College Recruiting Corner: Five Factors in Building your Initial College Recruiting List

By: Tom Kovic


Laying the groundwork for a successful college recruiting effort is essential and developing operatives that will help you pinpoint important targets along the way is crucial to the momentum you build.

This article offers five factors to help integrate your initial college list and provide you with an organized approach as you begin navigating the college recruiting process.

MyKayla Skinner celebrates after performing on the balance beam for the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City/Utah Athletics

Gather Information

Building a college recruiting information base can begin as early as the ninth grade as a family hobby and increasingly grow into a highly organized, disciplined project moving through the senior year. Develop an awareness of college recruiting procedures by accessing the Guide for the College Bound Student-Athlete ( This is a great resource that will give you a clear snapshot of recruiting rules and eligibility.

Self-awareness is a powerful tool and growing an appreciation for what potentially appeals to you in a college experience is a great place to start. Meet as a family and begin to identify “college descriptors” that include level of athleticism, geographic location, population (urban, rural, college town) and size of the undergraduate population.  

Academic Ranking

Look carefully at the quality of education different colleges and universities offer. US News and World Report is a great resource that annually ranks college institutions. You want to strive to make “impact” with the college athletic experience, but always remember that the academic piece will last a lifetime.

Maintain individual e-files on your favorite college programs and remain attentive to your academic areas of interest. You may not identify with an exact college major now but begin to cultivate an academic direction you lean toward.

Athletic Match

Take time to investigate team statistics and rankings, along with coach profiles and mission statements in an effort to “match” with college sports programs. Encourage your club coach to offer a fair and realistic athletic skill evaluation. Establish your current point of reference as a prospect and identify clear targets to reach your ultimate goal.

If you are a blue-chip prospect you will probably not have many hurdles to cross in the recruiting process. Conversely, if you are a second tier prospect, you will likely be grouped into a larger and more competitive file of prospects. You will simply need to work harder, prepare better and execute your recruiting effort with more passion if you want to leap ahead of the pack.


Location of a college or university, despite the quality of the academic experience or the sports program, plays its part as well. You need to determine your comfort level as to how far you are willing to travel from home to enjoy a productive college experience.

Imagine committing to your top college choice that also happens to be on the other side of the country. It may be exciting at first, but unless you have an adaptive nature that can blend easily with new environments, you may experience turbulence or homesickness.

Determine early in the recruiting process the level of support you can expect when transitioning from high school to college. Trust me, first semester freshman year will likely be your most challenging.


Not only do you want to align with a college because of the academic and athletic opportunities it offers, you want to get a feel for the general social flavor the institution extends.

This is where you reach for your common sense when speaking with coaches, student-athletes, and alumni. Ask pertinent questions about their experiences as part of the institution and the community and listen carefully to the replies. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions that will assist you in determining the general cultural tone of the institution.

Building your initial college list should be intentional and well-researched. Identify clear operatives that are important to your vision of a great student-athlete experience. Grow your college list not just by what you hear, but by what you know and offer sound reasons why you are pursuing a specific institution. This will create confidence, traction, and momentum as you begin the beginning phase of a life-changing experience.


Tom Kovic is a former 19-year college gymnastics coach at The University of Pennsylvania and President of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families and prospects in navigating the college search.


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Copyright © 2018  Victory Collegiate Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

College Recruiting Corner: The Injured Prospect- Effective Communication with College Coaches

By: Tom Kovic


Injury is an inherent part of any athletic endeavor and no one understands this better than college coaches. There are many prospective student-athletes and families who hedge when bringing up the topic of injury as part of the college process with fear that a coach will see this as a weakness and therefore diminish college athletic recruiting opportunities.

Coaches constantly look for accurate and honest information from prospective student-athletes and in the case of the injured prospect, the manner they effectively communicate their status with college coaches is crucial.

Sports injuries occur on various levels and like it or not it “comes with the territory.” Acute injuries occur suddenly when training. Chronic injuries, on the other hand, result in prolonged training over many years. If an athlete aspires to compete at the highest level, sprains, strains, bangs, and dings will, unfortunately, factor into the athletic quest equation.

A lot of families see an injury as a potential recruiting roadblock and something they do not feel comfortable sharing. They fear that the injury could be interpreted as a “red flag” that could jeopardize their sons or daughters position on the active collegiate athletic recruiting chart. This, in most cases, is far from accurate.

College coaches are charged by their sports administration to drive their programs to high levels, year in and year out. Their path to success is a simple formula for combining sound planning with the right athletes while engaging in effective, high-level training. A team is as strong as its weakest link and each year college coaches must run their team at the highest level while sidestepping major injury.

This is a daunting task and families who realize that the injury rate for college athletes occurs at a higher rate compared to high school and club sports participants, will soon reach a comfort level when taking an honest and proactive approach to communicating their position.

An important objective of the college athletic recruiting process is to offer coaches every opportunity to evaluate the prospect. Basically, college coaches build an information base with prospects on three levels: 1) athleticism, 2) academic performance, and 3) character.

Utilizing unique tools in your recruiting arsenal to help separate yourself from the rest of the pack sometimes takes courage. An injury is something none of us want to experience but sharing this information with the coaches gives you the opportunity to present yourself as an honest broker and gives you a chance to tell your distinctive story.

Prospective student-athletes and families should always look for “personal filters” when navigating the college recruiting search. Impactful and unique characteristics that help distinguish one prospect from the next is a critical evaluation tactic each college coach uses and assisting coach in the process will help you garner respect.

