Mrs. Carolyn Duchars will be writing a series of recruiting blogs for anyone that is looking for a parents perspective on recruiting. College recruiting can be a daunting process and we are so thrilled to have a parents view point on the process. Carolyn does not consider herself an expert in recruiting, as her experience is solely with her own daughter, but she is happy to help parents with any questions they may have! Feel free to check back periodically to see her most recent blog!
Recruiting 101-Where Do I Start?
Author - Carolyn Duchars (Mother of Gateway 2020)
So your daughter wants to play field hockey in college. Great! There are numerous options ranging from club to top tier Division I programs so there is a place for everyone. I was in your shoes very recently and, while I am no expert, there are some pointers and tips that I have gathered along the way that you may find useful on your journey. The first piece of advice is to BE REALISTIC. Of course, we all think our daughters are amazing (and they are!) so it is hard to be objective and realistic about what type of program might be the best fit for her. One place to start is the website of the team of a school you are considering. On every team’s website is a roster with mini-biographies of each team member. Compare the accomplishments of the team members with the activities your daughter has been involved in. Having numerous accolades as a high schooler does not guarantee playing time in college just like not having as many as the current players doesn’t mean you could never play there; however, the mini-biographies give you a general picture of the playing level of the team and what types of players the coaches are recruiting.
Another good resource is your high school or club coach, especially if she played college field hockey in the division you are considering. The coaches have seen many players from all skill levels and know which girls have gone on to play collegiate hockey and what it takes both mentally and physically. Ask your coach for an honest, objective analysis and be prepared for what they tell you. If they do not think your daughter is at the level for the types of schools you are considering, that doesn’t mean that she will never be. It just might take more work to improve her skills. In the meantime, exploring other options would be a prudent step.
Skills and ability are important but the desire and mental preparedness are just as vital. For many Division I schools, the training/practice schedules are intense. It’s like having a full time job on top of the schoolwork. And it’s not just the practices to consider; there is also travel to and from games which requires missing school. The farther the schools in the conference you are looking at are from each other, the more time is spent on the road. Does your daughter have the self-motivation to stay on top of her schoolwork and the advocacy skills to work with professors when a class is missed due to hockey? Hard work is not limited to DI schools. Find out what type of time commitment is expected from the programs you are considering and realistically decide if your daughter wants that type of commitment. Some girls may want to eat, sleep, and breathe hockey but others may want to continue playing just for fun in a more noncompetitive setting like a club team. There is no one best option.
Being realistic about what types of programs would be a good fit for your daughter will help you focus your college search and guide you to the types of camps and clinics she may want to consider. If there is a school that your daughter absolutely loves but may be a reach athletically, by all means, go for it. Just be sure that you are not limiting your options and be willing to look at a variety of other programs. While it is never too early to think about future plans, realistically, college coaches are predominantly looking at freshmen to juniors (U16 mainly but it depends on the school/division). That doesn’t mean some coaches aren’t looking at other groups because they are, just maybe not to the same degree. So don’t be discouraged if you are in eighth or ninth grade and have not had any coach interest and don’t compare your daughter’s experience to someone else’s. Everyone is unique and at different points on the journey. Basically, don’t let the recruiting process make you crazy! Remember this is a sport and playing is supposed to be fun!