I know I have been missed greatly from the world of blogging. The past two months have been spent traveling to watch some of the country’s top underclass players. Lots of college coaching changes. Coaches scrambling for the remaining top prospects in the class of 2010. A college junior skipping her senior year and turning pro. So much has transpired, important, future changing decisions. Nike dropping its men’s and more important to us, women’s grassroots directors. What does this mean, I’m not sure, but in these globally unstable economic times, most sports and ALL women’s sports are struggling. The WNBA and many of the top European women’s leagues are finding it difficult to meet payroll and deal with dipping corporate sponsorships. I am certainly not an economist, but I do know a little about women’s club basketball. So that is what I will talk about.
My perspective is one of a parent, coach and talent evaluator. I have been blessed with being around some of the top players, coaches and administrators in amateur women’s basketball. I hope I have learned well from them all. What I would like to bring up in this segment is the job of the summer club coach in the recruitment process. Most club coaches are volunteers who love the game. To many of us it has been a rewarding way of giving back. Yes there are some bad ones out there, but also some truly giving, caring people who want to make a difference in a child’s life.
One of the first things I try to make clear to the parents in the beginning is to offer any help I can give them. It is up to the PARENT to decide the level of involvement. Some may feel very comfortable with their knowledge of the process. Others may feel the high school coach is to be the point person, or what I think is the best solution, a combo of all three.
It is important to have a working relationship with your player’s high school coach. Invite them to your practices; insist the college coaches include them in the recruiting process. Talk to them about the player’s weaknesses and how you can help improve them. Do not badmouth them, and then expect them not to do the same to you. Never undermine their authority during the high school season. SHARE SUCCESS WITH THEM!
Try to establish ground rules about when your season starts/ends. What are your rules about playing outside the club system during the summer. If your team practices 2-3 times a week, plays most weekends and incorporate skills training into practices, is playing 2 games per week for her high school team too much? Each team and coach may have different thoughts on this, but I can say through my experiences the better club and high school coaches have the same thing in mind. I have found that the most successful high school coaches and programs,(Germantown Academy’s Sherri Reteif + Tom Nerney, Peddie School’s Sean Casey, Cardinal O’Hara’s Linus McGinty + Chris Genther, just to name a few.) value the time, energy and exposure you can provide for their players and programs. I have had numerous conversations with all of them about how to work together to make the girls more complete players. You cannot pretend there is a perfect way of doing things. I have not always succeeded.
When meeting with players and parents I have a set of questions to ask them, about what is important. The level in which they play will be determined obviously by the colleges that are showing interest.
Most often players will know when they make an un-official visit to a campus if it’s a place they feel comfortable. The size of the school? Do you want rural or urban? Distance from home? Academic strength of school, and/or program you want to major in. Do you want to play for a male or female coach? Established powerhouse or up and coming program? Is the reputation of the coaching staff’s player and life skill development strong? These are all questions that players should be asked, they won’t have all the answers for you, but it will make them think. Finding the right fit for your player is not easy; it’s a huge investment for the schools and a major factor in your player’s happiness for the next four years. As the parent of 3 beautiful daughters, and the coach of over 50 d-1 player, believe me young ladies succeed when they are happy. What is the common factor in EVERY player that makes them more likely to find that happiness–playing time. It is of critical importance when picking a school to be realistic about future playing time. I have made mistakes; schools have made mistakes about predicting the future. Intangibles that have to be considered include, will a player commit to get better, will they hit the weight room, will they eat right, are they ultra competitive? Or are they talented girls who just want to enjoy the college experience to the fullest extent(party girls).I have never received a phone call from a player who was starting on her college team about transferring. Girls want their efforts rewarded; playing significant minutes is the reward.
Where do they Fit in?
Although a rarity, some players are good enough and academically strong enough to go wherever they want. Some have 5-6 choices and others have no choice, that’s where the hard work and salesmanship come in. I have had many players who only received one scholarship offer, and most turned out to be great fits. Why? Because they know they have no other choices, they have to make it work.
Remember you do have an important and often CRITICAL part of your player’s future. Playing time, knowing their limitations, putting them in position to be successful. They are all equally important. You have to make those decisions, and believe me; most parents will not understand that part of the puzzle. I have seen it work many times, when parents, coaches and players are all on the same page, success, happiness and a chance for a free degree work best. My favorite moment in coaching was not winning championships, but when a player with no scholarship receives an offer. That makes me happy!! THAT’S WHAT THIS IS ABOUT!