Archive for Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Recruiting expert counsels Mill Valley athletics community

August 21, 2012, 10:10 a.m.

Updated: August 29, 2012, 12:00 a.m.

Jack Renkens always has perfect examples of poor recruitment strategies strewn throughout the audience. As an expert in that category, he isn’t afraid to point at acquaintances during his speeches and confront their follies.

To the coaches, he points and asks how many coaches they know in another state. Maybe one or two, maximum. To the parents, he provides a list of 11 “Positive Sports Parenting” guidelines. To the students, he provides haunting facts.

After Renkens, a keynote recruitment speaker who travels the nation, spoke last Wednesday at Mill Valley High School, a father and son approached him.

“Everything you said, we did wrong,” the father told him.

But by the looks of the full auditorium, everyone was in the same boat. This recruiting game, as Renkens calls it, is lost on many.

Renkens spoke for about an hour on strategies and mistakes most parents and students make while looking for colleges, most content coming from his website and book, “Recruiting Realities.”

“They have got to understand that they don’t pick the school,” he said. “The school is going to pick them. You don’t want to leave the state, well you don’t want to play.”

There was a mix of hope and futility in Renkens’ words, but the facts were enlightening nonetheless. The bad news for most athletes: If college coaches haven’t called by sophomore year, you probably aren’t on their radar, which is the main problem for most athletes. The good news: There is most likely a college that will fully fund you. You just haven’t heard of it.

Renkens mentioned a handful of colleges that no one had recognized and said that some with tuition upward of $40,000 would fully fund athletes who weren’t Division I caliber. The problem is that students keep in mind a list of about 10 schools when they should be open to all that are interested. According to “Recruiting Realities,” 83 percent of college athletic opportunities are not Division I.

Mill Valley coaches and athletes had a good showing at the event, and football coach Joel Applebee was glad to have an expert reiterate the program’s stance on recruiting.

“Hearing it from a different perspective is a good thing,” he said. “There are some more things we can probably add from this tonight, there’s no doubt. But I think we do a lot of it already as well. ”

Senior lineman Knute Holden had an early lead on his recruiting venture. He joined NCSA, one of the premier recruiting networks in the country, as a freshman.

“Everything is so much more real now that I’m getting older,” he said. “I think it’s good for the younger kids to be here because I got into the recruiting process my freshman year, so they get a jump-start on it.”

But even the best-equipped recruits in the crowd took something away from Renkens. As he went around the room asking athletes how many schools had contacted them, the highest number was 10. Renkens hears those numbers all the time. And it saddens him every time.

“That isn’t going to work,” he said after his speech. “You’ve got to be involved with hundreds. Hundreds.”

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