5 Steps to Continuing Relationships with Student-Athletes After Graduation
During the recruiting process, many coaches sell prospective student-athletes on how they strive to have lifelong relationships with their former players. But how many actually practice what they preach?
For most young people, the years spent on a college campus are among the most formative and memorable times of their lives. Student-athletes spend years interacting daily with their college coaches, but upon graduation, this can come to an abrupt stop.Here at Stevenson University, in Owings Mills, Maryland, we take pride in continuing our relationships with our student-athletes after they have walked across the stage and earned their diplomas. We try our best to remain active and involved in their lives after their playing days are over.
Here are five steps that will help you to cultivate relationships with your program’s alumni.
- Keep Them Involved
Despite the fact that their college careers are over, many former players still seek a connection with their university and basketball program. Let your alumni know that they are still valued, and keep them active within your program. Most programs hold alumni games or other similar events, which can be a great thing and are important to have, but we seek to involve our alumni even more. We frequently invite our alumni to attend practice and speak to our team. Many will also attend games throughout the season, and we will bring them into the locker room post-game to interact with our guys. It can be great for your current student-athletes to hear from someone who has gone through the same things as them, and it can be just as valuable for that alumni to keep their sense of connection.
- Keep Them Informed
You will have some alumni who follow your team extremely closely, but others who will be on the other end of the spectrum. Let your alumni know the latest news and activity within your program. We have a newsletter that we send out just about every other month to provide information to allow them to remain connected with us. The newsletter also has a section in which we highlight alumni, so it also gives them a chance to see what their other fellow alumni are up to. In addition, we will remain connected via text, Facetime, and phone calls to inform them about team success and accomplishments both on and off the court. Our mission is to maintain their pride and connection to the program once their four years are over.
- Connect Them with Current Players
I already discussed how we have our alumni come back and speak to the team, but finding other intentional ways to connect our current student-athletes to our alumni provides great value for both parties. In our program, as our current student-athletes become upperclassmen and are working their way towards entering the working world, we try to connect them with alumni who have similar interests and/or career goals. Of course, this can potentially lead to a great mentorship, but it can also lead to a greater connection to the program for the alumni. It’s one thing to see a name in the box score, but another to have meaningful, intentional interactions with that person. We believe that providing a mentorship opportunity such as this will maintain a strong connection for all parties involved.
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- Share Their Stories
We always make it a point to share the stories of our alumni with our current student-athletes. It can be great to give examples of how those who came before them left their mark. We will share stories ranging from overcoming adversity to something as simple as how someone excelled at running a particular play. We even name particular plays, drills, and stretches after alumni who have left their mark on our program. The best part of this is when your student-athletes are able to put a face to a name. If that alumni who you spoke about comes back and meets your team, it can lead to some really cool moments. It is a great way to make alumni feel valued.
- Show Your Support
This will sound cliche, but be there for them. Continue to show your support even after the ball stops bouncing for them. Check-in with your former players from time to time. Ask about their lives, jobs, and families. Share stories about their time in the program with each other. Let them know that they can still talk to you about anything. All of these are important to foster and strengthen the genuine relationships that you built during their playing days. If you are truly interested in lifelong relationships with them then communicate with them, even if it isn’t on a super regular basis. It is important to remember that you are still their coach after their playing days are over!