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Some hard truth about college athletic recruiting

Just came across an amazing article by Becky Carlson who is a D-I NCAA Women's Rugby Coach at Quinnipiac University (Hamden, CT).

She writes an open letter to potential student-athletes about college athletic recruiting from a coach's perspective, and there is a tremendous amount of wisdom to be gleaned by athletes and families alike about the process. 

Coaches want to engage with the athlete, not their parents.  

While it took a bit to thumb through the long list of your impressive extracurricular activities please thank your parents for putting this packet together and understand that it would have been far more beneficial for our staff to speak to you personally by way of an old school phone call. As my staff sent correspondence to your personal email, we have received only a return from your parents apologizing and explaining that you are simply "too busy to answer".

(I know as a parent, we want the best situation for our kids.  We are used to screening opportunities for our kids, but this should be done up front, and let your athlete be themselves with the college coaches.)

The coaches hope to get to know who the athlete is, both as a player and as a person.  Coaches are people too, and hope to be treated with respect - such as having phone calls returned from the athlete (as opposed to his/her parents), and to have complete emails sent by the athlete which gives them all the information they may need.  Parents could certainly help proof/edit these emails, but they should be sent by the student.  The coaches are gauging these athletes as to how they would fit into their athletic programs, and what sort of character these possible recruits have to project how they might adapt to playing (or not playing) and being a part of a program at the college level.

As you are the team captain, I found it disappointing that you did not contribute to the post game team discussion. I watched as your mother brought over snacks and saw that you made no effort to assist her in bringing those large containers of cupcakes from the bleachers out to your 40 other teammates. Last, as the rest of the team broke the field down and put equipment away, you found a quiet spot on the empty bench to text on your phone.
Perhaps as a high school-age athlete, these are behaviors you are simply unaware of. In a world where you are being taught the X's and O's of mastering a sport, so much practice and dialogue in character building is diminishing. I realize that you have been told repeatedly by many of your previous coaches that you are amazing in your sport. However, players like you, with similar demeanor are a dime a dozen. 
Since you have been a star in your sport for quite a while with coaches and parents who have clearly allowed these details to slip through the cracks also, you are not entirely to blame. However, please bear in mind, none of this makes you a bad person only potentially, a bad teammate. The attributes I am judging you on happen to be far more important than any of your trophies, all-star selections or travel team accolades.

There is a tremendous amount of takeaway wisdom in this article, including a list of 10 characteristics about college athletes from a coach's perspective.

There is no doubt you are talented. However, from my experience, here are the 10 things I know about athletes like you.
1. Your incredible talent is the same talent that in your sophomore year of college will suddenly suffer an ego blow when a new freshman arrives with equal or greater talent. Battling your feeling of ownership over your position and feeling threatened is inevitable. 
2. Rather than working hard to better your game, you are more likely to be the athlete that is constantly comparing your success to others rather than focusing on growth for yourself. This will become a tedious and exhausting process for your coaches and team to constantly have to reassure you of your self worth and value.
3. As those around you put in the work, rather than be grateful to be surrounded by a committed group of individuals who share common goals, you are more likely to resent them and seek out allies to split the team support in half and create locker room chatter.
4. In the event you see time on the bench you may not be emotionally prepared, willing to engage or support the teammate who is starting over you. Also, it is likely you will find it challenging to support the success your team obtains when they win without you on the field.
 

 Well worth the read!

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Using FaceTime for remote video production

Our Portland interview site...

Our Portland interview site...

Recently we had a need to conduct an interview with a key person for a video who was located in California, and about 50 miles from a major airport.  I contemplated flying down myself with a camera package, renting a car, and driving out to film the interview and then flying back the same day.  This was during a very busy production period juggling multiple projects - so I started looking for a videographer in the area who I could partner with.  I was happy to find Curtis Smith of Smith Cinematic who was very close to where we needed to film.  We discussed what was needed, and made arrangements with our interviewee and client.  Curtis and I tested our FaceTime system to make sure it would work ahead of time.  We used a laptop (above) as our primary gear on this end, and an iPad elevated to camera level (below, right of camera) on location.

Our production crew in California prepping for our interview… notice the iPad right of the camera.

Our production crew in California prepping for our interview… notice the iPad right of the camera.

On the scheduled day, I was able to conduct the interview via FaceTime with my clients here in Portland, while Curtis filmed the interview in California.  We were able to engage with our interviewee, ask follow-up questions, and see how he looked via the iPad.  This worked out wonderfully, ended up being more cost-effective for my client, and took less production time on the whole.  I have done phone patches in the past with voice talent for narrations and voice overs (including Waylon Jennings back in the day!) - but this was the first time we were able to use FaceTime for remote production here at Mercury Productions.  We received the video files electronically that night, and we were good to go to start editing the next day.  Being able to harness this technology to help tell stories is wonderful thing.

Rolling on the interview.

Rolling on the interview.

