Now is the season for early decision and while everyone hopes for a positive decision the reality is that many different colleges can work very well for you.
Eric Hoover writes in a New York Times (Education Life section) article dated November 1, 2017
“The admissions process is a maddening mishmash of competing objectives, and an attempt to measure the unmeasurable: you. No, it isn’t fair, and likely never will be.”
Rower’s Edge can help recruited athletes navigate a different experience but the process is competitive because many qualified athletes are competing for limited spots.
There are many different levels of high school rowing teams across the country. Some teams have national reputations and are in the elite group of teams who are top finishers in regattas each season. Other teams are less developed, may draw from a much smaller population or are located in areas where rowing is less popular.
While college coaches will recognize the names of some teams, they may have no familiarity with the smaller or newer rowing teams. As a rower or coxswain, it is important for you to communicate both about yourself and your team when you are developing a relationship with a college coach. If you are a member of a less developed team, you should seek out any opportunity to further develop your rowing/coxing skills. Use the summer season to row/cox for another team. Joining a masters team is also a possibility if there is no junior team that is available to you. If you are a member of a masters team, explain how this came about to the college coach. This will give the coach a more complete picture of you and your motivation to improve your skills.
College coaches look at more than rowing stats when thinking about a potential recruit. They want to “know” as much about the rower/coxswain as possible to help them determine if the athlete will be a good match for the team. While rowing performance is of primary importance to a college rowing coach, recruits should understand that coaches will look beyond rowing in their decision making. Behavior on official visits can impact a coach’s determination about recruiting an individual athlete. Likewise, coaches will search social media to learn more about an athlete. Inappropriate social media posts can be detrimental to the recruiting of an athlete. Remember that everything you post is public and assume that it will be seen by the college coach with whom you are trying to build a relationship.
High school athletes who want to try to get recruited need to be proactive to “get on a coach’s radar”. Coaches are interested in fast erg scores, strong academics and good water performance. Individual schools and coaches have their own parameters for each of these categories and it is important for recruits to understand the specific standards for each program.
Beyond the “numbers”, coaches look for intangibles in their evaluation of potential recruits. These can include getting to know about the recruit’s character, intrinsic drive, attitude, and passion for rowing. Coaches want recruits who can will be able to handle unexpected and difficult situations, are willing to do what they need in order to progress, are willing to challenge themselves, are able to take constructive criticism and strive for excellence.
A very important factor in the process is that the recruit must “own” each step. Parents are obviously active participants, however, the student athlete must take charge and do the work at each step along the way. Just as parents cannot row the boat, so they should not do the recruiting work for their child. This is important from the college coach perspective since coaches want to communicate and develop a relationship directly with the recruit. Recruiting takes time and effort and the most successful recruits take ownership of each step including important strategic decisions along the way.
It is a given that parents want their high school athletes to succeed in everything they attempt. For a high school athlete the strain of competition both in the classroom and in athletics can be particularly stressful. While there is no way to relieve all of the stress for your high school athlete, there are some things to think about in an attempt to avoid creating more.
It is important to remember the messaging that you give when communicating with your high school athlete. The message of disappointment or lack of confidence can be particularly difficult since building confidence as well as skill are critical in athletics.
Recognition of a mistake by the student athlete is very important. Owning up to the mistake and figuring out how to learn from it is a way to improve for the future and avoid repetition. It can be difficult for parents not to “defend” their child’s action but stepping back is often the best course of action in the long run. Student athletes should communicate directly with their coaches about individual issues as well as any issues on the team and parents should steer clear of involvement in this area.
Student athletes need to be realistic about their abilities and try to improve while working within the team structure. It is expected that there will be frustrating practices and disappointing races. There will also be instances where athletes see coach treatment as unfair and there can be dramatic competition between members of the same team. This is the nature of a sport where athletes are competing for limited spots in a particular boat. Student athletes sometimes complain of lack of encouragement by a coach and may feel like the coach does not notice their hard work. Coaches in general know what is happening with each member of the team (even if they do not communicate this) and will certainly notice if there is a lack of motivation because of an unsatisfactory boating. Giving 100% at each practice is the best way to show individual potential and demonstrate commitment to the team.
Great article about Men’s rowing in terms of both funding and opportunities.
Rowing teams have different levels of performance both among divisions as well as within Division I, II, or III. Likewise, individual coaches have a wide range of expectations of their athletes based both upon their expertise as well as their determination about what works best for their individual team.
Some teams expect individuals to cross train throughout the year and may specify additional land workouts on a regular basis. Other teams may not expect additional workouts beyond practice time. Training while off campus during school breaks also varies widely. All coaches will want their athletes to stay in shape during vacation times so that when they return to campus, they do not have a lot of “catching up” to do.
Ask college coaches about their expectations when you are visiting college campuses and meeting with coaches. Do not hesitate to ask specific questions. The more you understand about the details of a program, the more prepared you will be when you join the team.
The erg score is very important. College coaches are interested not only in your PR but in the progression of your erg training. They may also want to see erg tests of different distances.
It is critical to prepare for each and every erg test since there may not be as many opportunities to erg test as you would like. It can be very difficult to erg test during racing seasons since coaches prioritize being on the water in the fall and spring. Winter is the best time to focus on the erg -depending on where you row and whether or not you can row on the water throughout the year.
Figure out what works best for you for the test:
Do you perform better in a familiar environment or in a big indoor erg event?
Does having a coxswain help you or does this create more stress or distraction?
Have you prepared a race plan and how able are you to stick to it?
What anxiety do you have about erging and how can you address this in anticipation of the test?
Do you have (or can you create) a pre-test routine that helps you?
Just as studying for an academic test is critical to good performance, so is “studying” for the erg test. Finally-while many of you may have a goal in mind when you take the test, take time to evaluate the experience regardless of the result. Be sure to learn from each test so that you can improve the next time.
Evaluating new SAT scores is difficult since the test is relatively new and some experts think more data is needed.
You have worked so hard in high school. Now is the time to maximize options for your college rowing career.
Photo Credit: Kawakahi Amina, D’09