The Recruiting Trail: Prep Work!
July is truly a month of madness for college coaches. Days are consumed by traveling or sitting in gyms from morning ‘til night because recruiting the best players in the country is vital if you want your program to get to the top. Virginia Tech’s Director of Player Personnel, Samantha Mitchell, may not be the one who recruits will see taking notes on the sidelines, but she sure does make the magic happen. Mitchell’s prep-work for July begins as early as March. From making massive spreadsheets to securing hotel reservations, Mitchell’s to-do list is quite extensive. “I try to do as much as I can for our coaches so that they can stay focused on recruiting when they are on the road and they don’t have to worry about their travel plans.” Mitchell’s dedication to planning ahead ensures the coaches that July recruiting will be smooth sailing.
At Florida State, the staff is fortunate to have Ali Hoesly, Director of Recruiting Operations. She helps organize and plan the coaches travels for the July evaluation period, which provides them with optimal time out on the road to evaluate and watch recruits. For teams that do not have a Director of Recruiting position, the duties usually fall to the Director of Operations or young assistant coach. “July is by far my busiest month of the year,” says Ali, “I am responsible for all travel, operations, and changes made for our coaches as they hit the recruiting trails.”
What is the greatest skill necessary for her to be successful, and contribute to the functionality of the staff? A can-do and “figure it out” attitude at every moment. Young staff members are usually “thrown into the fire” (Ali drove 18 hours from New Jersey and headed straight into the office from the road to get to work) and need to learn as they perform and get the job done. As Ali states, “An unwritten rule of the job is to be ready for anything. You better be prepared to work. Early mornings. Late nights. DOBO’s [and similar positions] are always ready. We have to expect the unexpected and make sure our coaches time on the road in July is efficient.”
GridBusters and FastRecruit
Most veteran coaches are aware of these programs to help save immense time for coaches heading out on the road. GridBusters combines the individual schedules of teams to help you see a compiled look of all the teams playing at what times at a particular tournament. Anyone can order online and purchase schedule grids for coaches to stay on top of seeing as many players as they can.
FastRecruit is a recently added program from Fast Model Sports that helps coaches stay up to date with who recruits are, when they play and detailed information on them such as high school team and family members. It allows coaches to create schedules and get notified on court assignments and game times, particularly helpful for bracket play. Both are great for teams to look into in order to be as efficient as they can!
Quick Hitter Tips for Success:
- Create Packets of Any and All Information Coaches Might Need Including:
- Addresses, Travel Times and Confirmation Numbers, Event Information, Recruits Information and Where the Closest Starbucks is (adjust to fit your coaches tastes!)
- Update Everything in Your Recruiting Software (Jump Forward, Radar, etc.) Well Before July Recruiting Hits
- Players Can Frequently Change AAU Teams so Double Check Who They are Playing for!
- Confirm with Coaches/Players as Much as You Can Where They Will Be and When
- Learn about Top Recruits’ Schedules in Order to Provide Information as Quickly as Possible (Who Plays Today, Who Won Last Night, etc.)
- Organization is Everything. Over Prepare and Anticipate Changes Will Be Needed!
- Every Coach is Different, Learn What Works Best for Them and Accommodate!
- Quickly Learn Which Social Media Accounts or Websites are Reliable for Schedule Changes at Tournaments
- Communication is key:
- Be Familiar with Who the Top Recruits are so You can Find out Which Tournaments They will be Attending. Know Who Your Coaches are Still Recruiting, Who has Committed Elsewhere, and Who Your Program has Stopped Recruiting!
- When the Coaches are on the Road: Keep Your Phone on Loud. Issues with Travel Plans Might Occur, Which Means the Coaches will be Calling you for Help.
- Call Hotels and Rental Services Before the Coaches Get There in Order to Ensure that Everything is Confirmed and Ready
- Come Up with a Few Possible Solutions to Fix any Issues that Arise. It is Never Acceptable to Tell One of the Coaches that You Can’t Help Them, Especially Since you Made the Travel Plans!
- Be Ready for Early Mornings and Late Nights in Order to Prepare for July Recruiting. The More Prepared You Are, the Less Issues that Will Arise.
- Remember that Your Hard Work is Never Unappreciated. The Behind the Scenes Work is Just as Important as the Actual Recruiting!
Sam Mitchell is entering her second year as the Director of Player Personnel at Virginia Tech. She previously served as the Assistant Director of Basketball Operations at James Madison where she assisted the Director of Operations with team travel, film exchange and equipment. She also oversaw members of the practice squad and student managers. Prior to that, Mitchell was an event management intern for Sports Backers and as a group sales associate for the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Mitchell’s love for the administrative side of women’s basketball began when she joined the JMU women’s basketball program as a student manager. A JMU graduate, Mitchell earned her Bachelor of Science in sport and recreation management with a minor in business in 2014. She earned her Masters’ of Education in sport leadership in 2015 from VCU.
Ali Hoesly is currently the Director of Recruiting Operations at Florida State University where she recently helped the Seminoles to an Elite Eight appearance. Prior to her time at FSU she worked under Hall of Fame Coach C. Vivian Stringer as the Head Student Manager for Rutgers Women’s Basketball from 2014-2016. Her experiences in basketball also include serving as an Operations Intern for the Washington Mystics during the 2015 WNBA season.
Guest Writer Sammi Goldsmith is currently a Graduate Assistant on Kenny Brook’s staff at Virginia Tech. Sammi is a recent graduate of Lynchburg College and is an aspiring women’s basketball coach who participated in the WBCA’s 2016 So You Want to Be a Coach program. Stay tuned for more posts from Sammi about the recruiting trail.