Parent Involvement In Track and Field Recruiting

Brooke Rasnick
5 min readMay 2, 2023

--

By: Brooke Rasnick — Elevate Athletic Recruiting

Photo by Wei Zeng on Unsplash

“So coach, how am I doing?”

Look of confusion.

“How good are my questions compared to other parents?”

This conversation occured while walking through campus during a recruit’s unofficial visit.

The dad wanted me to rate ‘his’ performance.

It wasn’t posed in a ‘How can I be more helpful to my daughter?’ type of way. It was more of him wanting me to stroke his ego that he knew what he was doing.

I was too inexperienced to respond in any other way than to give him a vote of confidence and move on. But was mindful enough to make a mental note documenting the red flag. Dad seemed much more concerned about himself than finding the best fit for his daughter.

In my new role as a recruiting educator and consultant, I’m consistently asked how involved parents should be in the recruiting process.

This is a tough question to answer because every family dynamic is different, not all parents’ sanity levels are created equal, and college coaches don’t all have similar perspectives on how included they want parents to be.

I asked a college coach their thoughts on addressing this topic. The coach’s light-hearted response, “Tell the parents you’ll spend 10 minutes interviewing them and then let them know if they should be involved or not.”

In short, parents can be a positive or a negative.

This article will give you insights on the importance of athlete’s displaying ownership in finding their best college fit, how college coaches evaluate parents and healthy ways parents can be involved in their child’s recruiting process to enhance their opportunities.

ATHLETE OWNERSHIP IS VITAL

Let me be clear about the most important aspect as this question.

The athlete absolutely needs to have ownership in the recruiting process and their athletic and academic career.

Any emails sent out to coaches to initiate the recruiting process should be from the athlete, the first 2–3 calls should be with the athlete only unless requested otherwise, and the athletes should be responsible for sending in required documentation (transcripts/questionnaires/etc.) and scheduling visits with coaches.

We understand parents’ schedules play into visits if they are planning to attend, but the athlete should not just hand off the organizational aspect to the parent to work out with the coach.

This is their journey. You can help them organize behind the scenes and provide education to help them navigate the process, but they need to be the main communicator with the coaches.

Parents can impact a recruit’s opportunities. There are two main scenarios that give us confidence in an athlete’s ability to thrive in college in relation to their parents/guardians:

  • Athletes that have faced adversity at home and have overcome hardship.
  • Athletes that have reasonable parents.

TRAITS OF REASONABLE PARENTS

Understand that coaches are evaluating parents just as intensely as the athletes. Below are the traits parents display that can improve athletes’ opportunities.

Reasonable parents:

  • Value their child’s health and happiness over performance
  • Foster healthy independence and personal accountability
  • Understand the value of their child pursuing their passions
  • Own self-worth isn’t connected to their child’s competitive accomplishments
  • Have a realistic view of their child’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Have a basic understanding of the recruiting process and expectations of being a collegiate athlete
  • Are respectful in interactions with staff and current college athletes
  • Don’t make the recruiting process about themselves
  • Understand its a privilege for all of us involved in track and field/xc to have opportunities at the college level (we are a non-revenue sport, but the access and growth our sport gives student-athletes is extremely positive for them and our campus community)

We don’t expect parents to be perfect. Just know, when interactions contradict the traits listed above, it is a red flag.

When parents show their reasonability, coaches are more confident in an athletes ability to transtion successfully to college and have the tools and support system necessary reach their goals.

POSITIVE WAYS FOR PARENTS TO BE INVOLVED

If you’re on board with the statements above, coaches value the support system you provide. It is an asset.

Here are positive ways to be involved and display your ‘reasonability’:

  • Be kind to coaches who are at a competition recruiting your athlete. Introduce yourself if you haven’t met. Thank them for taking the time to be there. College coaches are typically easier to spot than specific parents. It’s okay and welcomed for you to make the first move.
  • If a college coach wants to do a joint call with the athlete and parents, make time to do so. Don’t be afraid to ask legitimate questions you have.
  • If a coach asks to come visit an athlete in their hometown, they typically want you to be there. If they are only visiting them at their school then they may prefer to just interact with the athlete and high school staff. Have your athlete ask for clarification if you are unsure how involved you should be.
  • Attend campus visits if it’s feasible. Make sure you allow space for the athlete to answer questions and don’t speak for them. Keep the visit about them but have your questions answered as well. If you leave campus and other questions you have as a parent arise, you can email, text or call the coach afterwards.
  • Have a clear understanding of any scholarship money offered and the financial picture of each school. If a scholarship is offered without your involvement, know it’s okay to call the coach and ask questions. You can also negotiate on behalf of your student. That is typical. Just make sure you have the leverage to do so.
Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

As a parent of a high school track and field recruit, you can best aid your child by:

  1. Promoting athlete ownership
  2. Having a reasonable perspective
  3. Involving yourself in healthy ways

For more content on the track and field/cross country recruiting process head to www.elevateathleticrecruiting.com. Create a profile to receive a free recruiting newsletter.

Follow Brooke Rasnick on Twitter (@coachdemo) and Instagram (@brookerasnick) for recruiting tips.

--

--