So,heisin the thick of rehab and right smack in the middle of a losing season. As a player you are questioning everything,“What if I hadn’t gone to practice that day?”“Why did this have to happen?” “My role has changed, I used to be a team leader nowI’min treatment while the team is practicing, or meeting, or bonding.”“Who am I?”. Well mom,your role has changed as well. What do I do when I’m not hisbiggestcheerleader? How do I support him from miles away? What if he gets sad? What if he wants to quit? Who am I when I’m not at games? WHO AM I aside from JESHAUN’S mom????
Ah yes, your whole identity has been wrapped up in football and being a football mom and watchingfootball, andkeeping track of records and stats and coaching changes andpersonnel changes(phew). Well,now what? Wellyou still get to do all of that, now it’s a little different. Inaddition,you have much more time for other things,now that you don’t havethe guilt of missing a game. Saturdays are now getting to chat about the game with your son in real time and ask questions and better understand the play calling (we all question the play calling from our couch, am I right??) But even better yet, you get to explore your own interests. As for me, I have been traveling. I went to FRANCE! By MYSELF! Honestlythe wholetime I was just wishing my son was with me. I wanted so badly for him to experience the beauty of that place. But it was my time. He will have his chance. This is about you, mom. All.About.You. I had to constantly combat this misplaced guilt I kept running in my head. I couldn’t figure out why or where it was coming from. But it’s ingrained as a mom. The mantra of “my kid comes first” does not gowell with doing something solely for your own enjoyment with no regard for anyone else.So,I had to constantly check–in with myself and remindmyselfI had earned this. This is what we worked for. Not only him going away to school to play football but YOU, beingable to live your dreams as well.YOU DESERVE IT!!I was still a spaz when my hostel couldn’t get the game on (picture the American girl throwing a fit for American football).
With that being said, don’tbe afraid to reinvent yourself as many times as it takes to be who you want to be. You can still support your son while living your best life. In fact, it makes him happy and down right proud to see you living the life of your dreams. He will have highs and lows and you will be there to support him, and you will give the best advice and most importantly he will get through this. He will be so much stronger, mature, resilient and all the characteristics you could never teach but had to be learned through experience. As much as you want to save them,you must let them grow through it. Soon he will be running routes again, catching passes and back to normal and this whole injury will be but a small, but life changing “blip” on the radar of his career. But remember mom, you cannot pour from an empty cup. So, get out there and fill your cup by living and doing what makes your soul happy. I promise your son wouldn’t want it any other way.
Everything you talk about when sending your kid away to school. The: “Worst case scenario, I can be on a plane and there in X number of hours”. He got hurt. Tore his ACL.
Yep, a major injury and I wasn’t there. I had to listen to him cry over the phone. I had to hear those dreaded words: “I wanna’ come home Ma”. And although all you want to do is run and rescue them, you can’t. You HAVE TO stay strong and think logically. Don’t panic. He’s panicking. His whole career is flashing before his eyes. He’s watching the “2 guy” take reps. He’s watching new recruits commit. This… this is a crash course in maturity. There is plenty of support around him and he is in the best place possible considering the circumstances. Now, you wait. You wait for the surgery to be scheduled. THIS. IS. TORTURE. He’s alone, he’s hurt and there is NOTHING you can do. Keep breathing. You have to hold it together. He’s going to need you for the surgery and the days after.
He will be surrounded by teammates and staff all there to hold up their end of the: “We’ll take care of him like one of our own” deal, they sold you during recruiting. Now you get to see what they’re really made of. Some of his teammates will be going through the same injury or different injuries and he’ll have people to lean on literally and figuratively. I advise you both schedule a time to talk to the sports psychologist on staff as soon as you can. This will help to put some perspective on things and give you both some coping skills.
Surgery Day will be tense for everyone. In our case, it was his first surgery ever. So, we were all very nervous and afraid of the unknown. Mom, you are the rock. Stay Calm. You get to test out your acting ability by putting on a brave face even though you both are scared to death. He’s going to be fine. If you’re like me you have thoroughly researched the doctor, the facility, his family, his life…. Seriously. I watched every YouTube video, read every study he published, and read every review. I knew so much by the time it came to the surgery I was finishing the doctor’s sentences. If I couldn’t control what was going on, I was going to arm myself with as much knowledge as possible. This proved helpful after surgery when he had questions, I was able to answer with facts of which the doctor backed up as well.
Post-Surgery is where he will need you the most. He will be immobile and sore. You get to take care of him again. Oh, how I missed him needing me. I secretly looked forward to getting to spend time with him. The first day or two were up and down. Days were good, nights were rough as he had to sleep in a brace, elevated, with ice. But days were chill. We watched a lot of TV and it was almost like old times. But it was so pitiful to watch your larger than life athlete be so helpless. Same for him, suddenly becoming so dependent on teammates. Although you both may question why this happened, it will all make sense one day. Remember, there are lessons in everything. He gets to learn how to ask for help, how to be gracious and appreciative, and finally, a greater appreciation for his abilities. Sit back and watch him grow, Momma.
