Official visits are a great way to get an inside look at a rowing team as well as the life of a student athlete in college.

Just as there are many varieties and different “cultures” among academic institutions, there are just as many variations among rowing teams. It is important to look beyond the excitement of being on a college campus and consider whether the team seems like a good “match”. Watch how the coach interacts with the rowers and coxswains and how team members interact among themselves as well as the level of seriousness with which everyone approaches practice. Look at the university as a whole-both the academic offerings as well as student energy and enthusiasm for the school.

The official visit is a 2 way street-the recruit is trying to determine if the school and team are a good “match” at the same time the coach and team are trying to determine if the recruit will be a good addition to the team. Also-remember that an official visit is not an offer-it is rather the beginning of the next phase in the recruiting process.

The 2K is all important in the recruiting process since this is one of the ways in which college coaches evaluate a rower’s ability and potential. It is what we call the “SAT/ACT” for rowing.

College coaches often have a target 2K that they want to see and they will communicate this with potential recruits. This number can be daunting to a potential recruit depending on where you are in the process, how long you have been rowing and what year you are in high school. It is important to remember that there is a process for getting faster on the erg and it takes time and effort to drop time. Be sure to think about how you will approach your training and take the time necessary to properly train. It can be difficult to fit in erg training during racing season so many rowers plan to do 2K’s during non racing seasons. There is no particular time by which you need to have your PR 2k but the better the time, the more interest you will get from college coaches.

Also-depending on your individual circumstance, it can be beneficial to show college coaches your previous 2K’s so that they can see your progress.

The NCAA regulates many aspects of the recruiting process and allows for 5 official visits by a prospective recruit. See NCAA rules for more specifics. Official visits (OV) are a wonderful way to learn about a school and rowing program and get an “insider” view of a campus. They allow for class time as well as social time with the team and attending a practice. Many times, prospects also get individual time with a coach.

Official visits are a visit to campus which most commonly includes a weekday (so that you can attend classes) as well as an overnight. There is also some travel involved depending on the distance of the college from your home. Official visits are very exciting and also can be intense. We see OV’s as an extended “job interview” with the coach looking at the prospect at the same time as the prospect is evaluating the college and rowing team. Remember that OV’s occur during the fall of senior year in high school. This is a very busy time for high school athletes since they need to: keep up with the academic work, continue to train, work on college applications and possibly re-take the ACT or SAT and stay healthy.

We have worked with many prospects and strongly advise that they take a maximum of 3 OV’s. The addition of travel and time away from home to the intensity and stress of senior fall can take its toll. If you have done your homework, you should be able to have a list of 3-5 top schools during the summer before senior year with your aim being 3 OV’s. How prospects choose where to take OV’s is different for each student athlete-but includes an evaluation of their academic and rowing profile as well as the appeal of the individual school and rowing team.

College coaches look  beyond athletic ability when evaluating potential recruits to add to their roster.

The spring racing season is over for many high school rowers and coxswains. It is important to communicate with college coaches about your spring season races whether you won medals or were disappointed with your results. One of the most important things that coaches want to know is what you learned from the race.  Every race provides an opportunity for analysis useful for improvement.

Many of you have just finished racing at Youth Nationals. This is a very valuable experience since it is a high pressured regatta with fast boats in every event. Whether you won a medal or were less happy with your results, take the time to communicate with college coaches about your experience. Many college coaches attend the regatta and may have seen you in your race. Your communication after the regatta can be helpful in the coach getting to know you better as you move through the recruiting process.

Now is a great time to read about college teams and see their latest results. The collegiate spring racing season is finished with the exception of upcoming championship races. You should become familiar with all the spring races so that you get a complete picture of the college rowing “scene”.

Check out the great results from teams with new coaches.  If you love a school but the rowing program is not as strong as you would like, remember that coaches can change and a program can improve dramatically.

It can feel like “musical chairs” among college teams with some gaining a lot of speed and moving up in the rankings while others have less movement.  It is important to focus not just on the final results but what teams have done through the entire season since you want to learn not only what teams have done in the past-but where they are going in the future. Row2K is a great resource with both the news articles and race reports (see reports posted on May 20) as well as results for the entire season.

Everyone loves to win but 1st place is not always the place to learn the most from a race.

High school rowers and coxswains need to remember that they are in high school and should always be looking to learn from and improve for their next race and next season. College coaches want to know not only the race result but what was learned from the race. This can include everything from strategic miscalculations and management of equipment malfunctions to how other competitors actions affected your race. Your analysis will give the coaches a “window” into your ability to progress as a rower and coxswain. College coaches are most interested in athletes who will continue to improve through their college career. Your analysis of past results and how to improve going forward can be one of the many factors that college coaches consider to determine their interest in you as a potential future member of their team.

A positive attitude is very important throughout the rowing recruiting process and a negative attitude will be noticed by a college coach and may be cause for concern. Coaches are aware that one person’s attitude can influence others on the team-both positively and negatively. Be the person who will be a positive influence on others. It will serve you well.

Now is a great time to visit colleges and meet with rowing coaches. Parents may or may not be with you when you meet with coaches. Some coaches like to meet prospects with their parents while others want to meet the prospect alone. Coaches will be watching as you interact with your parents and many believe that the way you act towards your parents will be the same way that you may act towards them and towards the members of your team. We understand that there are times when you may be frustrated by your parents-but expressing this frustration in front of a college coach is not a good idea. Parents probably are not as familiar with rowing as you are and may ask questions that seem obvious to both you and the coach. It is important that through this process, your parents understand what is happening. Parents want to be part of their son’s or daughter’s search for a college that is a good match-so allow them get the information that they need.

To row on a Division I team takes time and commitment. All Division I teams work hard but college coaches who want to move up in the rankings are working their teams harder than ever. Rowers must stay fit which may mean training on their own in addition to team practice. It is important for high school rowers to understand what it means to row on a college team and the decision to pursue being recruited for a Division I team should not be taken lightly. Many high school rowers are already rowing for a serious high level team and rowing in college is the next logical step for them, while others may be unfamiliar with what it means to train seriously. For every new college rower, there is an adjustment period which happens during freshman year. Remember that you are entering a new environment, away from home which requires that you be more independent that in the past. Take freshman rowing seriously and stick with it through the adjustment period. By sophomore year, you will be in more familiar territory.