of how one will do in College than Test results.”
Heck, he seems like a pretty good SAT Test taker to me!
“What we have found,” added Mike, “is that if we had just applied to some of these top ranked Colleges as a student, Sean probably would not get in. As an athlete, it helps a lot especially since he has worked so hard on academics. We have found grades are everything. You are so much more attractive because of your grades and being a combo package of a true student and an athlete. We are telling our 9th grade son to nail his academics because we are seeing how it is helping his older brother. We have also learned that if have an attractive package of grades and other things, the top rated private Universities will work with you on scholarships. At first you see they are $40,000 or $50,000 a year and you go there’s no way we are going there, but then the Merit based Scholarships kick in and the other ones. Sean just got something from Alleghany that he had already qualified for $23,000 a year. With many of these Colleges you would end up paying less than at a State University and the degree has a lot more clout.”
The O’Neill’s are putting in a lot of work and say at times it gets overwhelming, but they realize a lot is as stake with Sean’s future.
“What’s sad,” said Mike, “is that there are people out there still waiting for the College Coaches to recruit them. It’s tough to watch. They still go with the Old School line of thinking of the word will get out about them. For some, like Azariah Stahl (5’11” Elkhart Central sophomore volleyball outside hitter with 30” vertical leap) they will get chased. She is amazing and could be volleyball’s version of Skylar Diggins. The College Coaches will be all over her, but there are so many good athletes here not getting much of anything, and most of that is very local.”
“I am in marketing for a profession (Senior Marketing Manager for CIBER, Inc.) said Mike,” so I know how important it is to do it right. Doing NCSA and really working it is so worth the investment. NCSA markets you to the right levels. The education alone from NCSA has been priceless.”
In summary, Mike said there were four things they had learned over the past two years:
“One,” he said, “It is obvious that College Coaches turn to NCSA as a trusted source to find qualified student’athletes. Two, don’t wait for a Coach to reach out to you. Reach out to them and you will know from their reply or lack of reply if they have interest in you. Three, everything – no matter how good – needs to be marketed and NCSA markets Sean better that we can. Fourth, the package of ‘good times combined with good grades’ are what EVERY College Coach is looking for.”
Charlie Adams, NCSA Athletic Recruiting Network Senior Speaker