Pay to play comes up quite often. There was story a few years ago about an athlete claiming he was starving in the dorms as they had no access to food after the cafeteria closed and weren’t able to work a side job because of school and athletic commitments. This is a mom’s worst nightmare (Your son far away and hungry. Ugh, rip my heart out). So what exactly do you get with your scholarship? Your housing, meals, medical treatment and meds (on campus), classes, books, equipment, team gear, and team travel are all included in your scholarship. Although medical treatments and medications are included you need to continue to pay your health insurance premiums. You will include your insurance information in your medical paperwork for the athletic trainers.
Do you need to apply like a traditional scholarship? YES andNO. You don’t apply in the traditional sense. If a school (coach) is “Offering” you, then he has already made sure your grades and credits meet the requirements and your athletic ability is worth the investment. He’s probably already requested your transcripts and attendance records. Even though you accepted the offer and committed they will still pull a final official transcript and official test scores. Once you commit and sign you will have to fill out what is called a “common application”. This is a basic fill-in-the-blanks of all your info and has a brief essay portion. Your enrollment is not based on this application. However, you still have time to blow it by failing a core class or not finishing senior year strong. This common application is a formality that every student has to do whether on scholarship or not. Furthermore there will also be an initial physical performed by the athletic training staff when you get on campus. If you withheld a serious injury this could affect your enrollment as well.
Cost of attendance
The NCAA’s answer to the “pay-to-play” question is Cost of Attendance which just came about a few years ago. Now, Cost of attendance varies based on the city and state that the student attends college. The higher the cost of living in that city/state, the higher the cost of attendance. (*Pay special attention to this during the presentations on your campus visits and keep in mind the numbers may be slightly inflated because they are trying to entice your son to come there.) This stipend is over and above your scholarship money. It can also be more if you live off campus to help offset the cost of rent. Now if you plan ahead and do this right you can save quite a bit of money throughout your college career. Enough in fact, to have a nice lump of money for you to get on your feet after graduation (if you don’t get drafted or find a job right away). When I say “lump” I mean anywhere between $10k-$30k if you are smart with your money. Meaning if you live in a dorm and only eat meals at the football facility or student union (all paid for by the school), live on campus in the paid housing as long as possible rather than moving off campus, then you would be saving all your cost of attendance money. That’s about $500-$1000 a month in your pocket.
In some cases this is your sons first time having money of his own flowing in monthly. It will take some time for him to get used to this and begin to budget. This is crucial. Make sure you address this before he leaves. Knowledge is power.
What is NOT covered by your scholarship? Any off campus food, off campus housing, flights home for breaks and off campus transportation expenses. Do you get the recurring theme? EAT ON CAMPUS. LIVE ON CAMPUS.
I had a coach bring up the question of players wanting to get paid a salary for playing college sports. That coach brought up a good point: “How would players feel getting docked pay for being late, poor performance in games, poor performance in practice, poor grades, poor class attendance, etc.? How would that affect your work ethic? Your commitment? Are you really ready for performanced based pay raises or pay cuts? Something interesting to think about as they are going from boys to men. When your money is based on your work ethic, as it usually is in real life this could be an interesting catalyst to maturity.
So now you have a good idea of what will be covered by his scholarship and his cost of attendance stipend. Keep all of these things in mind while evaluating schools. If you plan accordingly he could get a free education in addition to a financial cushion to get him started in life.
Hang in there Momma, if we can do anything, it’s make a little bit of money go a long way. I’m sure he’s learned to budget from watching you. As always send your questions and feedback. I’m here to help.
Vocabulary to know:
Common Application– This is a basic fill in the blanks application that is common for most colleges. This is a formality as you have already been offered a scholarship meaning you have already been accepted as long as you fulfill all requirements for graduation.
Cost of Attendance (COA)- A stipend sent directly to the student to offset the cost of living in that city. The higher the cost of living in that city or state, the higher the cost of attendance stipend.
ON campus Housing– Usually dorms paid for by scholarship money.
Off Campus Housing- Usually apartment style living as close as next door to campus. Costs more, not covered by scholarship, may increase your cost of attendance stipend.
Here is a link to the NCAA FAQ’s about Cost of Attendance:
You will obviously forge relationships with the staff throughout the recruiting process and most of choosing a school is about relationships. But what happens when there is a coaching change?
