College recruiting expert Jack Renkens has a message for would-be college sports stars and their parents: Expand your horizons.
“Somebody has to go out there and tell the truth,” said Renkens, who offered some eye-openers Wednesday night to a crowd of about five dozen at Mt. Spokane High School.
Covering subjects as diverse as recruiting services, social media and walk-ons, Renkens tied them all together in an hour-long session that he hopes will steer parents and athletes in the right direction. Even if that direction leads them far from home.
“If you have six schools that you love, go out and find 200 more,” Walker advised, rattling off the names of dozens of schools that drew shrugs in the audience. And for those worried about being homesick, he challenged the audience to name a school that’s located more than an eight-hour flight away.
Wednesday’s example was Simpson College, a Division III school in Iowa with strong academics – and a $30,000 annual tuition. “You should consider it,” he told one girl in the audience.
“And isn’t that the point?” Renkens said, answering his own question. “This isn’t a four-year decision, it’s a 40-year decision, and you want to have the right match academically,” said Renkens, who heads Arizona-based Recruiting Realities. Renkens’ fee was paid for by the Mt. Spokane ASB.
The key to a successful match, Renkens said, is leverage; in other words, offers from competing schools that will keep the athlete in the driver’s seat on the road to a college education.
The biggest mistake, he said, is having your heart set on a few schools, and having that heart broken at the end of the bench as a walk-on.
“I’m pretty adamant about that: As a walk-on, you’ve got a one-in-a-hundred shot,” said Renkens, adding that he spends every September consoling hundreds of parents of walk-ons.
“They don’t pay if you don’t play,” a mantra Renkens repeated several times.
In the meantime, athletes need to get the word out to any schools that might be interested. Many recruiting services are predatory and offer only minimal services.
“Some of the services are good, but the reason there are so many is that people have found you can make money from it,” Renkens said. “If they only charge a one-time fee, that’s good. If they go from an up-front fee to annual or monthly fees, that’s bad.”
Renkens does not endorse any service, but lauded the National Collegiate Scouting Association for offering a 90-day money-back guarantee for its services.
The cost can climb past $1,000, but Renkens said the price is worth the national exposure.
But all the time and expense will go to waste if students don’t mind their manners in the rough-and-tumble world of social media.
Citing a recent sexting case that led to dozens of suspensions of San Diego-area high school students, Renkens pulled out his cellphone and asked if anyone else carried one.
The chuckles subsided when Renkens reminded them that their bad behavior can go viral at a moment’s notice.
Parents didn’t get off without a warning about negativity toward their high school coaches, on and off the field. Each of them received a handout with Renkens’ 11-point plan to “Positive Sports Parenting.”