(COURTESY / SHAY MCDOWELL)
Decades ago, exposure for college sports was primarily, if not entirely, based on high school performance. Today, with the expansion of club sports and college showcases, scouts are increasingly considering using other sources besides high school. Athletes now have to consider what could give them the best exposure, between high school, showcases, and competitive sports.
College showcases and camps produce opportunities for exposure, yet they come with a hefty price. Whether spending money on showcases and camps or recruiting websites such as NCSA or got soccer, or travelling to camps, getting exposure can be expensive and complicated.
For Cal Poly commit junior Kate Slack, playing club volleyball brought her options for colleges to come watch her play and for her to express interest in them, rather than if she played exclusively for her high school team.
“Our club had us participate in a lot of tournaments that college coaches were at,” Slack said. “There was never really any exposure from high school volleyball and scouting is more club based.”
Similar to Slack, Oregon State commit freshman Shay McDowell says it is hard communicating with her college because of her age.
“In the fall, college coaches go to showcase tournaments and now I can’t talk to them until my junior year because of the new NCAA rule, so the showcase camps are usually when I get to talk to them,” McDowell said.
College coaches often utilize camps, showcases and club sports because their seasons don’t conflict like the college and high school sports often do. During the college season, coaches will often be more focused towards his or her team’s teams rather than recruiting.
Kylie Granno, a senior and St. Mary’s soccer commit, attended a few college showcases and camps, where she feels she got the most exposure to to college coaches. She says that only two colleges attended her high school games.
“I attended four ID camps, one at UCSB, Chico, Sonoma and Cal Poly. But I got noticed by St. Mary’s at the summer San Diego Surf Cup showcase,” Granno said. “The colleges that attended high school games were Folsom Lake and Sierra College, but the majority of my exposure came from club soccer.”
Athletes and parents have also been using college recruiting websites like NCSA, Got Soccer and College Baseball Match. These websites cost money, but create ways to get in contact with coaches. When coaches are in their sports season often times they don’t have time to travel to watch high school sports games in person, making highlight tapes and film important.
However, varsity boys basketball coach Greg Granucci believes that if athletes are talented enough, they can catch the attention of college scouts – even when playing high school.
“If you’re good enough somebody’s going to find you,” Granucci said. “If you’re a player with a lot of talent, no matter what you play someone is going to find you.”
American River College scout Hank DeMello notes that ability and statistics are not the only factors that colleges consider when recruiting. He says that scouts looks for specific things, such as where are they going to be, how they think and how they react.
“We kind of look at their tools and how smooth they are, how they think, how they react to things,” DeMello said.
DeMello also believes that travel or club sports can be worth it, but they have a very hefty downside; the top players are all playing on the same team, whereas high school is the players in your boundaries.
“When you play club, you’re getting eight different high schools on the same team, but when you’re in high school it’s the best of your boundaries,” DeMello said. “In club there are more opportunities than high school but it’s pricey.”