**The most important coach to ‘get know” is the strength coach.** Your son will spend THEE. MOST. TIME. with the Strength coach. I’m sure someone mentioned that to me at some point but I missed it, he missed it, we missed it. But what I DO remember is every strength coach I met was your “Standard issue” strength coach: Musclebound, crazy eyes, loud talking, overly excited way too early in the morning. Just what you’d think they would be. Your gym trainer to the tenth power. With that being said nothing about any of them really stood out to me. We focused most on the position coach, head coach, offensive coordinator (O.C.). But the one you really need to get to know is the strength coach. If your son early enrolls all of the coaches that recruited him will be off campus still recruiting. Yep, flying to other recruits games, practices, schools, homes, etc. All that courting they just did for you and your family, continues on. This means during winter conditioning the only coach your son sees everyday, is the strength coach and his staff. Not the guy who recruited you, who you’ve spent the last year getting to know. No matter when they enroll they will be spending the MOST time with the strength coach and the academic tutor/counselor/mentor that meets them EVERY day at study hall. These two people are most important!!Remember this!
In our case at Maryland, the strength coach ended up being at the center of an incident involving the death of a player, which lead to the eventual upheaval of the ENTIRE coaching staff. But not before removal of the head coach, the strength coach and some of the training staff in the Spring. This in addition to the loss of a teammate within the first 6 months of my son being on campus. Obviously my initial thoughts were, “We made a mistake.” and I had this sickening feeling that I had sent my son far away from home to be “treated like their own” (catch phrase from coaches you’ll hear during recruiting implying they will treat them like their own son) by these monsters. It was terrible. Talk about a crash course in maturity for those boys. I would check in and tell him “You say the word and I’ll get you outta’ there!”. However, the team was banding together to honor their teammate and the coaching staff was in a mess. But he wanted to stay. It was bigger than football at that point.
Back to coaches. They leave. They probably wont last your entire college career. Unless you are at a VERY successful program where the coaches are paid top dollar, and even then they’ll still probably leave. They will usually take a job at the next level. If they have a losing season or (in our case) a scandal and they get fired, the A.D. or president will usually wipe out the entire staff. When head coaches come in they bring in “their people“. Usually coaches from their previous staff, G.A’s (Grad assistant) they coached, assistants they trust, etc. How great it must be to be a first time head coach and get to call all your favorite, most qualified, most admired colleagues and friends you made along your journey and offer them a job. #Goals
Anyway where does that leave you and your son?? Your son now loses a coach and has to get to know someone new. When they fire a coach he doesn’t really get a chance to say goodbye to anyone. It’s literally here today and gone tomorrow. It’s jarring. But get used to it. In some cases your coach leaves to a school that recruited you but you didn’t pick, or a coach you met during recruiting ends up now taking a job on the coaching staff at your current school. Remember when I told you “not to burn bridges” and “the coaching carousel always comes back around“. Well, it’s happening. Due to tampering and transfer rules it’s an NCAA violation for that coach to contact you. Coaches from other schools can’t contact the athlete once he’s committed and enrolled. This keeps coaches from continually recruiting an athlete. These network connections made during college will last a lifetime. So don’t be sad. You will definitely cross paths with these coaches again. Here is a diagram from last season just to give you an idea.
So now the entire coaching staff has been replaced and you have no point of contact at school but your son. I would hope that the new coaches would reach out, however your son is grown and at this point that would only be a courtesy. ( I had to remind myself of this as I was waiting for a call from a coach, any coach on staff) Like I mentioned above the new coaches are back out recruiting and getting ready for spring practices in addition to filling any open positions still left on the football staff. This is a life lesson in transitioning. Your son needs to stay focused now more than ever, remember why he’s there and his ultimate goal. Although he may not know or even like the new coaches, he needs them to coach him to get to the next level. Keep this in mind and use them as they will most definitely use him.
For my mid-year moms, I know its hard right now and you miss him. It will get easier. Get you a good “Mom Tribe” for support and stay busy. For my Fall enrolling moms, keep your sons busy, they should have received an off-season workout and playbook after signing with their schools.
Any questions or if you would like me to come talk to your parents at your “Spring Football Parent Meeting” please fill out the form on my site for questions and bookings.
Vocabulary to know
O.C. – Offensive Coordinator
H.C. – Head Coach
Position Coach- The person that coaches your sons specific position group (Receivers, O-Line, Running Backs, Corners, Quarter backs etc.)
G.A. – Graduate Assistant- Grad student that acts as coach in a apprentice type position.
Strength Coach- The coach in charge of weight lifting and off-season conditioning. Spends the MOST time with the student athletes. Most important coach to get to know.
Winter Conditioning- Off-season strength training and cardio conditioning. No coaching or coaches allowed to coach during this time.
Spring Football- Coaches are allowed to coach and there is an inter-squad game held to get an idea of personnel to use during regular season.
