On "The Recruiting Closet Podcast," we hear from elite college athletes, owners and directors of some of the largest youth Lacrosse, Volleyball, Soccer, Field Hockey, and Baseball clubs in North America. We interview college coaches at NAIA and NCAA colleges at the Division 1 (DI), Division 2 (DII), and Division 3 (DIII) collegiate levels to find out what they're looking for when they recruit student-athletes.
Our guests know what's important in the complicated world of college athletic recruiting. The show features thought-provoking discussions with the experts who are passionate about youth sports. Want to know how NCAA rules effect your ability to get recruited? This is the show for you. Want advice from leaders at the biggest, highest profile clubs about how to help your high school student-athletes secure rosters positions, even college scholarships and financial aid, to play at the next level? Listen up.
*The Recruiting Closet Podcast is hosted by SportsRecruits. SportsRecruits is a technology company that creates sport-specific networks to provide youth sports clubs, high school players and their families access to every college coach in the country. Club organizations use our platform to empower their players in the college recruiting process and oversee their efforts and communication with complete transparency. Connections made on the platform have resulted in commitments to the best academic and athletic institutions across the country. SportsRecruits is headquartered in New York City. For more information, visit sportsrecruits.com.
The Power of Simplicity, Gamification, and Empowerment in Recruiting
Today we're talking to André Lennox, recruiting coordinator at Los Angeles Volleyball Academy (@lavacademy), or LAVA for short. Recruiting is a complex topic, and I know a lot of listeners are extremely motivated, extremely serious people - if you're a club staffer, you want to make sure your club is setting your players up for success, if you're a parent, you want to know what works, if you're an athlete, you want to DO what works.
I've known André for about a year, and I've wanted to get him on this podcast for a while now, because more than anyone I've talked to, he's a guy who has figured out the recruiting process. He's cracked it.
In this episode, we talk about how LAVA uses gamification to get players to take ownership over their own recruiting processes, we talk about the small things clubs can be doing to help their athletes get to the next level, how LAVA believes in empowering their players to succeed by giving them the tools to control their own destinies. We talk about why video is transforming the recruiting landscape, making it possible for players on the west coast to get recruited and play for colleges all the way on the other side of the country. And let me tell you, none of this is conjecture, it's all been tested and refined at LAVA and it's backed by real world success.
Recruiting Advice from a DI Coach
Today we have Jordan Nies (@jordannies), veteran college coach who has dealt with the collegiate recruiting process from the other side of the table - the side with the college coaches doing the recruiting.
When you look across the Internet, you'll find helpful recruiting advice. However, most information is from the perspective of the recruit. Whether the advice is from a high school coach, club sports coach or club recruiting coordinator, or even a former collegiate athlete, you rarely hear from the college coach who actually does the recruiting. You rarely hear from people like Jordan Nies.
Because of NCAA rules, college coaches have to be really careful of talking to the wrong people and being accused of giving advice to companies that can be classified as "recruiting services," or in the business of acting as agents for high school players to get them into college. Because SportsRecruits is not a recruiting service - we're a SOFTWARE company - we can talk to college coaches about the recruiting process. And good thing we can!
Jordan has a perspective on the collegiate recruiting process you're not going to find anywhere else. He's been a standout athlete in high school, he got recruited to play sports at Bucknell, he was a Men's and Women's coach at Lycoming College. From there he went back to the High School level to coach some of the most gifted and talented young athletes at Culver Military Academy. He then became an assistant coach at the elite Division I College of Holy Cross. He's recruited the most sought-after young athletes in the country. He's coached All-Americans and Olympians. He knows what the families of high school athletes don't know but should, and he shares it with you on this episode.
The idea for this episode came from a blog post that he wrote for the SportsRecruits blogs, Summer Events Advice from a DI Coach, and after we saw the tremendous amount of interest that people all over the country have for his perspective, we decided to follow up and go really deep into the topics that matter to high school athletes trying to get to the next level and the club staffers tasked with helping them do it.
The Three Pillars of Athletic Recruiting
Today we have Matt Wheeler (@mattwheeler), Co-Founder of the tech startup SportsRecruits, the tech startup behind the recruiting management software platform by the same name. This episode is all about breaking down the recruiting process. Here’s why this episode is so valuable: while Matt has close to 15 years of experience with recruiting, this talk isn’t just about drawing from his experience. Rather, he combines the intuition he’s gained from all that experience with real, hard, empirical data to tell you what you need to know, and he cuts out all the other BS and misinformation you’ll find elsewhere.
