The 3 Magic Numbers to Get You Recruited to Row in College

Jul 29, 2017 12:25:35 PM / by Coach Wettach

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The Three Magic Numbers to Get You Recruited to Row in College


Coaches across the country get the two age old questions from their rowers, “How do I get recruited to row in college,” and, “Which matters more, my erg score or my academics?” You may have asked your coach the same thing. You may have wondered this at some point recently. The Kent School Rowing Camp coaches decided to take on this question by introducing the “three magic numbers to get you recruited to row in college”


As KSBC Head Coach Eric Houston says, “there are three scores you need GPA score, SAT/ACT score, and Erg score.” He goes on to explain, “two need to be very high, and the third needs to be very low.” We’ll leave it up to you to decide which is the one that needs to be low.



The perfect college rowing recruit would have a 4.0 unweighted GPA, a 1600 SAT, and a 6:00 erg, with multiple domestic and international medals. I highly doubt that there is even a single student out there who has racked up such a rowing resume. So, what does that mean for you (or your son)? It means that you need to assess where your strengths and weakness are:


Are you a strong student with all A’s? Does your SAT score align with your performance in school? Maybe you are not a great test taker. Maybe you hit a new PR on the erg this winter and are proud of how you stack up against the competition. But, maybe you aren’t as strong on the erg but can move a boat well from stroke seat.


There are a few profiles of students that college rowing coaches are looking for when building a recruiting class, and figuring out where you may fit for any given program is essential for how you approach each coach. As a recruit, you are essentially selling yourself and your skill set to a college program in hopes they’ll buy. So, in order to be a desirable candidate for a coach, you will have to fill a need for them. The two main profiles we’ve identified can be referred to here as the Top Dog Athlete and the Top Notch Student:


Top Dog Athlete: If you have identified your strengths as being in the athletic realm, namely a fast erg time and good racing results, you will be looking at a certain set of schools and will position yourself differently than someone who doesn’t have those attributes. You should lead with these achievements to demonstrate the prospect of making an immediate impact on the college program’s boat speed. If this is going to be your “in” for colleges, you also will need to continue to enhance this side of your skill set. Hitting a 6:20 in junior high school may be a good enough score to get noticed by college coaches, but it sure won’t make the kind of impact you’ll be promoting yourself to make unless you continue to PR through senior year.


Top Notch Student: If instead of the erg, you have a stronger competitive advantage on the classroom side of things, you will definitely want to highlight these achievements with coaches. While college coaches are always looking for stronger and stronger athletes to make their boats go fast, they are also looking for top notch students to help them in that effort. As explained in our College Rowing Recruiting Guide, college coaches also have a mandate to maintain a certain Academic Index average for their teams. If their Top Dog Athletes aren’t scoring too high on the SAT, coaches will need an experienced rower with high GPA/SAT scores to balance out the AI score of their other recruits. This is where you can have an “in” if you are more studious and have not developed as much in the physical areas yet.


When it come to the balance between these three scores, GPA, SAT/ACT, and Erg, we like to say that two need to be in range and the third can’t be far off. In that way, if you have a great erg, but poor grades and SAT scores, you are going to have a tough time getting recruited. This is why your academics are so important! Most of the top end rowing programs are part of top tier colleges and universities with very rigorous academic programs and admissions standards. When looking to pursue rowing at the collegiate level, academics are oftentimes the first scores coaches ask for. Many coaches will explain that it is not worth entering a recruiting conversation until they know whether or not a prospective applicant is within range of admission to the school on academic merit. If you are making first contact with coaches, be prepared to share you Unofficial Transcript as well as Standardized Test Score Reports so that a coach may assess your fit for their school, or even submit your materials to their admissions liaison for a “pre read”.


In our over simplified example of the Top Dog Athlete, this profile only has one of the three magic numbers. In the other profile of the Top Notch Student, this recruit only has two of the three. So, while it is important to lead with you stronger attributes, it is essential to improve your areas of weakness as well. The best college rowing recruits rank highly on all three of the magic numbers, but nobody is perfect. So, lead with your strengths to get the attention of coaches and pay special attention to developing those other scores to make yourself the most desirable candidate possible.  



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Topics: Recruiting

Coach Wettach

Written by Coach Wettach

KSBC B2 Coach 2013-2017 4-time NEIRA B2 Gold Princeton '13

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