Well, the time has come. He’s leaving. He’s packed. You’ve filled out all the enrollment paperwork, medical forms, FASFA, You’ve booked flights. You’ve pre-ordered all the big stuff closer to campus. There’s nothing left but to send him off. He’s ready but you’re not. I know. Breathe. He is equally as scared, excited, sad, anxious (insert emotion), but he may or may not show it. I want
to assure you, the build up to him leaving is WAY worse than him actually being gone. I promise. Don’t get me wrong, you will be sad. But it’s different. Yes, you’ll be lost for a while. That’s normal. I called a friend while in the grocery store, for the first time shopping only for myself, I didn’t even know what to buy. What do I even like? I lived my life for my son for so long I didn’t even know who I was. Do I even eat? What do I do when I don’t have a tournament to be at on the weekends? Or games on Friday nights? Or coaches calls every weeknight? WHO AM I???? It will take time to get back to who YOU are or even reinvent yourself and that’s fine. Enjoy every minute of it.
What to expect on report day: Usually the coach that recruited him and maybe his position coach ( if they’re not the same person) will be there when he shows up. In our case it was the coach that recruited him, his wife and their kids. But keep in mind no one is back on campus yet. Most students are still on Winter break. You will get him moved in, they will drop off his gear or he may get that when he reports to Winter conditioning. You may hang around and visit for a while depending on how you set it up. And as well as you have prepared there will be things he needs that you might not have thought of, so plan a Wal-Mart run in your schedule at some point to get anything you guys forgot. But come Monday morning, he will hit the ground running. He’ll get his student ID card and keys to the facilities and start workouts.
If you don’t hear much right away, don’t panic. He will be so busy. Remember, he’s never had a real schedule to follow on his own before. He will be at the football facility from
6am until 8pm at night. “Doing what!?” you ask, well they have morning lift, breakfast, team meeting, position meeting, study hall, lunch, afternoon lift, treatment, offensive meeting, defensive meeting, dinner, homework… oh, and class! They’ll fit class in there somewhere. He will be exhausted, overwhelmed and figuring it all out in the next week or two.
But I promise when you talk to him he will sound different. It’s like something changes, he sounded more confident and sure of himself. He sounded like he didn’t miss me. He sounded like, well, a MAN. Ugh, can you hear my heart breaking? This was the goal, remember? To make him a fully functioning decent human being. A (dare I say it) MAN. You did it. It’s so bitter sweet though. Breathe.
My suggestion, have trips planned ahead to see him. Like the Spring game (usually in April). I always felt better when I had a solid date I was going up for a visit. It gave me something to look forward to. Also get familiar with FaceTime or video chat if you’re not already. Set up a time to chat weekly or whatever works for you guys. This will help to put your mind at ease. Lastly, ENJOY THE RIDE mom. You both worked really hard for this. You should enjoy this next phase in life as much as he is.
Hang in there. I’m here if you have questions.
Everything will unfold just how it should. It always does.
Vocabulary to know
Winter Conditioning– This is weightlifting and basic conditioning workouts before the regular season begins.
FASFA– Free Application for Federal Student Aid -This is your financial aid application. The school counselor will help with filling this out and will have a FASFA rep on campus to help as well. Get with your counselor as soon as possible on this.
Incidentally National Early Signing Day lines up with the end of regular season and CFB playoffs. With this comes the “Coaching Carousel“. This is when coaches far enough along in their contracts with consecutive losing records and consecutive poor recruiting classes (not enough highly rated players- see “Stars” below) are fired and hired by various colleges in various conferences. Its nauseating. Usually in good faith a school will announce their change in coach before early signing day so that athletes have an opportunity to back out of their verbal commitment if they want. In other cases schools wait to fire their head coach (which usually wipes out the entire coaching staff) until after early signing day. This is why it is important to love the school, the town, the program, the team, the campus, the tradition, the education (all the constants) more than its coaches. However that is difficult when the connections we make are with the people. Not to mention the X’s and the O’s of the coaching change and the possibility of a new offensive or defensive scheme. Depending on your son’s position this could change things drastically.
There will be another shift in coaches after bowl games and the CFB championship games. If coaches do well they may look to move up the ladder, some position coaches will follow newly appointed head coaches to new programs. Its hard for the athlete to understand but as the parent you see this coach moving up or getting canned and you understand it on more of an adult level. We know if we’re not good at our job we will be
replaced and if we ARE good at our job we’re probably trying to advance our careers. This is how I explained it to my son and once again, at the end of the day College Football is a business.
Keep in mind that no matter how well you think you know a coach and his staff, you never REALLY know. I supported my son in his decision to go to the University of Maryland, under DJ. Durkin (head coach) and Rick Court (strength
coach) who were fired after an incident resulting in the death of an athlete. Yes, someone died. A mother lost her son. Our worst fear. I had no idea who these people truly were. (google it) My point is, even if you think you’ve done all your research, you still may get it wrong. *I will touch on this more as the season progresses as we are going through a change in coaching staff in real time.
