Student-athletes preparing to go to college have big dreams. Some dream of playing in that big tournament in March. Others dream of hitting a home run and circling the diamond. It used to be that dreams like these–along with a few others–were the only ones available until the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) was formed as the governing body to advance the sport of equestrian as part of women’s collegiate athletics.
Now, young riders dream of helping their team hoist a championship trophy of their own.
Just as with other sports, the sport of collegiate equestrian can have so many questions. It can be overwhelming for the parents and the students. It’s no longer just about how you ride, but who you are as a person.
Recruiting for equestrian teams can officially start June 15 after the student’s sophomore year of high school. However, students cannot do an official visit to a prospective school until August 1st prior to your junior year in high school. (You can make as many unofficial visits to an NCEA school as you’d like–at any time–however you cannot meet with coaches until after August 1st.)
Before any official recruiting can begin, you must fill out the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Eligibility Center (aka “the clearinghouse”) form online. This is an online form for Division I and II schools that all athletes–whether you’re looking to play football or ride horses–must fill out. It’s a lot like a background check to ensure that there’s nothing in the student’s history that would make them ineligible to be a collegiate athlete.
Another important first step is to fill out the questionnaire for each school you’re interested in attending. The questionnaire can be found on the team’s website and is vital to help coaches with the recruiting process.
“The questionnaire on our website just asks for basic information like contact information and graduation year, so we know when we can contact you,” says Taylor Searles, a former student-athlete and current assistant coach at Auburn University. “There are so many kids that contact you; and while they may be in 14-18, we don’t know if they’re 15 and finishing up their sophomore year or if they are 14 and have a late birthday. This helps us to identify their graduation year so the coaches can avoid any recruiting violations.”
This can also be a location for prospective student-athletes to attach videos of their rides, so not only do they have the basic information in black and white, but also videos and more information to help put a face with the name. However, not all schools offer this option, so it’s important to ask first.
Searles explains that when she gets an email from a prospective student-athlete, she might not be able to respond to it right away. Instead, she files the emails away by the student’s graduation year, so when they’re ready to recruit out of the next graduating class, she can pull information from that folder.
Students: Do Your Own Recruiting