April 27, 2020
When a student/athlete is interested in playing a sport at a particular college, and the coach is also interested in the student, this will usually give the student a big boost … or “hook," as it's often called … in the admission process.
If the coach is NOT interested, then obviously the student will lose the athletic hook which could diminish admission chances, but it doesn't mean that the student isn't likely to be admitted. Granted, at the most selective small colleges, the admission folks are keen to accept applicants who can do “double duty." In other words, they favor candidates who are not only strong in the classroom but who can also contribute to the athletic program. The student body simply isn't big enough to accommodate all the interested non-athletes as well as enough athletes to staff every team. So at this short and hyper-competitive roster of institutions, lack of interest from a coach isn't an automatic deal-breaker but it is certainly more detrimental than it is at most other colleges.
More typically, if a student/athlete likes a college but realizes that making the college team probably isn't in the cards, the student may still be a front-runner candidate if grades and test scores are up to snuff. But, in such cases, “The Dean" recommends that the student use the “Additional Information" section of an application or write a separate letter to say something like this:
Although my résumé, recommendations (and reputation) scream, “Soccer!" there's a lot more to me than sports. I don't think I'll make the soccer team at [College's Name] but I still love this school and will eagerly enroll, even if the coach isn't interested in me. Beyond the soccer field, I especially value [provide several pluses of this college]. I know I will be happy playing intramural soccer and I also hope to discover other activities that excite me that I haven't previously had time to pursue because of all of the many hours I've devoted to soccer.
When the student takes the time to emphasize that the sport is secondary and that a commitment to the college is strong despite the lack of an athletic opportunity, admission officials won't have to quibble over whether a student will walk away once a coach says, “No thanks."