Fall Signing Week '13: Role of the Parent in Recruiting
by Marcia Frost, 12 November 2013
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As a parent, you want to be a part of all of your child's decisions, and which college your child will attend is one of the most important that will ever be made. The decision becomes even more complicated when your child is trying to pick a school to attend with a tennis team that's also a perfect fit.
How involved should a parent be in the tennis recruiting process? Not as much as many would like. Let's be blunt here - who is going to be going to the school, practicing with the team and playing matches, while taking classes? Obviously, it's the student.
The role of parents when it comes to the recruiting process needs to be more that of an advisor than an instructor. You need to step back a bit and realize that your child has earned the right to make the final choice in this very big decision. It's your job to provide the guidance, financial information and input. It's also a parent's job to give a little push for independence in this matter.
If you ask a coach what the least favorite letters are to receive, he's usually going to answer that it's introductory letters from parents. A coach does not want to read a parent's words about how much their child loves the school and wants to play on the team. That initial contact must always come from the player. (And, for those who have written the letters and signed your child's name, you're not fooling anyone.)
Contact is step one in the recruiting process and if a player can't handle that initial step on their own, how is a coach going to believe they can handle being a student at a university and honor their commitments to the team?
Parents should start their children in the recruiting process with encouragement. There is nothing wrong with discussing possible schools and even giving them a little push by getting contact information for those schools, if necessary. If your child asks for help in writing initial letters to coaches, by all means, help. Just make sure that the words on the paper are coming from your child and not from you.
After contact is made with a college coach and mutual interest is shown, parents can feel free to start an open dialogue - by email, in person or by phone - with coaches. It can be beneficial to the coach to find out more about the student that they may not be comfortable revealing themselves, such as a learning disability or a physical ailment. You should never do this, however, without letting your child know what you have and have not told the coach.
As the process moves further along and visits begin, you may want to take your child on some unofficial visits. That's perfectly natural, but make sure you give your child some breathing room to check out the aspects of the college he or she is most interested in, whether it's the curriculum or the cafeteria.