Will your son play? You will need to understand what it means to redshirt . Depending on your sons position, the depth chart, the type of system the coach is running, and your sons GPA. In some cases a school will take someone with a lower GPA with intentions to Red shirt their freshman year to get their GPA up. All of these factors need to be taken into consideration when picking a school. I advise doing your research before asking a coach these questions. Just because they will usually be vague because they don’t think you know any better. If you already know the type of offensive system ( Spread, Pro Style, etc..) they are running and how deep at your sons position they are on the depth chart you will be able to have a more educated discussion with the coach. Also he will be less likely to be vague because it will be clear you know what you’re talking about.
You will hear talk of a kid being a “3-star” or a “4-star”. The “oohs and ahhs” of 5-star! But what does that mean!? Stars are a ranking system based on physical size and stature, ability, potential, offers, and lastly social media presence. Who gives the rankings? The recruiting sites. Seriously, the guys behind the computer screen. Yep, the guy in the floppy hat doing interviews with his Iphone after 7-on-7 tournaments. But if you use the recruiting site “analysts” and your social media as a tool these two can help with your sons star ranking. However, they only matter to the kids themselves and lazy recruiters (that will recruit a kid on stars alone without even knowing anything about them) oh, and recruiting class rankings. When you hear of a “Top 25 recruiting class” this is based on the number of star rated players a school has signed. Don’t get too caught up in this. Honestly, stars mean NOTHING!!
As it gets closer to signing day you will start to see your twitter feed filled with pics of coaches doing “In-home visits” -this is when coaches come to your home to talk
about your son, their school, their program and get to know your family. For us moms this is obviously nerve racking to have guests in our homes especially after you’ve already visited their (beautiful, extravagant, perfectly decorated) homes on your official visits. Just know they
have seen much worse than your messy/small/old/ (insert insecurity here, I listed mine) house. My house was built in 1958 and is barely 1000 sq. ft. Or what I like to call “cozy”. Don’t feel pressured to feed them dinner either. In our case, we had 3 and 4 coaches and staff visiting in one night. They were literally like ships passing… at, well…the front door. My son would run in his room and quick change from one school’s shirt to the next. This is not necessary but he wanted to be respectful and represent since they went so far as to come across the country to visit. We would sit around my little living room and just chat. It was my chance to ask any questions and for them to get a feel of where my son came from. I would usually put out some finger foods and bottled water. You DON’T have to feed them. Don’t pressure yourself to impress the coaches. It is their job to impress you and your son, remember that.
The process is almost over. Stay strong. Good Luck
Next Entry I’ll talk about preparing yourself and your mid-year son for his departure. Keep breathing.
Vocabulary to know
Coaching Carousel– When coaches move from one school to another due to poor performance or career advancement.
Redshirt- Your son will not play at all or only play in up to 4 games due to injury, grades, readiness or need and will still have 4 full years of eligibility to play.
Stars– The way players are ranked by recruiting sites based on their size, ability, potential, offers and social media. Ranking go from 2 stars – 5 stars.
IN-Home Visit– Like an unofficial or official visit but the coaches come to your home instead of you going to them.
September 1st (the date coaches can contact your son directly) has come and gone. By now, if you are a mom of an upperclassmen you have grown familiar with the the evening convos with the front runners of recruiting. These are the schools that call once or twice a week to talk to YOU mom. Yeah, YOU. I know. Crazy. I remember the time I talked to Lovie Smith on the phone. Good gracious I was nervous. He didn’t laugh at any of my jokes.
But my point is: if they are asking to talk to you multiple times a week, know that your son is inundated. Coaches will call and text throughout the school day and all hours of the evening. I would tell my son “Don’t respond, it’s a test”. “They want to see what kind of student you are, to see if you will answer during class.” The truth (in my experience), they don’t care. They want to take up as much of the athletes time as they can. They are like a used car salesman trying desperately to close a deal. You are negotiating the trade of your son, your greatest gift, for a full ride scholarship. This is why you need your “Spidey sense”(mother’s intuition) because if you’re getting the “used car salesman” vibe, trust your gut. The best recruiter will make you feel like they genuinely care. It will be up to you to help him navigate through what is genuine and what is not. Also you may receive game invites and questionnaires to fill out from schools. Although this is used a a recruiting tool , if a school is interested they will be contacting your son or his coach and extending an offer. In some cases schools extend blanket offers and offer more kids than they have scholarships for. This is because they know every offer they extend is not a “Commit-able offer“. Meaning they WOULDN’T accepted his verbal commitment if he gave it. Also if they offer game tickets this doesn’t necessarily guarantee a meeting with a position coach or head coach.
*To better understand this remember to think like a recruiter- keep as many recruits on the line in case the one you want falls through. Hence, the non-commit-able, blanket offers.
