College Recruiting

College Recruiting: Managing your time as a student-athlete + narrowing down your list of schools

Previously: Intro || The recruiting timeline + what to consider || What do coaches look at? || Contacting coaches, pt. 1 ||  Contacting coaches, pt. 2 || Contacting coaches, pt. 3 || Contacting coaches, pt. 4 || Highlight videos + the worst recruiting emails || Official/unofficial visits + recruiting rules recap || When scholarships aren’t an option

Time management is a skill that, luckily, rowing teaches us early on in our careers. Managing your time in high school is a lot different than managing it in college because you go from having a very structured schedule to an abundance of free time and no structure. Whatever structure there is is there because you created it. Knowing how much time you want to spend rowing (and all that that entails) ahead of time can go a long way in helping you keep your head above water once you get into the grind of classes. D1/D2 is obviously going to take up a larger chunk of time than a D3/club program so that’s something to keep in mind as you look at schools and consider how capable you are/need to be at regulating yourself accordingly.

To give you an idea of the time commitment, the NCAA limits the number of hours you can practice per week at 20 when you’re in-season with no more than four hours per day and at least one day off per week. We – a D1 men’s team – are usually around 15ish with 7-8 rows and two lifts per week (which is on the lower side for the Sprints league). To keep track of this, there are time sheets that the captains sign off on that indicate how many hours we practiced that gets turned into the compliance office at regular intervals. Our “off-season” (winter training) starts today so we’re down to eight hour  weeks until sometime in late February-ish, which means that the only mandatory practice time is our 90 minute erg/tank sessions on M-F mornings. Our lifts, which were previously mandatory, are now “on your own” and there’s more responsibility on the guys to get a second workout in on their own time to make up for not having a second row or Saturday practices. All of this is done on top of an incredibly rigorous course load, going to regular office hours, part-time jobs, UROPs (undergrad research), flying all over the country for job interviews, etc.

One of the biggest challenges in managing your time is being disciplined enough to take advantage of little opportunities, like breaks between classes or, if you’re a coxswain, land workouts where there’s not much coxing to be done, in order to get some reading done, start homework, etc. Your schedule will ebb and flow a lot more too than it did in high school so there will be times when everything is manageable and pretty low-key, other times you’ll have “hell weeks” where you’ll be pulling your hair out as you try to balance your responsibilities with the team and your responsibilities as a student. There’s no sense in pretending that doesn’t happen either or assuming that because no one mentioned it during the campus tours that no one at that school has to worry about it. You quickly learn that, for better or worse, all the “free time” you have isn’t actually free time if you want to stay on top of everything.

Transitioning now to narrowing down your list of schools, one of the most important rules of this whole process is to not tell (or think you have to tell) multiple schools that they’re your #1 choice because, as I’ve said many times already, coaches talk and word can/will quickly get around that you’re just fishing to see who takes the bait. If it’s early in the process and you don’t know where certain schools stand or which one is your favorite, don’t say “I don’t know” or be non-commital if the coaches ask … just say that “it’s still early in the process, I’m still researching places, etc.”. Obviously if it’s later on and you kinda need to be ranking your schools, you need to have a better answer than that so if you’re still struggling to determine where schools fall, say something like “I’ve narrowed down my top two to Dartmouth and Penn but am having a tough time naming a true #1 because I could see myself being a part of both schools/programs.” If that’s the case in your situation, many of the coaches all said that your ultimate decision must be based on the school, social scene, and the community at large because rowing is just rowing and it isn’t/shouldn’t be what makes or breaks your college experience. You will be a lot happier choosing a place based on how you feel as a potential member of the community vs. choosing a school based on who tells you your’e the best (which is the trap people fall into with recruiting).

Next week: Coaches interest and being recruited from small programs

Image via // @washingtonrowing

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