Online recruiting service helps link athletes with colleges

Colleges have turned to social media in search of scholarship athletes.

When Rachel Cho decided at the beginning of her senior year of high school in British Columbia to pursue a collegiate running career in the United States, she hadn’t even heard of Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

Less than six months later, she accepted a scholarship offer to the Division II school more than 3,000 miles away.

The school and athlete got connected in what has become an increasingly popular fashion, by using the website Like a form of online dating to connect interested athletes and schools, beRecruited has brought efficiency to what had been an overwhelming process.

“I saw that they looked at my profile, and that’s how it all started,” Cho said. “It really streamlined the process. I’m not the most exceptional athlete you’ll see, but I was good enough for Division II. Most people think it’s hard to get recruited because there are so many athletes out there. This does make it a lot easier.”

Many elite athletes, especially in higher-profile sports like football and basketball, still get recruited the old-fashioned way, through tournaments, relationships between coaches and schools, and in-person scouting.

But internet recruiting services are a boon to athletes in sports like swimming, volleyball, and track, as well as those seeking opportunities to play football or basketball at smaller schools.

“We are for the 99 percent, not the 1 percent,” said Vishwas Prabhakara, the CEO of beRecruited.

Founded by former Duke swimmer Ryan Spoon in 2000 as an attempt to streamline recruiting in swimming and diving for athletes and coaches, the service expanded to other sports and has been growing rapidly since.

The site serves athletes and coaches in 31 sports and has more than 1 million registered users. There are more than 500,000 current high school athletes on the service, with the growth going from about 85,000 members of the class of 2009 to more than 200,000 athletes graduating high school this year.

There are athletes from more than 80 percent of all U.S. high schools using the service, and about two-thirds of college coaches are registered.

The growth has been fueled in part by the fact that registration for athletes is free, compared to the hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars some recruiting services charge. Students can pay $60 to find out what coaches have looked at their profile.

“It was a really great way to communicate to colleges and see which ones look at me, instead of me just reaching out to college coaches,” said Nikki Bond, a basketball player from Vancouver, Wash., who will play next season for Corban University in Oregon.

“It made it simple. It’s hard to talk to college coaches all the time on the phone. You can take 10 minutes out of the day and see every single coach who bookmarked or looked at your page. It’s a faster and simpler way to get recruited.”

With so many athletes having used the service successfully so far, the site is able to give out advice about how best to go about the recruiting process.

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