Relationships and Networking
The coaches will use every angle they have. If that looks like forging a relationship with your son because they know he doesn’t have a male to look up to at home. Or flirting with you, mom because they think they will draw you in. Even the married coaches with families (in some cases families that you’ve met). All while looking you in your eye in front of your son and saying (with a straight face) “We are not only in the business of developing athletes, we want to develop great young men, fathers, and husbands.” (If I heard it once, I heard it 10 times). Which is exactly what you want to hear, right? But can you trust this coach? Because the minute recruiting is done and your son doesn’t pick their school, you will never hear from them again. Or worse when they get their recruiting class full at your sons position, he will NEVER hear from them again. In some cases they didn’t even have the decency to let him know they were full at his position. They just stopped answering calls and texts. I took things very personally and wanted to defend and protect my son (Angry Momma Bear). Breathe… This is how you learn and grow through the process. At the end of the day college football is a BUSINESS and your son will be treated as a commodity; remember that.
*Keep in mind the connections made throughout recruiting will come full circle at some point. The coaching carousel is always turning and if your son plans to make a career out of football they will definitely run into these coaches again. Never burn bridges.
Coaches Coming to school
Coaches will stop in at your son’s school and pull him out of class to chat, check on his grades and in some cases meet with his teachers and school staff to see what they have to say about him. This is a sneak attack so make sure your son is at school every day and has a good reputation from the lunch ladies all the way up to the principal. They will ask any school employee if they know him?, if he’s a good kid?, how are his grades?, etc. Of course all of the feedback will be positive because you raised a good one. Now because I worked at my son’s high school I was able to see just how much class time this actually takes up. It’s quite a bit depending on how heavily he’s being recruited. So he has to make sure he is on top of his assignments because he will be missing a lot of class time. Be patient with his teachers and thank them as they will have to be flexible as well.
Just to recap, they are pulling him from classes during the day and tying up his evenings with phone calls. This doesn’t leave much time for anything else. Make sure you are setting boundaries with the coaches and help your son to set a boundary. In most cases your son has never had to set a boundary with an adult male (this looks like telling a coach “No”). *Remember although he has put time into building this “relationship” with this coach, he is NOT anyone’s friend. College football is a BUSINESS.
You may need to help draft text messages, or be in the background of phone calls helping
him find the words to be respectful yet assertive with a coach. After once or twice he will have the script down and be able to handle them on his own. This looks like telling them a good time to contact you or asking them not to call during class, dinner, homework time, etc. Speaking of drafting text messages, you may also have to help draft answers to questions from interviewers. They will probably contact your son through twitter. They usually want a recap of a visit or a camp he’s attended. It doesn’t have to be a long thought provoking answer to the questions but it does need to make sense and be grammatically correct. He should be humble, acknowledge his team and coaches before himself (in that order) when asked about his performance. Remember not to give away too much detail (especially if he is withholding his commitment until signing day).
As always bring on the questions. For my moms of seniors, the journey is almost over so enjoy every second. Moms of juniors, buckle up it’s about to get crazy. Make sure to comment and share with your mom tribe.
Phew! Football season has probably just ended or is winding down for you and your athlete. If so this is the perfect time to start scheduling some campus visits. Obviously this can get expensive so I suggest visiting places close to home first.
These would be considered “Unofficial” visits and you can take as many as you want and I suggest you start taking these Junior year. These are entirely at your expense. So pack up the cooler, load up the van and get on the road. Visit schools that you are
considering and you may or may not have “Offers” from. Also I suggest using an app like “Snapchat” or some other video app to make a sort of video diary of your visits. I suggest Snapchat because you can put together a “story” chronicling your day with a time stamp, location and save the entire story in one short video. This will come in handy when you sit down and recap your visit with your athlete. Usually your athlete will let the coach he has been in contact with know that he is coming. However due to a new rule change the coach CAN NOT be involved. He may however “bump in to” you while you’re on campus (this is all outlined in the contact rules).
OH CONTACT. I forgot to tell you about contact rules. So I mentioned in my first entry that a coach CAN NOT contact an athlete directly and will usually go through his coach. They will begin to contact him directly on Sept 1st of his Junior year. And be ready, it literally starts at midnight. His phone will light up like a Christmas tree. ( its super exciting to get to watch it through his eyes). Oh and your mailbox. Girrrrrrl bless your mailman. Get him a gift card. Your poor mailbox will be over flowing from now until signing day.
Back to your unofficial visit. Once he has let the football or academics liaison know he’s coming they will usually have someone meet you and show you around. You’ll tour the football facility, weight room, academics, dorms and the medical facility/training room (this is where they will get “treatment” before and after practice and games). You’ll meet current athletes and will run into them throughout the visit. Pay attention to their interactions with you, their coaches the liaison that’s showing you around (Spidey sense). Also get to know the strength coach. This is who the athlete will spend most of his time with (we will get more into this later). This is where you need to take pictures and videos and save them in some sort of order to go back to later. Depending on where you live you might be able to visit two campuses in a weekend. We saw three once. It was a whirlwind and it all starts to run together after a couple so make sure to document your visit.
