The decision to try to run collegiately comes with many questions. AlabamaRunners has spoken with many of the distance coaches at the Universities throughout the state to get their take on the recruiting process. In this installment we spoke to Coach Rod Tiffin, the Track / Cross Country coach at Samford University.
What are some good things high school kids do to get noticed/"self-market" themselves?
I feel that the athlete needs to be proactive. Don't be afraid to look up teams you are interested in and then if it looks like a fit get in touch with the coach and let them know you are interested..
What are some bad things high school kids have done to get noticed/"self-market" themselves?
I guess they say all press is good press but I do sometimes feel that athletes compete in a bubble and don't look around the country to see where they fit in, this sometimes causes athletes to have inflated egos and feel they are "big time". I guess its a sublet line between confidence and cockiness.
What amount of scholarship should kids expect? Do full rides really exist?
Full scholarships do exists but it has to be the right fit at the right time. Our rule of thumb is that the Prospective student athlete (PSA) we are looking at is ready to be a National or regional qualifier. Sometimes even then its not the right time and the money is not available for that event area. The big thing is if you want to be at a specific place be honest with the coaches on what you will need to attend and they can let you know if you are in the same ball park saves a lot of time on both sides, and coaches are not offended.
When can high school athletes contact you? Is it helpful for them to contact you or do you prefer to contact athletes?
They can contact at any time and as much as they want, I enjoy having athletes call because it does show there is interest and that the student athlete is an independent thinker and mature young adult.
When can a high school athlete visit a college, will they be able to check out the program when they come?
Same answer, they can visit anytime except during a dead period and can always view the facilities.
What personality traits define the best kids you have coached?
Independent, driven young people. What we give are opportunities while we are coaching. We let people know the best way to reach a specific goal but in truth it is up to the individual whether they will take and incorporate the information we are giving.
What are some personality traits that make kids harder to coach?
Really the only thing s I have issues with are student athletes that feel they have all the answers, not real sure why athletes like that even attend colleges.
Does an athlete need 4-6 years of JH/HS Cross Country / Track in order to be competitive for a scholarship?
Length of their career training base all depends upon the person, I have recruited athletes after one year of competition and athletes that have been doing it since they were 6 years old.
What purpose does a walk-on serve and should I be embarrassed about being asked to "walk on" instead of receiving a scholarship?
The walk-on are small scholarship athlete is the life blood of programs now, especially men's programs. When the NCAA will only allow you 12.6 scholarships to field 21 events you have to rely on walk ons to build depth in the program. In our program each year we first look to our small scholarship and walk on athletes to decide if they will receive more aid before we start our recruiting process.
What else do you tell kids to look for when thinking about school?
Its the biggest decision of your life up to that point so take your time and compare things apple to apples and not just get caught up in the bright lights of the recruiting process. It will always look great on a recruiting visit.
What are some questions for kids to ask any college coach they talk to?
Am I competitive on your team, in your conference, are you looking to recruit people in my event this year, how many athletes do you travel in my event to meets and is there a possibility of scholarship increases during my time here.