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When is the best time to start reaching out to college coaches for Division 3 sports?

I am going into my junior year of high school and was considering playing basketball in college.

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Paul’s Answer

I would start doing it now.

The first thing to do is put together a good Sports Resume. This concept is very much like a job resume, except you will be outlining your various high school sports, positions played, athletic and academic accomplishments, and awards achieved.

There are many excellent examples of Sports Resume's that you can find online, and utilize their templates.

I would begin sending out these resume's during your junior year, and I would send them directly to the Division III coaches, through postal, rather than through email. They receive many emails, and you want your resume to land right on their desk.

I would also write a good cover letter, outlining all your skills, achievements and your desire to play for their college. While Division III colleges do not offer athletic scholarships, there are other financial scholarships and aid coaches can recommend, to help you to attend their college. Especially if you have the skills, academic grades, and motivation they value.
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Amanda’s Answer

Hi Jacinta! As someone who played D3 tennis, I can offer some details about my own experience:

The D3 process is less defined than D1 in terms of timeline/visits/commitments. I was on the early side and began talking to coaches during the summer after my sophomore year. I began by emailing coaches at schools I was interested in, providing them details on my student/athletic profile (e.g., grades, test scores, tennis rankings), and asking if I could come visit the campuses in-person. It so happened that one of the coaches I spoke to and visited was also very interested in having me on the team based on my student and athletic profile, and offered me a verbal commitment during my informal visit (contingent on other factors, of course). I, of course, had to remain in good standing, and further maintain my grades and athletic performance level. But, given that I had reached out early, I was able to have a good sense of where I would attend school.

Therefore, I would highly recommend taking initiative and reaching out to coaches now. You can never start too early, and you will already differentiate yourself by taking the first step and offering to connect with the coaches, whether it be over the phone/zoom/in-person.

Amanda recommends the following next steps:

Compile list of schools you may be interested in, and the contact information of the relevant coaches
Research those schools and their athletic programs, and take notes on why you may be interested in them
Draft and send an email to the relevant coaches indicating your interest in that school and athletic program, and further detailing your student and athletic profile (e.g., high school, GPA, rankings, tournaments you've played, videos, etc.)
Offer to find time to connect with the coach over the phone/virtually/in-person
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Charles’s Answer

Hello Jacinta,

First, DIII schools have the most relaxed NCAA recruiting rules of all the division levels. Which means there is no limit on when college coaches can reach out to student-athletes or receive recruiting materials, as well as taking unofficial visits to the college, so as Paul mentioned, go ahead and start today.

Next, I provided some next steps to help you with the recruiting process including researching what schools in DIII offer women's basketball, registering through the NCAA Eligibility Center and reading a NCAA guide for Student-Athletes. Remember you are a student-athlete with the first word being student, so work hard on keeping your grades up in high school as well as when you are in college.

Once you've done those steps, I have a few other suggestions when reaching out, as a high school soccer coach and former competitive soccer manager:

-- When you send emails out to the prospective college coaches, know that you are one of many, many possible hundreds if not thousands of student athletes doing so. My recommendation is to have a highlight film through HUDL, YouTube, etc. However, you don't want to make it too long and if it all possible to show some key moments in the first 30-60 seconds. Remember coaches get 100's-1000's of these and if each one was 2-5 minutes - that's a lot of time just looking at that and not coaching, recruiting, attending camps/showcases, etc. BUT -- ensure that you have the fails in there too and how you recovered. For example, let's say you are playing basketball and you make a pass that is intercepted, are you tracking down the ball to stop the attack and or winning it back? No one is perfect and coaches want to see, what you do when you make a mistake and how you react. They want to see the nice saves, shots, etc. too, but how you react to mistakes is also important.
-- You have your video, now you are ready to send an email. Do some research on the school, coach and the team. When you start off the email say something what attracted you to the school. Personalize it with your major, congratulating on a successful season, or how impressed you are with the teams GPA. A lot of that information is on their pages or can be found on the colleges site. If your team is playing in tournaments/showcases, give them your schedule of events and ask them if they plan on attending so you can send them the actual game schedules. If you have a one-page flyer on yourself; name, address, email, social media, phone number, GPA, etc. like a resume that shows you you've played for, what position(s), etc. - that is something to share too, so they have it all on one page.

Unfortunately, not every college or coach out there will be the right fit, whether for you or them. But keep your head up and continue moving forward if this is the direction you want to go in. Move on to another school, take a look at NAIA and or start out with Junior/Community Colleges. Also, remember you are a Student-Athlete, emphasis on student, which is why that word comes first. So, remember to keep up on your studies, tests, etc. in high school as well as in college. Many coaches provide themselves on high GPA for their team, especially when they travel a lot and miss a decent number of classes.

Finally, I want to wish you Good Luck!

Charles recommends the following next steps:

Research some schools in DI-DIII: https://www.ncaa.org/sports/2021/5/3/membership-directory.aspx
Check out / read this NCAA guide for Student-Athletes: http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/eligibility_center/Student_Resources/CBSA.pdf
Read additional info and register in the NCAA Eligibility Center: https://www.ncaa.org/sports/2021/2/8/student-athletes-future.aspx
Get your video, one page and personalized email set to send to the college coaches
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Kelsey’s Answer

Hello Jacinta! As a former D1 college athlete, I can tell you that while D3 may have the most lenient regulations among the three divisions, the effort you put into reaching out to a coach, regardless of the division, should be the same. College sports will demand a significant amount of your personal time, so it's crucial to find the best school that aligns with your academic and athletic goals.

Remember, it's never too early to make contact. In fact, going into your junior year is the perfect time to be reaching out. As soon as you're prepared to discuss your athletic and academic accomplishments with college programs, don't hesitate to get in touch with the head coach. If you're a bit ahead of the curve, they might not respond immediately, but don't let that dishearten you.

Persist in sending them updates about your athletic and academic progress to demonstrate your interest in their institution. College coaches are on the lookout for students who show a deep commitment to their sport, and one of the most effective ways to demonstrate this is through regular communication. Keep going, and stay positive!
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