Why Are Recruits Ghosting Us?

By Lindsay Hughes, Graduate Assistant, DeSales University  @DSU_WomensLax

After finishing my collegiate athletic career and moving on to my first college coaching position I was eager to take on the new challenges that come with being a coach that I had not yet experienced from a player perspective. Recruiting was a part of the job that I was particularly eager to participate in.  As I applied and interviewed for coaching positions a crucial question I asked was, “as a graduate assistant, will I be active in the recruiting process?” Rachel Smith, the inaugural head coach at DeSales University responded with exactly what I needed to hear to know that DSU was the place I wanted to be. She was excited to add me to her coaching staff and get me started watching, finding, and communicating with current and new prospective student-athletes.

Photo courtesy of DeSales Athletics.

I was familiar with some of the recruiting process as a collegiate player aspiring to coach. I worked with my college head coach to meet with, tour, and host recruits looking to join our program. As an assistant coach I was able to take on more of the process from start to finish. However, I soon found that the biggest struggle came when recruits “ghosted” me. Why did this happen? What could I do to change it?

I use the term “ghosting” to exemplify the action from recruits who suddenly cease contact, leave emails and texts unread, and calls unanswered. Today, “ghosting” is a term commonly used in relationships when one partner stops all communication suddenly, without warning. As coaches we have a relationship with each recruit and when ghosted, find ourselves at a loss. Something I question is why recruits today find it ok to cease all communication suddenly with no warning? With today’s recruiting mainly done using technology; texts, emails, phone calls, etc. does the lack of face to face contact create a culture that leaves recruits feeling that ghosting is the norm and ok? This action seems to display the inability to handle conflict and face uncomfortable situations. The biggest example is a recruit deciding on a school that may not be ours. It is part of the job, we understand, and expect that not all recruits will find us the perfect fit for their needs. What we do hope is that they let us know. As coaches, we all take the time and make large efforts to maintain relationships with all of our recruits. The least we would like to receive is an email, text, or call to let us know; seeing or hearing the news from other outside sources is not ideal.

Do recruits think we are scary? We won’t bite (at least not most of us!). Those prospective players that call or email and are open with us about their process and decisions are the ones we all want to add to our programs as coaches. These are the well-rounded individuals we seek out. I can recall my own recruiting process being difficult and there were plenty unknowns. I had little guidance from my high school and club coaches at the time, which is now unusual with today’s club programs, however I still recall alerting all the coaches I was in contact with of my decision while thanking them for all that they did for me. Some were kind and wished me luck on my endeavors while others were more upset and didn’t hide it. This was difficult, but it was a life lesson.

My hope is that coaches and parents guide recruits to avoid the ghosting route and instead be upfront and honest. Technology is the future and will continue to be the way in which coaches and prospective student-athletes communicate. Not all conversations will be easy, however it doesn’t mean that they can be ignored. The hard conversations are the ones that will shape a student-athlete and prepare them for the future not just on the field but off it too.


4 thoughts on “Why Are Recruits Ghosting Us?

  1. Interesting topic. From the parent of former recruits, what’s more disappointing is ghosting by coaches. It’s a two way street. As a parent we encourage our children to own the recruiting process and advocate for themselves. It’s very disheartening when the adults they are communicating with don’t respond in a professional manner.


  2. The hardest part of my daughters recruiting process was calling a coach to tell her she was declining her offer and would be attending another school. My daughter was in tears but the coach couldn’t have been more gracious. Just another time that my daughter has made me proud.


  3. The communication between college coaches and recruits who in the past could have been as young as eighth grade ( yes my daughter was contacted by a college coach through her club coach at the end of eighth grade ) Is challenging. Like the previous comment, we encouraged our daughter to own the process, however there is a lot at stake and having phone conversations and sending emails with someone who is so senior to her was hard because it was her first time. There was such much at stake. Before each phone conversation she would have notes in her hand as to what she wanted to include. Emails took many minutes to compose. She wanted to struck the right tone.

    Additionally, she was doing this while being a full-time high school student taking challenging classes and being an athlete. There were easily 20 colleges reaching out to her and she did not have time to do it all.

    Your points are on target. These are hard conversations yet it is part of life. I hope that the new recruiting rules will also lead to more productive communication. At least you will be working with high school juniors, but remember while this is your full time job, these kids are participating in the recruiting process in addition to everything else they are managing. You do this all the time but for these kids it is often their first experience.

    And, as another comment addressed. Coach is ghost recruits as well.


  4. I fully understand your thoughts and do not doubt that some coaches ghost recruits, as a club coach I have witnessed this. As a Graduate Assistant Coach currently, I have both coaching and class responsibilities all year and my schedule gets packed! As Division III coaches we have more than just recruiting to focus on daily, from other department duties, to breaking down film, planning and running clinics/fundraising, practice and game planning, to working with and being responsible for 30+ student athletes.

    What I do make sure to focus on is time management and answering emails from recruits in a timely manner. I show recruits the respect I wish to get in return. Now, with that being said I cannot speak on behalf of all coaches at all programs. Our program is new, being in its second year currently. The Head Coach when starting the program built a strong foundation, one where our coaching staff puts a large emphasis on consistent and open communication channels with recruits. When recruits do not answer emails, to us, after enough time goes by, it means they are no longer interested. Yes this can hurt, but we understand the process. We do not press the matter, refraining from pressuring recruits as we feel strongly that all student-athletes should search hard to find their right fit, and not making them feel badly for their final decision. We want our committed athletes to be positive about their decision and proud to be joining our program, not pressured or regretting their verbal commitment.

    We fully grasp the schedules of our prospective student athletes, some being multiple sport athletes and/or taking high level courses, on top of family and social lives. By no means do I think the recruiting process should put a halt to all else. One of the best things I heard from a coach during my own recruiting process was, “relax, focus on enjoying your senior year, go to football games, and prom, and have a fun last season with your teammates, enjoy it”. This particular coach understood how hectic the recruiting process was for me and her words and understanding resonated with me. This is the school I ended up deciding to attend. The recruiting process is what high school students make it. It may not be easy and can be a long process, however the way in which student athletes handle it can say a lot about them to their parents, to themselves, and to prospective college coaches. A note to high school athletes in their recruiting process – Be yourself, respect coaches who take interest in you, and don’t let the stress of the process take over and/or cloud your vision as you search to find your perfect fit school.


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