The Art of the Cold Call

By Bill Manning

Photo by Peter Spurrier.

The best way to get recruited is to contact college coaches, express your interest, and tell them about yourself.  Rowers cannot sit back and wait to be discovered. If you want the college rowing opportunity, then take the initiative and reach out.

No universal best time to contact college coaches exists, but there is a sweet spot to reach out to each program. Coaches are generally not ready to hear from freshmen, but they all want to know about prospects before they’re seniors. Early summer following sophomore year is a good time to reach out, but later can work too.

That said, if you receive an email from an interesting college asking you to submit their recruiting questionnaire then do so. Get yourself included in a team’s database rather than wait until you have more to share. As you acquire new results you should update your questionnaire and/or email the coach.

The recruiting questionnaire is where it begins for prospects initiating contact, too. Even if you create a beautiful resume and write a terrific email, the college coach is still going to direct you to their questionnaire. Best to submit the questionnaire and also email the coach. You can expand upon the questionnaire and make a more personal connection too.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

1. Use an appropriate email address. If you picked your email back in sixth grade you may want to create a specific email address for recruiting purposes. “ILikeToParty@hotmail” won’t win you any points (True example!)

2. Email the head coach or the recruiting coordinator. If in doubt, cc the entire coaching staff.

3. Address the coach as “Coach” or “Mr./Ms”. Do not use their first name unless invited to do so.

4. Own your erg time. No excuses. Also, when reporting your erg time always indicate your weight and when it was done.

5. Own your GPA. Again, no excuses. Make it clear whether you’re reporting an Un-weighted or a Weighted GPA. It’s fine to highlight improvement and that your recent GPA is stronger but coaches need to know your cumulative high school GPA.

6. Do not send a resume filled with extra-curricular activities that are non-athletic. Coaches are looking for athletes who want to row; not do a million different things on campus.

7. Always sign your first AND last name; never just your first. Better still: include the name of your school or club team beneath your name.

8. Proofread your email; especially if you have attempted to personalize it for each individual program you write to. It’s shocking how often coaches receive emails intended for other programs.