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How Early Should a Team Start the Showcase Process?

When should players start to attend College Showcases in earnest? My inevitable answer is: “Earlier than they think they should.” Because by the time the player gets everything right, it could be too late.

Like virtually everything else the high school student-athlete is going through, the showcasing process is an invaluable learning experience. And like most things, you get better at it the longer you do it. (And I am not referring to the play on the field, which many players have spent their whole life honing.)

First, players must learn how to contact colleges they are interested in attending. But too often I hear players wail that they have no idea where they want to go. Exactly the point! Players have to start sifting through the possibilities at some point. A Showcase provides the focus to do that!

Once a player starts investing the time, money and effort to attend a Showcase, a mentor should help the player realize it’s a lost opportunity if they aren’t contacting schools. But identifying potential programs, drafting player resumes, composing emails --- these are all off-field skills that don’t just happen overnight, they need time to be learned and improved.

Job seekers are often told to go for their first job interview with a company they are indifferent about receiving an offer from. The theory is that the jobseeker sharpens their skills in a low-pressure situation, and only then seeks out the interview that matters to them, after they are better prepared for the interview that counts. The analogy applies here: a player needs to get comfortable with the process before it is actually critical for them.

The player must create a rhythm for their emails to the college coaches of their choice. The emails should sequence: to express interest in the school, to advise of a Showcase being attended, to notify of the released schedule of games, to alert of any schedule changes, to follow-up after the event.

Even if a school does not attend the Showcase in question, the fact that a player displays such communicative discipline and persistence can still impress a coach. It may lead to a commitment to evaluate a player at a future event. Obviously, players that start showcasing late in their senior year leave no room for such relationships to gestate.

Finally, think about what the end of high school life is like. The student-athlete is taking SAT exams and filling out college applications. Possibly learning to drive and working to save up for a car. Preparing for the excitement of junior and senior proms. Visiting colleges. Captaining their high school team, attending team banquets, accepting awards and playing in senior all-star games. And just trying to get through their normal school work while maintaining a semblance of a social life. Obviously, having the Showcasing process under control and in motion before everything else piles on allows the student-athlete one less thing to be unduly worried about.

Bohdan E. Porytko, Morristown NJ, 2008.

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