One year down, three to go. You're not so much the new kid on the block, but you haven't really gotten the upper classmen respect yet. Sound familiar? Hello sophomore year!
It's an awkward middle-of- high-school year, but hey, at least you have one year up on those freshmen. It's also one year closer to getting recruited by your dream school and there's still a lot of work to get done to make that happen.
Revisit your research
You know that list of schools you made? Blow the dust off of it and take a look at what you were thinking. Do you still like those schools? Are there any schools that are not on that list that have come onto your radar recently? Are there schools to remove?
Really take some time with this. You don't have to have all of this nailed down right now; it's just good to keep everything in check and make sure that you are growing with your list.
Make a chart
With your current list of schools, let's get a little organized. Start chronicling where you are with your recruitment and college planning by jotting things down or using a spreadsheet. Use this as a chance to remember how you felt about schools, their teams, their facilities, etc. You can also use it to make sure that you are meeting all deadline requirements and more. Some things to think about:
- Did I visit the campus?
- Did I like the athletic facilities?
- Did I call the coach for a chat?
- Did I even like the coach?
- Who has sent me a brochure/information on athletics?
- Date that the recruitment process starts (i.e., when coaches can start contacting you)
Check off all the areas for each school on your list. It will be a tremendous help when you see it all in front of you. You'll be able to see the ones with the more checks, which schools pique your interest, and which ones you may have thought were your top picks, but maybe ended up not feeling like you’d fit in after your visit. Maybe your favorites haven't sent you any brochures or you haven't been in contact with the coach. That college list could become a little smaller after you take a look at your current landscape—and that's a good thing!
The NCAA Eligibility Center
According to the Eligibility Center, if you want to play college athletics, you need to be certified by them. The 2012-2013 Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete says prospective athletes should register at the beginning of their sophomore year (you will likely hear to register closer to your junior year). That being said, I'm inclined to say do what the NCAA recommends!
If anything, registering early puts you into the NCAA system and will allow schools to view your academic records. It also keeps up with you as you mature as an athlete/student, as it will require you to send in transcripts and academic progress; so when schools start checking athletes out, they will have a really good idea of what type of athlete you are. Remember: the NCAA is there to protect you but not there to do the work for you.
Before registering, print out this NCAA checklist and make sure you have all your ducks in a row. There's nothing worse than sitting down to get this done and not having half of the info you need. Friendly tip: you're probably going to need your parents' help on this one since there is a $70 fee to register.
After you're set with registering, take a really good look at the site. It's a fantastic space for the college-bound athlete with a vast array of resources that can answer any question you may have.
Note: If you are only interested in NCAA Division III schools, you do not have to register with the Center. In those cases, check out the recruitment procedures at the specific schools you are interested in. Also, if none of your preferred schools are in the NCAA, don't register! The NAIA is not affiliated with the Eligibility Center.
What to expect
Like freshman year, there's not much coming your way yet. You may still get some brochures from schools/coaches, but they are still not allowed to call or really make any contact with you. You can call them and hope they'll pick up, but they cannot call you back. Other no-no's as of sophomore year still include no off-campus contact with coaches and no official visits (i.e., school/coach funding your trip for a visit).
If you are interested in playing basketball (men's or women's), ice hockey (men's or women's), or football, your restrictions are a little different. Particularly with men's basketball, coaches are permitted to call prospective athletes as early as June 15 after their sophomore year. Make sure to check out the guide I mentioned above to review your specific restrictions for sophomores.
Countdown to junior year
Use this next year to rest up as everything will start to pick up immensely junior and senior year. Your overall job for the next nine months is to make the team and keep your grades up. If you're just starting to think about recruitment and missed out on the planning for freshman year, check out my last blog to make sure all of your bases are covered. You still have time, so don't feel like you're behind if you still have things to take care of!
Juniors, you're next. See you guys on October 16!