This story in February 1's Rocky Mountain News suggests there are a number of specialized college athletic recruiting social networking sites that are popping up across the country that are selling themselves as a way for high school athletes to connect with college coaches -- and maybe more importantly it signifies a trend where creative athletic programs and coaches are embracing social networking as a viable mechanism to reach high school athletes. One of the sites that isn't mentioned in the article, but is gaining traction nationally is: http://www.globalsports.net/.
It has always been a challenge for high school athletes who are not in the "revenue" sports of football and men's/women's basketball to get noticed if they are not in the top 200 recruits nationally of their sports. Likewise it has always been a challenge for the coaches at small colleges and in non-revenue sports at Division I schools to get to the far corners of the country to see athletes on very small recruiting budgets.
In years past, parents have tried to fill this void by spending hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars putting together DVD highlight reels of their kids' athletic performances. They sent these tapes to dozens or even hundreds of coaches in hope they might look at their video over the 1000+ other vidoes that had come in.
With the economy shredding recruiting budgets for almost every level of college sports, it has hit smaller colleges and non-revenue sports even harder. This has forced coaches to seek out and even embrace technology as their friend - learning about and using the technology like social networking that is available -- within NCAA and NAIA guidelines -- to connect to the lesser-known athletes from small to previously unheardof high schools.
It is a win-win for the athlete and the coach. There are a lot of talented high school athletes who never played beyond the 12th grade because they never had the chance to be seen by a recruiter or a coach. Now they can, and it seems so far, everyone wins.
Now, while these recruiting social networking sites are designed to specifically enhance a high school athlete's chance to connect with college coaches, other social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook are being used by college admissions offices as a litmus test as to whether or not they want to accept some students into their freshman class. Parents, don't be fooled, most high schoolers have a MySpace and/or Facebook page.
For the parents of athletes who are working so hard to get your kids recruited, don't let the latter happen to you. YouDiligence is a service that alerts you by email to potentially troubling posts on your kid's MySpace and Facebook pages -- the very things that college admissions offices are looking for. Now you can protect your kids' reputation by having them remove potentially problematic posts before collegiate admissions officers get to see them. The first month is free -- http://www.youdiligence.com.
BSOT = Be Safe Online Tonight