SPUSA 20 years

It’s Rowing Regatta Season & Recruiting Season

Pictured: Clancy, Study and Play USA Student-athlete at Yale

February and March in Australia is rowing ‘regatta season’ for high school athletes. It marks the culmination of months of early pre-dawn morning sessions on the water, training camps and painstaking erg sessions. 

It’s also the time of year that US college rowing coaches take their annual recruitment drive down under each year. These coach visits are unique to rowing and represent a phenomenal opportunity for high school rowers! Each year we host some of the very best US college rowing coaches in our offices before they head out as spectators to high school regattas, seeking our best rowers across the country. 

Why is this so? 

Simply, at high school level, Australian rowers are some of the best, if not the best in the world. Conversely, in the US, rowing is not high on the high school agenda for young athletes. When coaches map out their recruiting budget on their office whiteboards, you can bet that for many, a down under recruiting drive is factored into their annual recruiting budget.

However, we often observe that Australian student -athletes are not as prepared for these possible coach interactions as they need to be. Taking this enormous opportunity to travel to the other side of the world for a four – year sporting and educational experience is a big deal. You only get one shot at it, and sadly for many, they don’t know what they don’t know until it’s too late. 

But don’t worry; Study & Play USA guide dozens of rowers and their families each year and below, our team of experts share some key considerations to help prepare you ahead of regatta season.


A Letter of Interest is NOT an Offer 

Some Australian rowers may receive a letter from a US rowing coach expressing interest. Whilst this is an exciting development for many rowers, it does not mean that an offer will be put forward and it does not mean that the student-athlete will be eligible to attend that particular University in the US. If you receive a letter, please contact us and we can help you with your next move. 


Follow the Recruiting Rules

As part of our guidance to many rowing families across Australia, there are things one should say and shouldn’t say, sign and not sign when being approached online or in person by US college coaches. There is an art to being recruited without breaking rules and avoiding misguided decisions. There are important rules around age and year level that if broken can lead to eligibility issues. To be safe, talk to us and we can guide you.


The Costs of College

As per point #1, it can be very exciting to receive some interest from a US rowing coach. However, it is critical to understand the nuances of how scholarships work. Ivy League programs are fantastic institutions, but scholarships work vastly differently to many other Universities. The University system is also vastly different to ours here in Australia. Knowing the differences can save a lot of time and ultimately save your family a lot of money.


The Importance of Academics & Admissions

In Australia, our experience of scholarships for athletes is that in most schools, scholarships for talented athletes relates almost solely on athletic prowess. For US rowing college scholarships, whilst it’s important to meet the criteria required to attract interest, ultimately a rower’s academic results and character are of utmost importance.

The admissions process for entrance into the US university system is complex and varied.

Again, whilst a rower may meet the rowing criteria for recruitment, it’s only after a thorough review of a student’s overall high school (note, not just Year 12 results) academic results will a student -athlete know if he or she is accepted. Too frequently we see students turn down other colleges in pursuit of one, only to find out that they have not been accepted down the track, often leaving them with no alternative options.


Be Open to All Interest

Getting recruited can be like buying a first house. Often we are attracted to the first coach we speak to, or the first house we see. Sometimes this can prove to be the best option. However, our suggestion would be to find out if there is other interested college coaches first. Not all coaches make it down to Australia, so a really good scholarship offer and the overall ‘right fit’ might be waiting in the USA. The most successful candidates seek expert advice to cast the recruiting net wider to find where these right fit colleges may be.

Study & Play have proudly facilitated millions of dollars of scholarship opportunity for Australian rowers into colleges like Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Cal Berkeley, University of Miami and many more.

If you or your school or club would like to host us on campus, on site or via webinar to provide some free guidance for our rowers, please contact us here

Written by Chris Bates

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An Aussie's Transformative
US College Journey

By Study & Play Director, Chris Bates