How To Email A College Coach About Walking On?
Communicating with college coaches about becoming a walk-on as a high school student may seem intimidating, especially if you are unsure whether your talent level is as high as some of their recruits. But, there are easy ways to stand out in a coaches’ inbox and increase your chances of getting a response. A walk-on player is one who was not recruited, nor has an athletic scholarship from the university, but expresses a willingness to be on the team. If you are interested in being a walk-on at a particular college, it is important to reach out to the coach beforehand, but knowing exactly what to say is important.
When emailing a coach about being a walk-on you should introduce yourself, be direct and personal about why you want to be a walk-on, send highlight reels, and describe how you are a good fit for the university and its athletic program. For many teams, walk-on spots can be just as competitive as scholarship spots, and thus you should send similar information as a scholarship player would. You can begin to contact coaches as early as you want, but remember they cannot respond until a certain date in your junior year, depending on the sport, according to NCAA rules.
In your junior year you want to begin creating your highlight reel in order to send to coaches. Many walk-ons get invited to play at schools by sending this in or by having their coaches refer them. These athletes are called preferred walk-ons. Another way to join a team as a walk-on is to participate in a try-out. If the university you want to attend has a tryout, you may not need to send an email to the coach beforehand, but it may still be helpful in getting the coach familiar with you and in starting to build a relationship.
What To Include In Your Email
If you are looking to be a preferred walk-on at a university and want to reach out to the coach before you begin attending the university there are a few key elements you should include in your email.
Subject Line: One of the most important parts of your email is the subject line. Coaches receive thousands of emails a day, and they base which ones they open based largely on the subject lines. Thus, it is important that your subject line is clear, succinct, and attention grabbing. You should include the year you would be joining the team, the fact that you are interested in being a walk-on, your position, and any impressive stats that may be eye catching to a coach. For example: Todd Smith 2030 QB Walk-On Recruit, 4,000 passing yards, 30 touchdowns.
Email Body: In your email you should introduce yourself and start out by expressing your interest in being a walk-on. You should also include where you are from, your high school, your travel team, and your graduation year. You can then include your GPA and any relevant SAT or ACT scores so the coach can know if you are at the academic level of the college. Lastly, you should describe your athletic career including any championships, awards, and impressive stats. If you have a highlight reel you should definitely include it as well. At the end of the email give them your contact information as well as your high school and/or travel coaches contact information and give them a specific next step to either give them a phone call or invite them to watch you compete.
Walk-On Coordinator: Some schools have designated Walk-On Coordinators. Research to see if the college you are interested in has a coordinator and if so email them as well as the college coach. It also can be helpful to have your high school or travel coach get in touch with the college coach or Walk-On Coordinator as well.
It is important to remember that coaches receive thousands of emails a day, and thus it is important to make the subject line of your email clear, succinct, and attention grabbing so that they are more likely to respond.
Should I Become A Walk-On
Each program treats walk-ons differently so it is important to discuss with coaches what your status would be as a walk-on with regard to playing time and responsibilities.
Playing Time: In general as a walk-on playing time is much lower and you might not be given the same level of access to academic and athletic support as scholarship athletes. Thus, if you are used to being a starter and being a large player on the team you might become frustrated with your experience as a walk-on. Therefore, it is important to truly consider whether being a walk-on is a good choice for you.
What It Takes: Strong work ethic, love for the sport, a competitive spirit, tenacity, and good teamwork skills are essential in being a walk-on. You will also need to ensure that you can support yourself financially since you will not receive scholarship money. If you believe that you match these attributes and are a good fit for the program, trying to become an unrecruited walk-on may be a good decision for you.
What It’s Like To Be A College Walk-On
The experience of a walk-on truly should not feel different from that of a scholarship athlete besides from the fact that you will not receive financial aid for textbooks, a meal plan, and other perks.
Your Experience: But, as a college walk-on it is important to treat each practice as if it were like a try out. As a walk-on you have to prove to your coach that he made the right decision in adding you to the team so that you will not get cut and rather will receive playing time. Coaches should treat you with the same form of respect as scholarship players but you may have to be prepared for scrutiny from players and other individuals at your university. A coach may have wanted you on his team but had already given out all scholarships so you should not feel as if you are lesser than other players.
The Commitment: As a walk-on you will likely participate fully in all practices and travel with the team to all games/matches/meets and championships. Thus, you should be prepared to spend large portions of your time with your athletic team. This can make balancing academics, athletics, and a social life quite difficult so you should be prepared for this as well. You will also have some perks associated with being on an athletic team like access to the wide range of athletic facilities that your college offers and be part of a larger athletic community at your college.
Things To Keep In Mind
Personal Communication: Remember to be personal in your email to coaches. This will help you stand out. It is also important to start communicating with coaches in your high school career as soon as you know you would be interested in being a walk-on. This will help you start to build relationships with coaches so that you will be top of mind when they are selecting walk-ons or holding tryouts.
Fit: If you are thinking about being a walk-on at a university make sure that your academic and athletic goals are a correct fit for the university and its athletic program. Do not pick a university solely on the fact that a coach has stated you can be a walk-on because you may not enjoy your time there as much.
Status: Many high school athletes may only want to be a walk-on at a university with high status or top-ranking programs. But it is important to remember that you should initially look for fit and the possibility of playing time. At colleges with a strong starting lineup you may not receive much playing time as a walk-on compared to schools with lower budgets or in lower divisions.
Time-Commitment: Even as a walk-on the time commitment is just as high as for a scholarship athlete. College sports can usually take up most of your time outside of the classroom so if you have other passions you want to pursue you might need to reconsider if trying to become a walk-on is the right choice for you.