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Creativity breakthroughs....

Sanibel Island swell - photo by Dave Decker

Sanibel Island swell - photo by Dave Decker

I recently watched a TED broadcast of Stefan Sagmeister where he talked about his approach to refreshing his creativity. Every 7 years, he takes a one-year sabbatical to explore new ideas, designs, and projects.  Many people have generated ideas and product designs during these sabbaticals (Post-it notes is one that comes to mind).  Google, IBM and progressive companies offer sabbaticals to their employees for good reason.  Stefan Sagmeister spent his last sabbatical in Bali working on a variety of projects - and I thought that sounded right up my alley (I could also learn to surf!).

The reality of this approach is that it is not realistic for me to spend a year in Bali not working!  But I started thinking that this 50Films project has really offered me some of the same opportunities as a sabbatical might (other than the obvious requirements of actively running a business!).  I have been able to explore new ideas, new editing and shooting techniques, and have the freedom to craft a project as I’d like.

While working on some of these 50Films programs, I have explored some new editing techniques and workflow procedures which will be integrated into my coming work.  I am actively loading up my next program which is already shot to start editing, and am figuring out the scheduling for my next projects.  

So rather than Bali, the rainy season is here in Portland and I continue on my working sabbatical - 50Films.  The surfing will have to wait.

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College Baseball Recruiting Videos - 3 Best Practices

2012 CWS bullpen - photo by Dave Decker

2012 CWS bullpen - photo by Dave Decker

(Originally posted February 2013)

How to proactively use your College Baseball Recruiting Video 

I have had the honor of helping many high school baseball players create college baseball recruiting videos.  These videos showcase the skills and talents of a player in 3 to 5 minutes.  The videos usually live on the web (ie: Youtube), where search engines find them and include them in results for searches such as “high school baseball player Class of 2015” and the like.  These videos can also be added to online baseball recruiting services via a link. 

More directly, links to your video can be sent directly to a college coach with an introductory email expressing your interest in a particular baseball program or college/university.  The beauty of this method, is that it allows a player who wants to play college baseball to be proactive in his marketing.  A player can actually approach college coaches and make a connection to get the ball rolling for future conversations.  College programs are always looking for players, and players are looking for a college program - the trick is in making the connection to find the right fit for both parties.  

3 Best Practices for using your College Baseball Recruiting Video

1. Do your homework!  What are your educational goals for college? What sort of baseball program would you like to play with: DI, DII, DIII, NAIA, J.C., in what part of the country, etc.. What schools fit your criteria? Use the web, and your high school counselor.   Create a spreadsheet with the schools, locations, coaches, email addresses and urls, and any additional information pertinent to your search and interest.  Add schools/programs as you come across them.  Use this master spreadsheet to keep track of who you contact by email, if you hear back from them, what you hear back, any notes regarding your correspondence/conversations, and what you need to do next, etc.. This document will help keep you on track and organized.

2. Create an introductory email template which you will use to contact the coaches you have listed in your spreadsheet.  The email should be friendly in nature, concise, and respectful.  Your style, approach and information will be unique to you.   Here is a example of what it might be like:

 

Dear Coach ________,

My name is Joe Smith, and I am a student at Central High School in Hometown, State.  I am in the class of 2____, and play (position/s) on the _________________ team, and the _______________ team here in Hometown.  

 

I am very interested in ____________ college/university and the baseball program.  (Tell the coach why you are interested in their program in particular/ what did you learn about their baseball program/academic opportunities from your research that aligns with your interests?)

 

In my college search  I am looking to find the right fit for my academic and baseball goals and am very interested in learning more about the opportunities at __________ college/university.  I am including my contact information below, along with a link to my short baseball recruiting video.

 

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.  I appreciate any feedback you have on my recruiting video.  Thank you for your time, and have a great season!

 

Sincerely,

 

Name

Contact information

(Link to Recruiting Video)

 

3.  Customize each email you send.  Make sure you have the correct coach (recruiting) and their name is spelled correctly!  Have an understanding of who the college team is and what the college/university offers, and tell the coach what appeals to you about this.  Ask questions if you have them – it starts a conversation!  Respect the coaches’ time - they are very busy people.  Therefore,  you’ll want to get your message across clearly and concisely.  Be prompt to follow up if they reply to you - it’s a great way to make a good impression and shows you are serious and dependable - good recruit potential!

Bonus best practice:  To help get a feel for what kind of college is a good fit, go visit some local colleges.  Take the admissions tour, and see what the local schools are all about.   Visit a variety - big and small.  When you are on the road, take a couple hours to visit campuses in the area.  This really gives you a good feel for what you like and don’t like - helping you narrow down your focus to the type of schools which would fit you best.  You want to make sure that both the academic offerings and athletic opportunities appeal to you.  And enjoy the process - there are many great schools and baseball programs out there!

Photo above:  2012 College World Series Bullpen - UCLA

By Dave Decker ©2012

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