Playing Sports When You’re Not Recruited

Just because you weren't recruited doesn't mean you can't play

Just because the college recruiters aren’t beating down your door doesn’t mean your dreams of playing intercollegiate college sports are over. The majority of college athletes are not heavily recruited; instead, they have taken a proactive approach to keep playing the sport they love in college.

Whether you’re just finishing high school or transferring from a community college, the following steps can help you become a walk-on player in the sport you love and earn the designation of student-athlete:

Enlist the help of your current coach.

Let your coach know you want to keep playing at the college level. You’ll need to make yourself known to college coaches, and he or she may have connections with both players and coaches at a wide variety of schools. In addition, a letter of recommendation and support from a coach who’s already worked with you is always helpful.

Sell yourself.

If recruiting coaches are not coming to your games, bring your games to them. Identify the schools you’d like to play for, write letters to the coaches, and send videotaped footage of some of your best games to show them what you’re made of.

Arrange visits with college coaches.

Visit the schools and talk with the coaches to learn more about their programs and let them know you’re eager to play. Contact as many coaches as you can and don’t be shy: sometimes walk-ons and players who transfer from community colleges actually make up the bulk of a team.

Attend a summer showcase or college camp.

Many colleges and universities conduct camps in the summer that college coaches and their scouts attend to evaluate skills and scope out new talent (some of these camps even offer financial aid). The more chances you have to be seen by a coach, the better.

Be flexible.

While it’s not unheard of for players to walk on to elite sports programs such as Duke’s basketball team or Ohio State football, these programs recruit heavily, and the chances of others making the team are slim. It may be more realistic to target smaller schools, or less high-profile programs, if you really want to see some playing time.


This article was written by Paula Andruss

Paula Andruss is a Cincinnati-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in publications including Parents,, Marketing News, Crain's Chicago Business, and Cincinnati magazine.

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