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Want to Run in College? Here's How to Find the Right Fit for You

By: Devin Fahey & Brian Barraza

Navigating the college recruiting process is a big challenge. But, while running fast times and having good grades is a huge piece of the process, it is crucially important for you to think about what kind of program while help you reach your goals on and off the track.

Take the time to think about what you want out of a program, then ask specific questions to your prospective coach, teammates, and athletics staff to find the best program fit for you. Here's what to ask:

Ask the Coach:

  • What are your training/racing philosophies?

  • How do you intend to accommodate my personal thoughts and philosophies towards racing/training?

  • What are your goals/Mission with the team? Short term and long term?

  • How will you support me in my academics?

  • How do you see me adding to this program?

  • How can you ensure that I will be able to be consistent and healthy through my career?

  • How do you express feedback post race? How does this change from good races to bad ones?

  • What’s your expectation for emotional care as a coach?

  • How do you handle the work life balance of being a college coach?

  • How will you express your commitment to my long term development over the next 4-5 years and possibly beyond?

  • If you could change one thing about the program, what would it be?

  • What do you see for my future?

  • How will you support me in my life outside of running?

  • How will you stand by me when life gets difficult and I struggle?

Towards the Team:

  • How does Coach act at practice?

  • How does Coach act at races?

  • What does Coach expect from the team?

  • What are the team’s goals/mission? Short term and long term?

  • What is the atmosphere around the team like?

  • Does the team interact and do many activities together?

  • Do you guys feel as if you’re close?

  • Have you stayed friends with teammates after they graduate?

  • Do you feel that Coach does a good job recruiting?

  • Is Coach accommodating to your personal lives? What about academics?

  • How many people struggle with injuries, how severe are they and how pervasive?

  • Do you feel comfortable talking to Coach about any personal issues?

  • What is your least favorite thing about the program?

Towards the Academic Staff:

  • What sort of support do you offer to support me in my academics?

  • What resources will be available to me? Does this change if I start to struggle? What if I’m doing well?

  • How involved in academics is Coach?

  • What are the academic expectations from the individuals on the team? What about the team as a whole?

  • How many people on the team struggle academically? Why do you think that is?

About the Authors

Devin Fahey (first and second photo) and Brian Barraza (second and third photo) were teammates on the University of Houston's D1 Cross Country and Track & Field teams. Brian currently runs professionally for Tinman Elite in Boulder, Colorado, and Devin is entering his final year of collegiate eligibility at U of H. Both Brian and Devin coach high school athletes and help them navigate the recruiting process.

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