He talks about the statistical realities of playing in college at the all levels, how many schools high school athletes should target to give themselves the best shot at overcoming the pretty steep odds; he breaks the recruiting process into three pillars: research, proactive outreach, and exposure. Most importantly, he gives you the blueprint to getting recruited. It requires a lot of effort, but it’s he maps it out for you in a way you’re not going to find elsewhere. Of course, the devil is in the details, so rather than me taking more time with this summary, here’s Matt Wheeler.
How To Conquer The World
On May 28, 2016, the United Women's Lacrosse League (the "UWLX") will kick off its inaugural season in Bethlehem, PA. Michele "DJ" DeJulius is the first Commissioner for the professional women's lacrosse league that she thinks is poised for greatness.
That Michele is at the forefront of such a significant turning point in lacrosse is a surprise to no one who follows the sport. She's a titan in the world of women's lacrosse. The 4 time collegiate All-American who first picked up a lacrosse stick as a freshman in high school and qualified for the U.S. National Team just four years later has too many awards to mention in an episode summary while still qualifying as a "summary."
She's risen to the top of the U.S. Lacrosse world as a player and as a coach. She captained the 2009 U.S. Women's World Cup team that won it all in the 2009 FIL World Cup in Prague.
In 1999, she joined the Baltimore City Police Department and quickly rose through the ranks as a member of the SWAT Team and later as a Detective in the Executive Protection Unit. During her five-year career in law enforcement, she earned a Meritorious Conduct Award and the Police Commissioner's Award of Excellence.
Despite the demands of her law enforcement career, she still found time to found the Ultimate Goal Lacrosse Club in January 2001. The club quickly grew in size and reputation, and today the club has over 500 members every year.
How great coaches adapt their coaching methods for different players, age groups, learning styles [5:45] On coaching the U.S. National Team [7:47] On the importance of role models for young women. [12:30] How it felt to become teammates with her heroes. [14:21] How she finds the time to coach 20-30 kids every week as President of her club [21:28] What separates Ultimate Goal Lacrosse Club from other clubs (and why she's thankful for all the other clubs out there) [25:50] What the UWLX means for women of all ages; why the league is so important. [36:05] Michele predicts which UWLX team is going to win it all this year. [37:47]
Select Quotes "I always feel like I'm a good listener, and I want to make sure I'm doing what is asked of me. But I also want to make sure I'm going above and beyond." "If kids are always asking questions or they're not doing what you've asked them, then you haven't taught it. [...] Every kid learns differently." "For me, being a 'master' is just from experience and putting the time in." "You have to be able to instill confidence in a kid and make them feel like they're amazing and that they can do it. I enjoy that part (of coaching)." "In my 20-some years in this sport, some of the people that I looked up to the most were the US players. I would go to those US clinics, and I remember specifically in high school having them come and just being in awe. That influenced me immediately, where I was like, 'I wanna be like them one day.'" "I like to be responsive. So, if someone emails me, I would never let it go for longer than 24 hours, and if it's going to, I'll email them because I want them to know it's important to me." "We are very on top of communicating with the college coaches on our kids' behalf. A lot of times, that might not be something that a parent or kid could see unless I told them. But we've started using LacrosseRecruits, which has been really good. I've been able to manage a lot of our kids easier, they've been able to communicate with the coaches, and I've been able to see what they've been doing and making sure that I can keep them accountable."
Selected Links UnitedWLax.com Follow the UWLX on Twitter @UnitedWLax Ultimate Goal Lacrosse Club
Coach Your Best Players
Today we're talking to Jared Spires, the Chief Operating Officer for the soccer club Real Colorado.
And wow, what a guest he is. Let me just read a snippet of his resume to give you an idea. Jared began coaching at the age of 19 and became the Director of the Competitive Program for then Douglas County Blast, later renamed Real Colorado. He holds a USSF A license, the highest achievement in the US in coaching criteria, which he earned at the age of 26. He spent some time at Vanderbilt University as the women's assistant soccer coach, and here's something youth soccer fans everywhere can get excited about. You've probably heard of a young phenom by the name of Mallory Pugh, the 2015 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year, who this January became the youngest female player to be selected and play for the U.S. national team during an Olympic qualifying tournament. Jared coached her at Real Colorado when she was a U-11 and U-12 and has been front and center watching her develop into the player she is today. Currently, Jared is the Chief Operating Officer at Real Colorado, where his duties are accountability for managing the operating budget, implementing policy, and operationally leading Real Colorado in the direction determined by himself, the Executive Director of Coaching/President, and the Board of Directors.
