Going To Camp
When I started my career as a college scout I focused all my energy on basketball. I had a basketball background because that’s the sport I played in high school, college, and professionally overseas.
I just did what the college coaches would do and that was go out and scout players. I used to go to a lot of games. When I finally settled in Cleveland, Ohio I went to basketball games in the city, suburbs, and beyond.
I felt the best way to really boost up my credibility in this business was to be seen and make a name for myself with high school coaches, players, and parents and the best way to do that was to be at all the basketball games.
When I started signing up student-athletes I was networking with a lot of college coaches in Ohio. I was getting a lot of those kids placed in college.
When many of these college coaches would come into the Cleveland area for the All-Star games or just for any game I tried to be there to meet the coach face-to-face. Then it got to the point where some of them wanted to invite me to their summer camps.
All through the 90s I went to summer camps. I wasn’t going there to more or less observe players and watch them play basketball all day.
I was more interested in picking the brain of the coach. I wanted to know firsthand what the college coach was looking for when it came to recruiting.
I have seen basketball players play All My Life so it wasn’t a big deal, but I never really had an opportunity to sit down with a college coach and just ask questions about recruiting and players, what they look for, everything. I was getting a crash course in recruiting.
The reason I was doing this was so I could sign up more student-athletes and, obviously, if I did that I would make more money. This was the long game that I was playing. I was thinking long-term and Big Time.
Over the next 10 years plus, I kept getting invited to camps. I became addicted to going to basketball summer camps. It seemed as though every college program, from division one and everything in between, had a summer camp. Some of the camps were really large with over a thousand players. Some camps were kind of small, but I was there anyway.
Sometimes I would be at one camp that would last a week and ended on a Sunday with the next camp started the next day on Monday. Most of the camps that I went to were in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
I knew for a long time that I wanted to be in this business. The more I was around the game, the more I loved it. I really enjoyed talking to the college coaches.
Once they got to know me it was almost like we became best friends. It didn’t hurt throughout those years that I sent them players. Many of the college programs were small division one, division two, division three, and NAIA programs. They all needed players and I had the players.
I always believed, and I think it’s still true, that the easiest part of being in this business is getting the kids recruited and placed in college especially if you have a strong network of college coaches. I had that network and it was easy for me to just pick up the phone and tell a coach about a couple of players.
Back in those days, there was no social media so I really couldn’t share my stories and show pictures of the camps I attended and the coaches I hung around with.
College scouts nowadays have a huge advantage. You got amazing social media platforms where you can tell the world and even show them everything you’re doing.
Why not be transparent and talk about the camp you are at? Show pictures, videos of you with the players, parents, and the coaches. Talk about the camps, talk about your experiences, tell stories about what’s going on.
How To Build That Network
Go To Camp: If you’re sending college coaches players, ask them about summer camp and if you can attend. Sometimes these camps are just for a weekend while others may last an entire week.
Focus on picking the college coach’s brain. Take notes. Obviously you want to observe what the players are doing, but find out what the coach’s philosophy is on recruiting and the style of players they’re looking for.
Imagine you having a notebook full of notes and then you go back to your city to go out and find those players for those college coaches are looking for. You will have a network of college coaches for life.
Also keep in mind that those assistant coaches become head coaches and those assistant coaches and head coaches change jobs and go to other programs. Your network has now become 10 times larger. You will be the best college scout in the entire state because you have a solid network of college coaches and that is going to help you grow your business.
Network With College Coaches: The network you build with college coaches is going to help you in so many ways to get the student-athletes recruited and placed in college. It will help you to sign up more student-athletes because you’re going to tell those stories on social media. You’re going to be in pictures with college coaches.
You’re going to be at camps with college coaches. Just remember this: what is unseen counts for nothing. Basically, people go by what they see and the parents of high school student-athletes need to trust you. They need to know that you know what you’re doing and that you know what you’re talking about.
Specialized Sports: I started out going to basketball camps because that was the sport I played. There may be a sport you can also specialize in, a sport you love and you’re passionate about. Start out with your passion. Deal with your strengths. Work with the sport you know the most. Build relationships with those college coaches from the sport you have the most passion for.
Basketball is in my blood. As you’re reading this information, there is a sport that’s in your blood as well. Work at that sport to its fullest.
Final Thoughts: I love going to camps. I love being around the game. Back in those days my focus was basketball and it seemed like I was at a game every day. I also went to a lot of open gyms. There are many recreation centers in the city of Cleveland and I was there.
There would be Saturday morning basketball practice and I would be invited to attend. I got to know a lot of high school coaches. I just loved being around the game and I loved being in that atmosphere.
Once I learned how to channel my energy and focus on my business, that’s all I wanted to do. I didn’t care what was on TV. I didn’t pay much attention to what was happening in the news.
My focus was to be around the game every single day and I knew I could have an impact on the lives of student-athletes and, to a certain degree, the success or failure of college programs.
What I mean by college programs is I could help them get players. All the coaches at the college level know strategies, but the thing they need more than anything is players.
I eventually branched off into other sports because I realized how easy it was to build relationships with college coaches.
A quote from the movie Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.”