The best way to get noticed by a college track team is to give notice. Let college coaches, recruiters and athletes know that you are applying to college soon and would like to join up. Unlike many sports, most college track teams offer spots to walk-ons. Unfortunately, a track team is less likely to offer anyone a scholarship--according to NCAA rules, Division 1 teams can only offer 18 scholarships for women and 12.6 scholarships for men. And even with these scholarships, they are generally spread among many athletes. The bottom line is if you like to run track and have a good academic record, you can join a college team.
Talk to your high school coach. He will know some college recruiters and if you have potential he will sing your praises to them. A coach on your side will also point you in the right direction; which colleges you should contact, how you should train to be ready for a college team and what events you can train for to make you even more competitive.
Go online to the college's athletic website. Almost every college has a form on its website to contact the track coach. These can be as simple as filling out your name, address and personal records in your events.
Improve your performances. The best runners will always be recognized and receive scholarships. If this means cross-training in the fall and summer, then do it. If it means giving up basketball to focus full-time on running, then that is an important step. Those who receive scholarships are not simply recruited on the basis of their times, but also their potential. If you are a hard worker, coaches will see that and be more likely to recruit you.
Attend camps in the summer. Many colleges offer camps where you can meet the coaches and team and train with them. Nike offers several running camps that are good places to run and be seen. Many are as short as a week but are nevertheless quite demanding.
Go to the most important track meets. The Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a meeting-ground each spring for the best track athletes. Make it a point to attend a local or national track meet where recruiters will be in attendance.
Visit the colleges you are most interested in attended. College "official visits" are a great way to get to know the college and get the college coach to know you. You can meet the coach, see the team and meet some of the athletes. This is a good way to know if you are compatible with the program and for the coach to know if he is compatible with you.
Tips & Warnings
- Do well academically in high school. You will be that much more desirable to the best programs if they know you are an academic all-star.
- Let friends on your team know you want to be noticed by a track team. They will often have leads and suggestions that may be just as valuable as your coach's help.
- Do not be disappointed. Track scholarships are very competitive and they are often not awarded evenly. If you are happy with running on the team, then you will be satisfied, but if you are looking for a free ride to college, you may be disappointed.
- Make sure you know when college coaches can contact you. According to NCAA rules, for Division 1 there are certain "quiet periods" such as parts of the summer and winter vacations, when recruiters and coaches are not allowed to have contact with high school students.
- Do not accept gifts or money from anyone connected to a college. This could disqualify you, according to NCAA rules.