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Club Ball - College recruiting process for athletes swings toward clubs

By Bill Wells | Published on: 2012 | Source: The Republican

I wrote a high school column last week on how some parents believe there is some sort of connection between information in the newspaper and a high school athlete being recruited to play sports in college.

That would be an incorrect belief.

Granted, I’m on the inside and know how things work. A high school kid being recruited based on a story or some stats in the newspaper? Come on, gang, think about it.

But what really puzzles me about this topic is how at least some parents aren’t seeing what is so clearly standing front and center.

The landscape of sports at the high school level has changed dramatically from a generation ago. It’s not quite night and day, but there is a massive difference.

For most sports, when it comes to high school athletes being recruited, the club teams carry much more weight than high school teams. I’m not saying high school sports aren’t important. In fact, I’ll say that athletically and socially, there’s nothing like playing for a high school team.

However, in regards to being recruited to play in college, the clubs trump most high school sports.

Boys gymnastics in the region has disappeared at the high school level, and girls gymnastics is on life support, with clubs clearly taking over. Not all, but many of the top hockey players play club instead of for their high school team. Ditto for tennis and downhill skiing.

In other team sports, like basketball, soccer and field hockey, the athletes are certainly being predominantly recruited out of their club, not high school. Clubs are starting to pop up for wrestling, and many of the elite local swimmers compete for their clubs as part of the USA Swimming organization. In baseball and softball, showcase events in the winter, summer and fall – not the spring – have caught fire.

College coaches have a hard time getting out to watch high school games because the seasons coincide. Also, for a college coach to go out and watch just one potential recruit isn’t a constructive use of time unless that recruit comes highly recommended.

The club seasons usually aren’t at the same time as the college season, so college coaches have the opportunity to get to club events, like day-long tournaments. Also, the club teams are usually loaded with top-notch athletes looking to play in college, so a college coach can see multiple potential recruits at the same time.

Lastly, college coaches love to go to events like the Bay State Games and showcases. Again, they can see more high-level athletes all in one shot.

The above examples are rarely offered through a high school event. And, for whatever reason, the college coaches and club coaches seem to be more in touch with each other.

My daughter is a goalie for field hockey. She’s already played in a tournament in front of the entire Bryant University coaching staff on campus, at Smith College in front of the head coach, she was coached by the head coach at Western New EnglandUniversity over the winter and spring, and she was coached over the summer by the head coach at Southern Connecticut State University. She’s also played at the Nutmeg Games, which is the equivalent to the Bay State Games.

In the spring and summer of 2012, if things go as I think they will, my daughter will be playing for a coach who was a two-time Division I All-American in college, and my gut tells me she will again be surrounded by current college coaches. She hopes to qualify for a national event this summer, and she also plans to play in the Bay State Games. At both venues there will undoubtedly be college coaches.

My daughter is 13. I believe she’s already had more college eyes on her because of her clubs than she ever will while she plays for her high school team. Again, that’s not a knock on the high schools, but that’s just the way it is now.

For high school-aged athletes, when it comes to being recruited to play sports in college, the landscape has changed from a generation ago, and for most sports, that landscape now has club sports in the forefront and high school sports in the background.

Link to Article: Club Ball - College recruiting process for athletes swings toward clubs