We talk about all of this and more in this 30 minute interview. We talk about what it was like coaching Mallory Pugh, how she compared to other players at her age and how Jared thinks young players can and need to emulate about her development, as well as what players can't or shouldn't emulate. We talk about the recruiting process, what Jared views as the proper role of the club staff in the process. We also get into the thorny issues surrounding the ECNL and the Development Academy, what ECNL clubs like his are doing to prepare for the GDA in the next 6, 12, 18 months, how he thinks the situations is going to play out in that time and into the future. It’s a great conversation, I really hope you enjoy it, so without further ado, here’s my conversation with Jared Spires.
Running A Club The Right Way
On Episode 2
At FLG Lacrosse Club, CEO Mike Winkoff and his son, Program Director Corey Winkoff, have a unique approach toward the youth lacrosse. Their mission is to develop well-rounded "studletes" who excel on the field, in the classroom and in their communities.
In Episode Two, we sit down with Mike and Corey Winkoff from FLG Lacrosse. The Winkoff’s have a ton of experience in the lacrosse space as players, coaches and administrators. In the podcast, they provide poignant commentary on a variety of topics including the early recruiting phenomenon, and provide salient advice for club owners, parents and student-athletes.
On first positive and first negative experience of playing lacrosse as a parent/coach-son combination, and using those experiences to shape current the current mindset [3:40]
On the history of FLG Lacrosse [7:25]
On how they go about helping players in the recruiting process [9:00]
On why they enjoy assisting players in the recruiting process [11:15]
On helping parents who may be feeling the pressure in the recruiting process [13:15]
On the clubs values, goals and philosophy [24:15]
On early recruiting [26:15]
On establishing relationships between the club and college coaches [36:10]
On advice to club staffers and parents in dealing with the recruiting process [40:30]
Selected Quotes from Mike Winkoff
“I wasn’t happy with the landscape. So we started a team. We had one team, and raised the money from donors. Nobody paid for anything – hotels, tournament fees, etc. The following year (2006-7), we had three teams – two boys teams and one girls team – and raised $225,000. Of course in 2008, the world changed and we had to move to the pay for play model. But that is where we started.”
“The recruiting process for me and the directors is probably our favorite part of the job, because you are helping somebody make the biggest decision in lives to that point that is going to form the rest of their life. It’s a great experience.”
“The bottom line is you have to be real with the family. Every student-athlete is so different. If you have anxiety because somebody else does something – that is a bit short-sighted. You can’t get caught up in the stuff that’s not important. What’s important is the happiness of the child. At the end of the day, it’s about where and when is the right fit.”
“The pressure put on these kids, being recruited so young, is unfortunate. If it was up to myself and Corey, they would only recruit rising seniors. But we can’t change that landscape. So what we have to do is tell parents and help them realize. We once had a player get 11 DI offers his rising senior year. So there is always opportunity. At the end of the day, the kid who commits later is in a better spot. They are finding the right fit. An eighth or ninth grader cannot find the right fit. They are just trying to figure out high school.” “We know the process is flawed. These kids aren’t ready to make the decision of where to go to college. It’s all about guidance, and sometimes, the parents need it more than the kids.”
"LacrosseRecruits is our organizational tool for recruiting, and it's been a godsend. It helps our kids organize themselves; it helps us organize each recruit – following their activity and seeing what they are doing. We need that tool for a small program like ours – I can only imagine how bigger organizations do not have something like that.”
“If you come to our program, everybody plays equally. We are not looking to win the fourth grade national championship. It’s not something that means anything to us. We want to develop the players and get them better. Our goals are different than other people’s goals.”
“The biggest problem that I see is they are not spending the time to evaluate the fit. They are rushing through the process instead
Clubs and parents, best podcast ever.
If you run a youth sports club, or if you're a recruitable high school athlete, I've never heard anything as valuable as this. Can't wait for the new episodes!
Amazing Recruiting Insight
The Recruiting Closet shares great insight into the world of recruiting from various Club Directors and Coaches. I would recommend this to all those working and volunteering in the youth sports world.
Simplifying the process on the club end
I was really excited to listen to this podcast. I help out with college recruiting for a local club in DC. The recruiting process is important to our club families, but we struggle to find time to actually sit down with each player multiple times throughout the year to take a pulse on what they are doing.
Patty made some great points in how we can provide our club with a tool that can allow our families and club staff to be proactive. I love that we can manage each player’s process with a few clicks of a mouse. It doesn’t take a lot of time to make the impact we are going for!!!