*Speed tip: If you let a coach or school know you are heading to see another campus (and they really want you) they will try to stall you and hold you up. So divulge that info on a need to know basis to keep your trip on schedule.
Now official visits are similar to unofficial visits however you used to take these during senior year, due to a new rule change you can start taking them during Junior year. You only get 5 and the school you are visiting will invite you on an official visit, set it all up and pay for everything. I mean EVERYTHING! Car service to the airport, flights, hotels, meals, game tickets, entertainment, all of it. THIS… This is what you worked for. This is
the payoff for the hellacious weekends crammed in the smelly minivan, driving all over the country, eating PB&J and sleeping in questionable hotels. THIS is for YOU mom. Enjoy this part. Did I mention the food? SO. MUCH. FOOD. They feed you so often that you don’t have time to get hungry. I wont even ruin the surprise waiting for you in your rooms when you check in. They will give you the campus tour, academics presentation, dorm tour, if there is a home game you’ll get to see pregame warm-ups down on the field. They will show you around the city. It’s the A-list treatment.
OK Momma, I need to let you know the players are going to take your son out. Breathe… But the coaches are going to take YOU out too. Try not to think too much about it. They will introduce you to his “Host”(usually an upper-classmen that plays the same position) for the weekend and he is in charge of showing your son a good time on his visit. Feel free to give this young man the shake down. In my case it was the same on each visit: They introduced me, I shook his hand and looked him in his eye and said “This is all I have in this whole world. If something happens to him, I will find you.” ( I told you I was an embarrassment). Just remember you raised him right. He will make good decisions and *NEWS FLASH* he’s moving out in a couple months. He’s about to be a grown up.
You will be on this visit with other parents and athletes. Especially if it’s during season. There are only 7 home games (remember this number) so they have to get as many of their top recruits on campus to see the game day atmosphere (Some schools do not have visits during season). So in some cases there will be more than one recruit of the same position which I always thought was awkward. Anyway be prepared. I met some really cool parents of athletes that went else where and you automatically become a fan. Speaking of game day atmospheres; *Remember there are only 7 home games. That’s 7 days out of the 365 that he will be on campus. Try not to put too much weight on the game day experience. It’s more about the entire place. He better love it.
Official visits: Recruits can now start taking official visits starting September 1 of their junior year of high school. Set up and paid for entirely by the school you are visiting. Athlete only allowed 5.
Unofficial visits: College athletic departments-this includes college coaches-are not allowed to be involved in a recruit’s unofficial visits. Unofficial visits are any campus visits paid for entirely by the recruit’s family. If the recruit happens to bump into the coach on campus, they can’t have any recruiting conversations at that time. Athlete is allowed unlimited unofficial visits.
Host: Upper class-men in the same position group that will show your athlete around during your visit.
Strength Coach: The coach responsible for strength and conditioning. The person the athlete will spend the majority of his time with (more than his position coach or the head coach).
Did you do your homework? Did you watch the “Commitment videos” on YouTube? Are you starting to hear the buzz from your athlete about who is going where? Better yet, are you seeing it in the news feed of your new Twitter account?
For the sake of timing, I decided it would be good to talk about Early Signing Day, Mid-year enrollment and Graduation. ‘Tis the season.
First, let me explain what signing day is and what is being signed. National Signing day is the day your athlete will sign their NLI (National Letter of Intent). This is their commitment to attend the college they verbally committed to (we will get into verbal commitments later). The actual NLI is signed electronically usually on a phone or iPad using your finger or a stylus the morning of signing day. You will be overnighted a paper copy to sign at the table (this is just for show) on NSD (National Signing Day) and a keepsake for you. You can sign early but that does NOT mean you have to enroll early. National Early Signing Day was just introduced last year. It worked out well for both coaches and athletes. Here is why: Coaches were able to fill most (if not all) of their roster spots on early signing day which means they were done recruiting for that class. Same for the athletes; they could sign, their commitment would be locked in and they could enroll early or finish their senior year with peace of mind.
National Early Signing Day: 12/19/18 – 12/21/18 National Signing Day: 2/6/19 – 4/1/19
Which brings me to my next point: Mid-year Enrollment
If you made a Twitter account then you have seen the term “Mid-year ”. I know what you are thinking, “What the heck is a Mid-year and what does it mean?” Mid-year enrollment is something you would have been planning before (or at the latest) at the beginning of senior year (sorry moms of seniors). You will need to get with your school counselor during junior year to make sure you are on track to enroll early in college. How is this possible, you ask? Usually the second semester of your senior year you will only need two or three classes. You can take these classes online during first semester so that when the semester ends in December you will have completed your high school requirements and can enroll in winter term in college. For Example: You would be taking 1st semester of English 4 in class and 2nd semester of English 4 online AT THE SAME TIME.
It is a lot, I know…deep breaths.
