That broad piece of advice was among a small mountain of information presented by coaches and players at a collegiate athletic information workshop Tuesday night. The forum was sponsored by the Barrington Boosters Club and the high school guidance department.
Julie Ruggieri has first-hand experience of life as a D-I athlete and the transition process from high school to college. Ruggieri was a varsity athlete at Barrington High School who played field hockey, basketball and lacrosse. She was a member of the BHS Class of 2007 and played field hockey at Providence College.
The process that brought Ruggieri to PC, however, started years before graduation. She played on a travel club team early on in high school and by sophomore year had compiled a list of 10 schools she was interested in. Ms. Ruggieri e-mailed each of the schools with a résumé detailing her athletic achievements and a list of showcases where coaches or scouts could stop by to see her in action.
Ms. Ruggieri later identified five school for “official visits – An incredibly in-depth campus tour that includes class visits, a look at campus life and a chance to see how coaches interact with players among other opportunities spread over a day or two.
Ms. Ruggieri said the experience is a necessity for high school athletics eyeing a collegiate career.
“It really gives you a sense of the whole college campus,” she said.
Ultimately, Ms. Ruggieri’s choice came down to two schools, PC and Louisville. She said each athlete needs to figure out what is important to them in selecting a college. For Ruggieri, it was academics and the answer to a rhetorical question posed by her mother – If you were injured couldn’t play anymore, would you love where you were?
Ms. Ruggieri chose PC for its elementary and special education undergraduate program. Today, she’s moving towards a Master’s in counseling and works in the school athletic office.
Ms. Ruggieri also provided some insight on life under a D-I schedule. Her classes ran from about 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. five days a week with an hour and a half to two hour lift sessions three times a week. Practices ran two and a half to three hours each day after an hour-long video session. Then there was the eight hours of study hall required of all freshman athletes, a mandate that wasn’t lifted without a 3.0 GPA.
“D-I isn’t for everyone and that’s totally understandable,” Ms. Ruggieri said.
Current BHS senior Kelly Dolan is heading for a D-I athletic program this fall when she joins the Dartmouth lacrosse squad. Like Ms. Ruggieri, Dolan is a three-sport athlete who joined a club team as a sophomore. Her college search started around the same time with a list of school she was interested in and plenty of communication with coaches.
“Don’t wait for coaches to come to you,” Dolan said.
“Just get your name out there.”
The importance of building relationships with potential schools and coaches was echoed by a number of other high school athletes such as senior cross country runner Tom Barry who is heading for D-III Colby next year.
“Make sure they’re focusing on you,” added senior thrower Charlie Ionata.
Chris Flint had a slightly different perspective on the recruiting process than others on the panel. He’s the head coach for Bryant University’s girls’ soccer team with experience at the D-I, D-II and D-III levels. Flint said the rules for recruiting vary from division-to-division and sport-to-sport. He advised players and parents to get up to speed on these regulations themselves.
Flint also said club and travel teams tend to get more attention from college coaches than high school teams.
Overall, Flint stressed the importance of players and parents researching potential schools and programs as thoroughly as possible. Clinics can be valuable, he said, as can both official and unofficial visits.
“You have to do your homework. I can’t stress that enough,” Flint said.
“The more educated you become the better off you’ll be.”
One important step for any athlete looking to play in D-I or D-II is clearing NCAA eligibility requirements. Students should access the eligibility center website as soon as possible to create a profile and make sure they are on track to complete all necessary courses, among other requirements.
“The sooner you get an idea of what’s required the more time you have to fill those requirements,” said Boosters president Kevin Ryan.
Two of those on hand for the session were high school sophomore Gracie Restituyo and her mom, Betsy. Gracie plays basketball, field hockey and track and field and said she learned plenty from the workshop.
“You need to get ahead on where you want to go and you need to start doing it now,” Gracie said.
“Otherwise it might cost you.”
The tale of the tape
For athletes, providing potential college coaches with video of their in-game performance has long has been an integral part of the application and recruitment process.
Today, however, putting together a highlight reel has never been easier thanks to modern technology.
The Barrington Boosters Club is currently funding Hudl.com access for Barrington High School teams and students. The system allows coaches and players to review any uploaded game footage.
Individual players can be highlighted and video can be stopped at specific points with embedded comments or tips.
Players can also edit videos into smaller clips to create highlight packages. Barrington High School wrestling coach Drew Genetti presented the system in action Tuesday night and said it’s a lot easier to use than the VHS setup he had in high school.
“It saves a lot of time,” Genetti said.
Genetti urged coaches and players to become active using the technology. The high school currently has cameras available to record games. Genetti said coaches, players and even parents can operate these cameras though coaches are the only ones allowed to upload footage.
“We have a venue for you to be seen,” said Boosters president Kevin Ryan.
Ryan also advised students to put their best clips early in videos while Genetti said athletes should have someone else look at their reel before its sent out. Genetti also advised students against adding music.