Empowering Athletes for a Life Without Limits

The recruitment process for student-athletes looking to compete in collegiate track and field and cross country programs can feel overwhelming. It's critical for athletes and parents to understand the rules and timeline so that they can create a plan to make the best decisions possible down the road. Certain rules may vary by division, but many general guidelines are applicable to all schools. Here's a breakdown of some key checkpoints and NCAA timelines. Please note that the rules on timing of visits and recruitment have changed as recently as 2023, and that it's important to be mindful of the most current updates.

Freshman/Grade 9

Although college may feel distant during your freshman (grade 9 in Canada) year, it's a good time to start learning about the collegiate track and field landscape and setting initial, but flexible, goals for yourself. One of the most important things you can do at this stage to keep all options open is to maintain high grades in the classroom. During your first year of high school, official recruitment conversations with coaches are not allowed with NCAA schools. However, some preliminary steps student-athletes can take at this time include registering for the relevant eligibility center account. Additionally, at age 14, athletes can create a free account with Streamline Athletes, giving easy access to helpful information on a range of collegiate programs.

Sophomore/Grade 10

This year, you'll start laying down more performances on the track, cross country course, or in the field events. Researching programs and understanding recruiting standards at schools you may be interested in can help you get an idea of what level of programs may be a good match for you athletically. If you didn't register for the relevant eligibility center account during your freshman year, now is a good time to do so. Especially if you are looking to start a list of specific schools, upgrading your account to Streamline Athletes Plus is a great option. One-on-one advising sessions are also available, and can be extremely helpful as you begin more targeted research. For NCAA schools, recruiting conversations with coaches can begin on June 15 following this year. However, there is still plenty of time to establish your best marks athletically, so don't panic if you don't hear from your number-one picks at this stage!

Junior/Grade 11

Junior year has a reputation for being the most important for college recruitment and preparation, and for good reason. Performances athletically and academically this year are critical, as marks (especially in track and field) set during senior year may be established after a commitment has already been made. In the classroom, this year is the best time to begin preparing for the ACT and/or SAT. Be sure to check the requirements for schools on your list and submit scores to these schools. You should also be registered with the relevant eligibility center by this time.

With enough information and an organized plan in place, this doesn't have to be a stressful time. Streamline Athletes services, including the advising sessions, and potentially upgrading to a Pro account, are a great way to alleviate some of the pressure. Communication with college coaches during this time is critical–be sure to stay on top of emails! A little professionalism goes a long way.

Visits to college campuses can also start in grade 11. For NCAA Division 1 schools, the start date for official visits is August 1 prior to the start of junior year. Seeing campus life in person can be extremely helpful in guiding your decision-making process. The number of visits student-athletes are permitted to take is now unlimited; however, visits do take quite a bit of time and energy, so choose judiciously! Home visits, where coaches come to your house to meet with you, may also take place, but aren't as common.

Senior/Grade 12

By your senior year, you should have a solid idea of your options. Communicating with coaches at the schools you're most interested in will help you decide when to plan the remainder of your visitsβ€”or they may all take place this year depending on your own timing. Financial questions should be answered this year, and scholarship offers may be made verbally or in writing.

In terms of commitments, it's common for student-athletes to choose a school verbally prior to signing an NLI (National Letter of Intent), a legally binding agreement. The signing period typically begins in November and extends throughout the academic year. Student-athletes also need to decline offers from schools they don't plan to attend.

Academically, any SAT/ACT requirements should be completed in the autumn if possible. You'll also need to complete applications for the school(s) you wish to attend. It may be beneficial to start working on these as early as possible, especially if the colleges you're considering have special requirements. This can help take stress off your plate as you narrow down the decision process. For example, the University of California system applications open in August and close at the end of November.



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