Joshua Yaro is a Ghanaian-born soccer star on the Georgetown University men's team who was slated to become the number one overall pick in this year's Major League Soccer draft, before deciding to stay in school. He was not only the Big East Defensive Player of the Year but also on the Dean's List. Even more unique about Yaro is that he was recruited out of a small California boarding school called Cate, thousands of miles away from Georgetown.
Though Joshua and I have never met, I've known about his recruitment to Georgetown since February of 2013, when he signed his National Letter of Intent. No, I'm not a soccer fanatic; rather, we attended the same high school, and our alma mater did a nice job of announcing his recruitment to all alumni.
As in Yaro's case, when athletes are successfully recruited to continue their careers at the collegiate level, their high schools should properly document and promote their accomplishment.
Despite the fact that some people are put off by the significant attention paid to recruiting, sports play a large role in American culture, and a high school athlete getting recruited to play at any level of college is at least newsworthy to the alumni and local community.
The most publicized instances today consist of a highly coveted recruit in either football or men's basketball appearing in front of his entire school and TV reporters to announce which college he'll attend. Such attention makes perfect sense because there are millions of fans anticipating where such prized student-athletes will compete in college, as they can produce tremendous exposure and revenue for their future schools.
But while the media coverage is extensive surrounding marquee recruits in college's two revenue-generating sports, many high schools fail to realize that they should be proactive in publicizing all of their athletes' college recruitments, even when they don't have a nationally recognized college prospect. In fact, such publicity should include both male and female athletes going on to compete in all sports at any level beyond high school. Here's why:
Give Proper Credit
Having a high school graduate go on to compete in college is always an achievement worth highlighting. Out of all of the athletes in their respective recruiting classes, they have been selected from a national and sometimes even international talent pool to advance their athletic careers. Being chosen to play for a college team is an honor and a testament to not only their talent but also their dedication.
Increase Local Exposure
While recruiting in revenue-generating sports is usually national news, the recruitment of athletes in any sport is relevant to their respective local communities. Local sports writers are responsible for tracking this news and reporting it to the public; however, the information can be difficult to gather. When high schools take more initiative in reporting their college recruitments, they can better ensure that all athletes receive proper recognition and also help inspire younger athletes within the community.
Drive Alumni Engagement
Alumni tend to care a great deal about what is happening with their high schools. However, high schools frequently struggle to aggregate and publish compelling news that keeps alumni engaged. Annually reporting if any graduates have been recruited to play sports in college and which schools they'll attend is an easy way to keep many alumni connected to the school. And highly engaged alumni tend to be more likely to donate.
For high schools looking to better publicize their recruited athletes, here's how:
Check the legitimacy of each college recruitment, as there have been infamous follies in this respect. For instance, a football player once deceived his entire school and community into thinking he'd accepted a scholarship to play for the University of California, Berkeley. While colleges may be prohibited to comment on a recruit's status until a certain date, high school coaches are often a reliable resource. High schools may even go so far as to review the formal documentation that is typically sent to recruits.
Tell the Full Story
Interview the athletes and learn how they were recruited, which other colleges were recruiting them and what factors drove their final decision. Record the interviews and post them under the athletics section of the high school's website. Over time, the school will develop a repository of information that tells a more enriched story of its athletics program.
Share the college commitment stories on social media and be sure to engage local journalists, alumni groups and the colleges they'll be attending. Especially because they don't play on TV, smaller colleges can also benefit from the additional exposure.