Platform guides students and parents through recruitment process
Think back to some of your favorite high school memories: Friday night lights, meeting up with your friends to watch the volleyball game, packing the gym and hoping you would beat your crosstown rival in basketball — all of these have the potential to make up what many still refer to as their “glory days.” For the high school athletes actually competing, these “glory days” aren’t just a distant memory, they’re a reality that could bring them one step closer to a college scholarship. However, the percentage of high school athletes moving on to become NCAA athletes is quite small, around 3 – 12 percent, varying by sport. Locker Linked in Toledo is hoping to increase these chances by simplifying the recruitment process and maximizing each athlete’s potential.
“Locker Linked is a web service that assists high school athletes in the recruiting process,” said Steve Piller, partner at Locker Linked. “We give them the ability to market themselves and connect with our database of 58,000 coaches through a service that is affordable to every high school student-athlete. There are a lot of services out there that charge thousands of dollars, and we want to provide that support without socioeconomic factors coming into play.”
On the surface, college recruiting seems straightforward — that is, if you’re thinking about the process 20 years ago, where you’d market yourself by sending a tape and a letter to a college coach. These days, it’s a bit more complicated, and athletes and their families who aren’t acquainted with the process can easily miss out.
“There are 8 million high school athletes across the U.S. and about 2 million of them are trying to market and promote themselves to play at the next level,” said John Hoover, founder of Locker Linked. “A very small percentage know how to market and brand themselves to college coaches. Most students may think, ‘my club coach or my high school coach is going to help me promote myself,’ and that’s just not the case, most coaches don’t have time. Also, the NCAA just changed their rules for some sports, so colleges can’t talk to athletes until September of their junior year. If you’re not on their radar early in the process, you’re really coming pretty late to the game.”
With the Locker Linked platform, students and parents have access to an online profile, which acts as their own personal website that they can update real-time to reflect different academic, athletic, and community achievements. The platform also hosts different marketing resources, including a college database, recruitment deadlines and even communication etiquette guides.
“What makes our product unique is the control we give students and parents,” said Piller. “On a lot of recruiting platforms, it’s like the Wizard of Oz — all the coach information is held behind the screen so that the students aren’t in control of selecting the schools. This means that sometimes a potential Division I or Division II player is settling for schools they would never normally settle for academically or athletically.”
By leveling the playing field and providing a transparent recruiting platform, Locker Linked is hoping to alleviate the stress and time associated with the entire process. And their vision hasn’t stopped there. With the support and mentorship of LaunchPad Incubator, a partner of Ohio Third Frontier based out of the University of Toledo, Locker Linked has been able to create space for college athletic recruitment information nights as well as envision a future college-facing side of the platform.
With Locker Linked’s long-term vision in mind, the importance of a hometown foundation also resonates within the startup and is fueling its progress.
“Ohio is home. When we found a capable IT development group right here in our backyard in Toledo, we knew we we’re going to be able to help kids at all socioeconomic levels get on the radar of college coaches,” said Hoover. “The quality of athletes coming out of Ohio is well-known in the college recruiting circuits, and now we get to be part of that.”