Benefits of enrolling early: Your athlete will be a semester ahead of everyone in his graduating class, he will be able to attend winter conditioning and he is eligible to participate in spring football/Spring Game ( this is a HUGE advantage over other incoming freshman in his class) Drawbacks of enrolling early: Your athlete may miss senior prom and mom may be sad sooner (Or happy. No judgement here).
One of my favorite coaches we met during recruiting told us “2nd Semester of your senior year is the biggest waste or your time”. What he meant by that: You are the best on your team so no one is pushing you in the weight room (that is if they even know what they are doing in the weight room) and you only have a couple classes so you have a lot of idle time on your hands to get into trouble. In most cases, it is in your athlete’s best interest to get on campus, get into the routine of workouts and classes and start building relationships with his new teammates.
But what about graduation?
Good news! Your athlete can come home for graduation and walk the stage with his class. Keep in mind you will have to get him home and back to school and possibly transportation back to campus. During recruiting, schools will tell you they will fly him home for graduation. This is false. It is, in fact an NCAA violation. So plan on the expense.
I know what you are thinking mom, I’m sure there is a lump in your throat at the thought of him leaving even a moment sooner. Breathe… Cry… Do whatever you need to do. Then pull yourself together and really think about what is best for your son. Then talk it out with him and his counselor, coaches and recruiters and come up with a plan (We will talk about the emotional aspect of this later). Just know, I could not even say the words “Mid-year enrolling” without bursting into tears (seriously EVERY time. I was an embarrassment).
Lastly, your athlete may not sign on NSD and he may not enroll early. Do not be pressured by “looking good” on NSD or enrolling when you’re not ready or it’s not the right fit. It is OK to sign later within the signing dates and enroll in fall classes. DON’T PANIC. One of the biggest decisions of his life is where he will go to college. Make sure it feels right.
Hang in there Momma, we will get through this together. As always bring on the questions, I’m here to help.
Vocabulary to know:
National Early Signing Day- 12/19/18 – 12/21/18 NSD- National Signing day- 2/6/19 – 4/1/19 NLI- National Letter of Intent Mid-Year Enrollee- Enrolling in college as a freshman to start winter term (January) rather than waiting until fall (August/September).
Welcome to the only blog by a single mom on this topic. I only know this because while I was going through the process with my son I looked everywhere for a guide. They don’t exist. So instead I was left asking for information from coaches and “friends” who usually had their own agenda when giving me advice. With that being said, I’m here to give all the tricks and tips to the process that I learned the hard way. I will do my best to tell you everything I learned and am still learning.
My name is Nicole and my son has just finished his first full year of college. He enrolled in January of 2018 and was highly recruited out of high school with 38 D-1 (division 1) full scholarship offers to play football. It all started with his first “offer” as a sophomore; And if your son is like mine he’s watched his older teammates get “offers” and talk to coaches for the last couple years and he’s ready for his turn. He’s watched the commitment videos on YouTube, he’s seen schools chosen out of “3 hats at the table” and he’s ready for his chance. (If you have free time look up “commitment videos” on YouTube. They are pretty elaborate.)
Let me first explain what an “offer” is: Usually a college coach will contact your athlete’s high school coach (because they are not allowed to contact the athlete directly due to NCAA rules. We will get more in depth with this later) and extend a scholarship offer to your athlete. This is a very exciting time. However keep your cool Mom. I need you to have your Spidey senses on full alert as the offers start to roll in.
First things first: Get yourself a Twitter account. This is how you will keep abreast on all recruiting news. Follow any or all coaches, schools and recruits that you know of. This way you will get updated on whats going on with recruiting. This is especially helpful to keep track of how many commits in each position the school already has and how many they offer. How will you know who they offered? Trust me, Kids love to post their offers.
Keep in mind Twitter is not like Facebook or Instagram. Twitter is your new recruiting tool. Think of this as “All business”. No pics of the kids or your breakfast. This is solely to tweet your athlete’s Hudl link (Hudl is the site the athletes use to edit their highlights and send to coaches) keep up to date on schools and recruiting and to communicate with coaches through DM’s (Direct messages. Like messenger on Facebook) You, your athlete and his coach are his only promoters. It will be up to you guys to post his highlights and send them to coaches. This is how he will get exposure. Gone are the old days of sending out VHS tapes.
Second, get familiar with the NCAA rules on contact during recruiting. You will need to know the difference between a dead period (no contact), quiet period (no face to face contact), official visits, unofficial visits and “bump intos”. If your athlete breaks the rules he could risk losing his NCAA eligibility.
Third, STAY CALM. This is a huge time for you and your son. Take your time, do your research and enjoy the ride. The most important thing you can do right now is get prepared for the overwhelming time and attention the recruiting process takes. You want to make an informed decision and even then you still might not get it right. It’s all perfect, you and your athlete will learn and grow through this process. Everything is going to be fine.
I think I’ve given you enough research for our first encounter. Please comment or contact me with any and every question.
We single moms have to stick together and I’m here to help.