Injury is a natural consequence of high-intensity physical activity and coaches desperately want to help their athletes recover and return to active participation safely and quickly. They look to ones “call to action” and the dedicated effort to return to full strength as a measure of their character.

You can attempt to hide your injury and make every effort to deflect communication to different areas of recruiting, or you can take the high road and make an honest effort in being candid with college coaches.

Coaches have an innate ability to get to what is “real” about every student-athlete they recruit and determine how they are doing (academically, athletically and personally). Eventually, they will find a way to extract information…you can bet the farm on it.

Prospects who present themselves at face value to college coaches accomplish two important things. 1) They convince coaches that they embrace an honest approach and 2) uncover grey areas of evaluation that could be a game-changer at the end of the collegiate recruiting process.

College recruiting is both exciting and daunting. It requires a disciplined, dedicated and honest approach, especially when it pertains to the physical health of the prospect. Practicing clear, honest, and accurate communication with college coaches to the nature of your injury and the treatment you are pursuing will reap respect and help build mutually strong and respectful relationships with college coaches to identify and secure the ideal college match.

Tom Kovic is a former Division I college coach and Principal Advisor at Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families in navigating the college recruiting process. For further information visit:


Copyright © 2018 Victory Collegiate Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

College Recruiting Corner: 100 Days to Maximize your College Athletic Recruiting Effort

By: Tom Kovic



With summer on the horizon and the end of the academic year fast approaching, high school prospects have every opportunity to get a well-deserved breather. Taking time to relax a little after a demanding school year and a rigorous training schedule creates “new life”.

The summer offers prospective student-athletes a chance to organize and utilize specific recruiting tactics to grow awareness and momentum in your college recruiting effort. The prospect that looks at the next 100 days as an opportunity to maximize the college recruiting process will be positioned well.

Maggie Nichols performs on the floor exercise for the Oklahoma Sooners at the 2017 NCAA Womens’s Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis/FloGymnastics


Begin by identifying goals you want to accomplish during the summer. I suggest you break these down into five key areas: Athletic, academic, evaluation, campus visits and communication.

Athletic: Every passionate and driven athlete has the “next step” lined up. Make every effort to grow your skill at your position to the highest level and never relent. Whether they are sport specific skills, core conditioning or enhanced mental imagery, these goals should be backed up with a diligent plan of action that should be shared with the college coaches. Don’t be afraid to put yourself on the line but be prepared to follow-up with regular progress reports! College coaches will expect nothing less.

Academic: School may be out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sharpen your academic tools! Remember, standardized testing and core classroom performance are the most significant factors in meeting the NCAA freshman eligibility standards and determining your “likelihood” in college admissions.

You likely know your upcoming fall class schedule and you should be able to access the syllabus for each course you plan to take. Familiarize yourself with your upcoming academic challenges and you will hit the ground running in the fall.

In addition, half the battle with standardized testing is “test strategy.” Bone up on testing procedures and take advantage of complimentary online testing tools. If you plan to test during the summer or early fall, engage a tutor.

Evaluations: You have access to critical information that will be helpful to your cause in the college search. 1) Provide the college coaches with your tournament and showcase summer schedule and invite them to observe you compete. 2) Regularly provide college coaches with highlight video updates that are significant and demonstrate progress. 3) Forward your updated high school transcripts and test scores to the coaches. 4) Have your high school or club coach speak directly to the college coaches on your behalf.

Think of evaluations as progress reports that can be updated regularly. But remember, college coaches are looking for “significant progress.” Spread the updates out to the coaches every 3-4 weeks and be sure this information has “grip.”

Campus Visits: If you are serious about a specific group of colleges on your list, there is no better time for a casual visit to campus than the summer. These visits might not have the same feel and energy as a fall visit when school is in session, but if they are well-planned, you can walk away feeling well-informed and more confident.

Summertime is an ideal time to connect with college coaches on campus, but don’t just show up and count on a chance meeting. E-mail the coach two weeks out and convey your tentative visit plans and let him or her know you and your family would be excited to meet with them and inquire about the program. Let coaches know you will follow-up by phone to confirm the office visit. Remember, in most cases, college coaches are not permitted to return phone calls, so remain persistent!

Communication: I am a firm believer that when cultivated, effective communications skills can position a prospect best in the eyes of college coaches. The recruiting process is very competitive and realizing that invaluable opportunities to stand above the rest of the recruiting pack are within your grasp. It just requires a little courage and effort.

Communication is a broad term, but when whittled down to its basic components it becomes less complicated. Simply remember to:

  1. Be proactive in every area of communication (email, phone calls, etc.) and remember that for the most part, coaches are bound to strict NCAA contact rules.
  2. Remain clear and crisp with your updates and recaps. Continue to be persistent. The coaches want you to initiate contact!
  3. If your communication requires either a voice to voice of face to face element, prepare well, practice to a fault and leave nothing to chance.

The summer presents us with the opportunity to use every day to maximize the college search for athletes. Develop a positive “sense of urgency” in your effort to plan and organize best to grow your skill as an athlete and share your accomplishments with the college coaches on your list. 100 days may seem like a lot of time to reach your goals, but as we all know, time flies when you’re having a good time!

Tom Kovic is a former Division I college coach and Founder/Lead Advisor at Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he advises prospects and families on college recruiting. Tom is the author of “Reaching for Excellence” An educational guide for college athletics recruiting. For more information visit:


Copyright © 2018  Victory Collegiate Consulting. All Rights Reserved

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