By Avi Stopper
One of the best recruiting things you'll ever do is visit college campuses. Visits show you what colleges are really like. They take you way beyond glossy websites and brochures and show you all the bumps, scrapes, and hidden delights colleges have to offer.
If you can, schedule your visit with the coach. That way, when you get there, you'll find a schedule waiting for you that lists the people you'll stay with, who you'll go to class with, when meals are, and so on. Then again, maybe you won't get the royal treatment. Don?t worry if this happens. Some coaches roll out the red carpet for recruits. Others require you to be more self-sufficient. Either way, a can-do attitude will go a long way.
Your visit is your one real chance to investigate the school and the team. You have a ton of say in this whole decision. You may be trying to convince the coach to recruit you, but he has to convince you that his school and team are great as well. Remember, if you don?t like a college, you don?t have to go there just because the coach wants you to come.
Most importantly, this is where you might go to college. Ask yourself these questions: does it feel like home? Does it feel like a great place to spend four years? Does the campus have the right vibe?
Of course, this is also where you might play for the next four years. Do you like what you see in terms of style, the quality of play, the quality of coaching, the team?s attitude on the field, as well as the social dynamic off the field?
While you're on campus, ditch your parents. Much as they might like to relive the glory years, this is your college experience. Take the tour with your parents and then go off with some of the kids on the team. Get the real college experience by staying in the dorms with them and eating in the cafeteria.
Finally, you have to meet with the coach. Try to sit down with him one-on-one. Ask for a tour of the facilities, watch a practice, and a game. In the few days that you're there, do as much as you can to simulate what your college experience there would be like. Then, once you get home, be honest with yourself by answering one key question: How did you like it?
Avi Stopper coached at the University of Chicago and is the founder of CaptainU.com.