Crafting the College: coaches discuss the ins and outs of recruitment at Muhlenberg

Muhlenberg coaches discuss the role they play in recruiting prospective student athletes to commit to being the future of the college.

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During the summer and fall, Muhlenberg’s Head Baseball Coach Tod Gross and the rest of the baseball coaching staff travels throughout the country to scout potential Muhlenberg baseball players at many showcase games and camps.

From June to November we travel mostly in the Mid-Atlantic region, but also to New England, California and Florida. We go to tournaments, academic baseball camps and academic showcases,” says Gross.

Coach Gross is one of many coaches at Muhlenberg, and NCAA Division III athletics for that matter, who puts a large portion of time in their sports respective off season to hit the road and recruit.

“We look for players that will not only help our program continue to improve but to also find players that will be good community members.  It is important that the players buy in to our culture of respect, dedication, accountability and relentlessness” – Alexa Keckler, Head Volleyball Coach

But deciding where to recruit is different for every program, and coaches have to weigh the needs of their program when beginning to search for the next class of student athletes.

We first try and learn more about the player we are recruiting so that when they visit our campus we can tailor the visit to appeal to their interests and desires,” said Alexa Keckler, Muhlenberg’s head volleyball coach. Keckler has made an impact on student athletes from coast to coast across the county. The Mules volleyball squad represents 11 different states on their roster of 14 players.

An important part of the recruiting process is meeting with the prospective student athlete and their parents on campus,” said Megan Eddinger, field hockey head coach. “During this time we discuss our program as well as strengths that the prospective student athlete could contribute to our program.”

However, the process is not yet over after prospective recruits have said their goodbyes for the day they visit.

Once they have visited, we spend a lot of time making sure they know we want them.  This could include emails, letters, calls, texts and marketing materials that highlight our program and institution,” explained Keclker.

At an institution like Muhlenberg, recruiting is not as simple as finding the best high school athletes that would want to come to the school and offering the prospective recruit a roster spot. There are many academic guidelines coaches must follow to keep up with the school’s academic reputation.

“We are looking to recruit a very good student that we feel would be a great fit for Muhlenberg academically,” said Gross. “From a baseball stand-point we are looking to bring in prospective student athletes that fit the way we try and play the game and have the same type goals individually as we have as a program.”

Keckler had similar thoughts on recruiting young adults who contributed to more than just Muhlenberg Athletics.

“We look for players that will not only help our program continue to improve but to also find players that will be good community members.  It is important that the players buy in to our culture of respect, dedication, accountability and relentlessness,” said Keckler.

Muhlenberg’s men’s soccer program, led by Sean Topping, uses the winter break to hatch down recruits for the following fall season.

“We will attend tournaments to continue to watch our prospective student athletes and start making our recruiting list of 2019 prospects,” said Topping. “If needed, we will schedule home visits to go sit with recruits and their families to drive home our commitment and interest in them — whether that is setting up late visits, interviews or overnight visits once the spring semester starts.”

Topping also explained the relationship his program has with admissions.

“We work with admissions to make sure all application information arrives and hopefully getting the majority of our 2018 class to apply Early Decision,” said Topping.

Athletic Director Corey Goff credits the coaching staffs at Muhlenberg for all of the hard work they do to find student-athletes that fit athletically and academically at Muhlenberg.

Our coaches do most of the recruiting work for our department. They spend a great deal of time traveling, evaluating prospects, talking to high school and travel, and club coaches. They sell Muhlenberg to recruits and their families in an effort to build a large enough funnel of quality student athletes to ensure we yield great classes each year,” said Goff.

At a college with an enrollment of about 2400 students and 22 varsity athletic teams, Goff notes that coaches must recruit a substantial number of student-athletes in order for Muhlenberg to meet their overall enrollment goals.

“On average, student athletes recruited by our coaches make up 25-30% of each first-year class at Muhlenberg, so our coaches play a major role in helping the college meet our overall enrollment goals.” Although Muhlenberg coaches are the main players in recruiting student-athletes, Goff offers a helping hand to the coaches in the recruiting process of student-athletes.

“I offer assistance by occasionally meeting with prospective student athletes and their families, discussing recruiting strategy with coaches and by working with our colleagues in admissions to establish and implement our strategic plan for athletic recruitment,” said Goff.

Goff also holds the coaches to high standards when recruiting student-athletes in order to represent Muhlenberg in the best possible manner.

“First and foremost, we want to represent Muhlenberg with professionalism, class, and integrity throughout the recruiting process,” explained Goff.

There is also the need for coaches to recruit student-athletes that want to have a positive liberal arts education experience as well as help their respective athletic program win championships.

“We want to recruit student athletes who are interested in a quality, residential liberal arts experience and have a burning desire to reach their fullest potential in the classroom, in our community and in their athletic endeavors,” said Goff. “We want to attract great students who contribute positively to our community and want to win championships.”

“First and foremost, we want to represent Muhlenberg with professionalism, class, and integrity throughout the recruiting process,” Corey Goff, Athletic Director

For each sport the process and timetable to recruit athletes who want to succeed both in the classroom and on the field may be challenging, but coaches at ‘Berg have found ways to recruit as best as possible.

“In terms of location, Muhlenberg is in a prime spot compared to our competitors,” said Eddinger. “Our campus is one hour from Philadelphia, and one and a half hours from New York City. Campus is easily accessible for prospective student athletes who are traveling around the Tri-State Area searching for an institution.”

Keckler had similar thoughts.

“Every institution has their challenges, but each one also has a niche. We have to work our angles and find the kid that is in our niche,” she said. “Recruiting is not easy, but it’s a fun and challenging process.”

 

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