First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
Lisa Strasman: Thankfully, my family is healthy and safe during these precarious times. Our NCSA team is also doing well, which I am very grateful for. Working from home is certainly an adjustment, but we have adapted well.
Tell us about you, your career, how you Joined NCSA
Lisa Strasman: I grew up playing competitive ice hockey, and after a stressful recruiting process, I was fortunate to earn the opportunity to play college hockey at Yale University. My college experience was incredible, and after playing overseas for a season post-graduation, I came back to Chicago and began a career in technology sales.
In 2004, I came across NCSA, which at the time was a small start-up with a big vision of changing the college recruiting process. I joined in an entry-level role, and it has been a fun ride ever since.
How does NCSA Innovate?
Lisa Strasman: Our NCSA team is constantly innovating to improve the college recruiting process for student-athletes and coaches. We were the first company to bring online recruiting profiles and videos to college coaches and the first to provide coaches with a robust database that enabled them to recruit prospects from across the country (and the world!) without leaving their desks.
We created a special matching system that allows kids to see which college programs they best match with and have released numerous other tools and offerings to help student-athletes and coaches manage the complex recruiting process.
Our team talks to student-athletes and coaches regularly to learn what pain points they experience, and then we work to bring them solutions.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business, and how are you coping?
Lisa Strasman: The coronavirus pandemic has greatly affected college recruiting. College coaches have been in a “dead period” for the last five months, restricting all face-to-face contact with recruits. This has led coaches to rely more heavily on digital recruiting, and we have seen a surge of activity on our platform as a result.
The NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility to athletes who missed most of their season. This dynamic means fewer roster spots for incoming freshmen, which creates more competition for scholarships and roster spots. There is also a lot of stress for high school student-athletes and their families to navigate this new landscape, which is changing daily. At NCSA, we are working hard to help families make sense of the new recruiting environment and find the best possible college fit despite all the challenges 2020 has thrown our way.
I feel for all the student-athletes and college coaches who have been negatively affected by the pandemic and remain optimistic that everyone will be stronger because of this experience.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
Lisa Strasman: I have had to make numerous difficult choices throughout my life and my career. My own college decision was a tough choice. I had limited information and help and had to figure out which school was the place where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life.
In the end, I went with my gut and chose Yale, which is where I felt the most at home on my visit. I always tell high school student-athletes that they should do their best to get a feel for the entire college environment. Ensure they believe they are at a place where they would be happy and successful, even if they got injured and could not play their sport. Where you go to school is not a 4-year decision, rather it’s a 40+ year decision that will impact the rest of your life.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you Project yourself and NCSA in the Future?
Lisa Strasman: I rely on exercise as an important stress reliever. I always feel better and more at ease if I start my day with physical activity. This usually means setting my alarm early to get my workout before the rest of my family wakes up.
NCSA’s future is very bright. We have a phenomenal team serving an important mission, with a lot of bright opportunities ahead.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Lisa Strasman: There are several small niche companies that help student-athletes with recruiting, but our biggest competition is a lack of awareness that NCSA is a platform that can help make the recruiting process easier. Many families try to go about recruiting themselves, and while sometimes they find success, they often spend more time and money in the process or do not achieve maximum results. Where you go to college is such an important decision that I like to see families remove as much room for error as possible.
Your Final Thoughts
Lisa Strasman: Although the recruiting landscape has changed due to COVID-19, recruiting is still happening. The most important things student-athletes can do are to create or update their online profile and share it with coaches along with a personal note, maintain relationships with coaches, keep their grades up, be proactive, and maintain a positive attitude. This time in their lives may be challenging, but I’m confident the struggle makes the prize at the end that much sweeter.
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