Updated: Oct 6
As a student, the esports recruiting process can seem like a mountain. How do you get in front of coaches? What’s their preferred communication method? Should I reach out to the coach or wait for the coach to reach out to me? Questions like these are not uncommon and are important for a student’s transition from high school to college. Remember, not only do you have skills to offer a school, but they also have programs to offer you. The recruiting process is a mutual exchange between a player and an esports program.
Below are tips for getting recruited by an esports coach at the college level:
Be professional in your correspondence. It’s one of the easiest ways to stand out from the crowd. While it’s great to have parents involved in the process, students should be the ones to write and be active in their own correspondence with a coach.
If the program has a recruiting survey, make sure to do it. This might be linked on their social media, website, or Discord server. Coaches and directors actively track and find recruits through these questionnaires.
Visit the college you’re interested in if it’s reasonable to do so. This can give you a lot of information on the university you are considering, as well as get a head start on acclimating to campus. Get a feel for what campus might be like. Every campus has a different atmosphere. Understanding what you want out of a campus is important. Also, being able to view the school’s esports facility can give you a better picture of what your life as a student-athlete or staff member might be like at that institution.
Research the esports programs you are most interested in joining. Most colleges esports programs will have a dedicated esports website, with information about recruiting, staff, and possible club activities.
Most colleges will want you to participate in a practice or scrim if they are interested in you as a player. Be on time and cordial with your potential teammates. This isn’t just an assessment of you as a player, but is also an opportunity for YOU to consider your teammates, team dynamics, and their practice processes.
Many larger institutions have tuition discounts for schools in neighboring states. This information is usually available on their institution’s tuition and fees information site and may require an application. If you are going out of state for college, take advantage of every avenue you can for tuition reductions.
If you make it to a tryouts process, don’t feel pressured to play or communicate in ways you’re not comfortable with. Coaches are looking at many criteria but also want to see what your natural strengths and weaknesses are.
Check your Discord and email! Most coaches and directors use Discord primarily for correspondence with recruits. Be sure not to miss important updates and respond in a timely manner. You have deadlines to meet for acceptance and registration as a prospective student, and a coach can personally assist you with deadlines for the esports program regarding scholarship (if available) and scheduling tryouts/visits.
Parents, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Coaches understand you may be concerned about school/life balance, time management, and your prospective student’s schedule. Coaches also understand that gaming might not be in your realm of expertise. Coaches are more than happy to answer any questions you might have about competitive esports from supportive parents.
Travis Yang is the Director of Esports at Wichita State University. He was named the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) 2021 Valorant Coach of the Year and 2020 CS:GO Coach of the Year. He also serves on the board of directors for NACE.