Ask The Experts
Countdown: Coaches on Finding a Good Fit
by James Hill, 3 April 2017
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Recruiting is the lifeblood of any college program, and coaches are always looking for student-athletes who will contribute to the team and the program's culture. Coaches are not only looking for the most talented players - they want to find hard-working, mature kids who will do well in the classroom and will be solid teammates.
Once coaches identify strong candidates, they have to execute on the recruiting process - communicating to the student-athletes why they should come to their schools.
We put the following question to a panel of experts:
Q) When you know a student-athlete will be a good fit for your program, what techniques do you use to articulate the fit?
Brian Kalbas, head coach, North Carolina Women
We have never had a scholarship player ever transfer from our program. With this being said, once we target a good fit for our program, we make sure she knows exactly what our program is all about.
The practice, conditioning program and all the extra individual workouts are exactly what they will witness as student-athletes here at UNC. We don't change anything just because a recruit is on campus. Our program is all about what you see on a visit. It will be what you will experience as a student-athlete.
Our program has been a developmental program, and recently it is developing players to be professionals. If this is a player's desire, then UNC has all the resources to help her reach her potential.
Kevin Van Haitsma, head coach, Calvin Women
Once we know a student-athlete would be a good fit for Calvin, we try and get them on campus a few different times.
First, the goal is to have them do a "Fridays at Calvin" visit, where they get to experience what the college has to offer. Students will take a tour of the campus, meet with different professors from their projected majors, and attend classes if they wish. During this first visit, I will meet with the players and get to know them and their parents. Most players do this stage during their junior year.
Second, our goal is for the player to come back and do an overnight stay with one of our current players - usually toward the start of their senior year. During this visit, the goal is for the player to get a feel for what it would be like living on campus and being around the team. If possible, we will try and schedule the visit around a match so the player can watch us in action. I like having the player see the team perform and watch the chemistry and dynamics of the team. I will try to meet with the player again in a one-on-one situation - where the previous visit was probably with their parents. I will be pretty honest with players on where I would see them in our line-up and what their role could be with the team. I want to make sure it's a great fit for both the player and the team.
Finally, we try and keep the players involved with the team throughout their college decision process. I will invite the players to different matches throughout the year, or another athletic event Calvin is putting on. We had some players go to the Calvin-Hope men's basketball game, known as "The Rivalry." It was in the top-10 on ESPN's best college rivalries rankings back a few years ago - the only NCAA Division III rivalry that made the list. We also had some players attend our women's volleyball matches in the fall, a team that ended up winning the national championship this year. A few years back we hosted the band "Fun" on campus for a concert and had some players attend that as well. This final stage is about keeping the student-athletes engaged with the current players - and making them comfortable on Calvin's campus.
Once we know a student-athlete is a good fit, our goal is to get her on campus, help her get to know the team, give her a clear vision of what her role could be, and then keep her connected on campus.