The recruiting process is a waiting game. First, you’re waiting for the right time to contact coaches and seek exposure. Then, you’re waiting to hear back from coaches you’ve reached out to. You wait, wait, wait, exercising patience and then BOOM!
You are sitting at home when you hear that familiar ping. You jump up and check your ipad, phone or computer. It’s an email from a college coach! Only, it’s not one of the coaches you reached out to and you don’t really know anything about the school. They are interested in you and are hoping you can send them more information. You’ve been waiting all this time and all of a sudden the ball is in your court and you know nothing about the school. What should you do?
If you’ve read any of our Inside the Recruitment articles or Letter to My High School Self articles about players who have successfully navigated the recruiting process, you know that you should keep an open mind to all possibilities. With only about 12% of high school baseball players going on to play in college, any interest is good interest. With over 1,600 college baseball programs out there, there’s a good chance that some of the programs you’ve never heard of might actually be a great fit for you! It’s easy to get caught staring at the programs that are constantly in the news or have a well-known name, but it’s extremely important to take every inquiry you get seriously. You simply never know what you will find out. With that said, here are 5 things you should do if you hear from a new program you are not familiar with.
- Treat the inquiry seriously! Things can change quickly in the recruiting process and it’s great to have options, even if it is a backup option.
- Dust off the keyboard and do some serious research! Follow tips from our Investigating Programs Online. You’ll want to find out everything you can about the program, coaches, current players, level of play, and school in general. As we have discussed before, there is great baseball at every level of college baseball, and you shouldn’t judge a team by its division level or location. We debunk some of the non-D1 myths here. Remember, it’s more about finding a fit for YOU rather than playing for the team with the best track record or biggest name. Give each school a chance while you get more informed and do your best job researching them.
- Respond to the coach promptly! It’s best to reply to contact from a coach as quickly as you can while still taking time to respond properly and with attention to detail. There is no need to hurry to respond with a sloppy text or email, but time is important. Figure out if their email or text message had any calls to action. Did it ask you to fill out a recruit questionnaire? Did they ask for your transcripts or a game schedule? Answer accordingly and pay attention to details. You don’t want to come across as sloppy or rushed just because you are excited (or not-excited). Coaches often use calls to action in communication with recruits to determine if a player is interested and see if they can follow directions.
- Treat the coach with respect, no matter what level or school it is. Give the coach the time he deserves. After all, he took the time out to contact you. Beyond basic human decency and getting practice communicating with college coaches, there are many practical reasons you should maintain quality relationships with all coaches. The college baseball world is a tight knit community and opposing coaches talk frequently. You may not just be burning a bridge with one school by blowing them off. It’s also possible that the coach or a coach on his staff may end up changing schools at some point during your recruiting process. Your reputation will follow you with them and they may end up at a school of serious interest. The bottom line is, you never know what will happen.
- Finally, keep an open mind and see how things develop. Sometimes, the best fit for you is a school and program that you previously never considered, or possibly never heard of! Stranger things have happened. When you keep an open mind and do things the right way, anything is possible.
You now know what to do when you hear from Unheard of University. Good luck and get busy researching!