June 25, 2013

Summertime!

Summer on a college campus, particularly in college athletics, is perhaps one of the most misunderstood times of year. I am frequently asked “What do you do during the Summer?”  While it is true that Summertime means the end of 60 hour weeks and long weekends, there is still plenty of work to be done in the Summer.

The majority of the student athletes depart; there are no practices, no games. But, there is plenty of activity. Every week, youth camps from nearly every sport bring dozens and sometimes hundreds of young people to our campus. Over the course of the Summer, we will have close to 500 sport campers on campus, which creates a flurry of activity. It’s impossible to measure or understate the value in having hundreds of kids and their families on your campus. Many of our current students attended sports camps as a kid. Their first experiences on your campus, the opportunity to see the campus and meet coaches has a tremendous impact on them in later year.

While coaches and staff are not working 60-plus hours per week, and not practicing, the Summer is incredibly valuable. First and foremost, after 10 months of long weeks and virtually no weekends off, it’s a time to re-charge the batteries and re-energize yourself. The somewhat slower pace allows coaches to spend a tremendous amount of quality time with their kids and families – to go on vacations, long weekends, or a day hiking or biking on one of the local trails.

A college campus is a great place for young children. During the Summer, many of our staff will bring their kids to work – which creates some very special times for parents and children, as well as contributing to a fun and relaxed work environment.

The Summer is not all fun and games. Coaches and staff will spend a lot of time planning for the upcoming year. Competition schedules are finalized.  Budgets have to be developed. Travel plans, including bus transportation and hotels, have to be made. There is preparation for the upcoming season – practice schedules and plans – that are developed during the Summer.

Summer is a time to reflect on the previous season for coaches, or for the AD  - the previous seasons of all teams. It’s a chance to analyze what went well….and what didn’t go so well. What can we do differently next year? New offensive or defensive schemes? A different way to utilize our personnel?  Different recruiting strategies?

Most importantly, there is recruiting! Recruiting has no off-season.  Coaches are constantly recruiting – not just for the upcoming year – but every coach always has their eyes and ears on prospective student athletes for the future. The Summer includes countless tournaments, showcases, team camps, etc. where prospective student-athletes are present. Nearly every weekend presents an opportunity to hit the recruiting trails for a coach.

Summer is an incredibly valuable time in a college athletic department. It’s a little slower pace – a chance to reflect – a chance to prepare for the upcoming season – continue recruiting – and yes, a chance to relax and spend some great time with the family. Planning and preparation during the Summer is critical to success the following year, and the slower pace and opportunity for relaxation? Well – that keeps you sane!