Following the cancellation of the 2020 spring racing season, row2k solicited the collegiate coaching community to engage in a variety of high-level topics within the profession. We submitted over sixty questions across a dozen topics and thank the coaches and staffs that found time to contribute their thoughts during this stressful time.
This week we focus on the topic of Recruiting with the following question:
WHAT SORT OF INTANGIBLE QUALITIES DO YOU LOOK FOR IN POTENTIAL RECRUITS FOR YOU PROGRAM?
ALICEA STRODEL – MINNESOTA WOMEN
We want athletes who are hardworking, mature and passionate about rowing. We just read Grit by Angela Duckworth with our staff and team. The book discusses that effort is twice as important as talent when it comes to achievement. As recruiters, we are drawn to the talent first: erg scores, race results, physiology, technique. However, we know that passion and perseverance fuels great teams and that is what we are seeking.
LUKE AGNINI – GEORGETOWN HEAVYWEIGHT MEN
At the end of the day, I am looking for someone that I enjoy coaching every day, and that does not mean someone who is easy to coach, but someone that wants to be coached and someone who is driven. We take a lot of pride in developing guys here and that takes a lot of work. What makes that harder is someone that doesn’t want to be coached and by that, I mean someone who physically shows up, but is emotionally absent. Some guys think this is middle school and they’ll get an attendance award.
I love it when recruits make it clear that they are fully on board through good times and bad, they just want to get good. I’ll coach that all day,
TREVOR MICHELSON – DARTMOUTH LIGHTWEIGHT MEN
There are athletic and academic parameters that one must hit to be considered a potential student athlete at a given institution. However, much of the recruiting process has nothing to do with these numbers. We are looking for athletes with a passion for the sport, ability to work well in a team setting, the ability to check your ego at the door, and an internal motivation that drives you to train often, row hard, and race with tenacity, courage, and stubbornness.
MADELINE DAVIS – BOSTON UNIVERSITY WOMEN
I’m looking for great athletes and students, of course, but I’m also looking for the right cultural fit. Every team and university have a unique identity. No matter how talented the rower, if she’s not a good fit for the place, she’s never going to be satisfied or reach her full potential. We’re very mindful of bringing in rowers that we believe are going to do well at the school, be a good fit for the location and the vibe of campus, and get along with their teammates, in addition to increasing boat speed.
JAMIE FRANCIS – EMBRY RIDDLE
Ultimately, I need to like the person I’m recruiting. It doesn’t matter how fast they are, if we can’t connect on a personal level and have a good conversation it’s hard for me to offer that person a spot on my team and hang out with them for the next four years and maintain that relationship as an alumnus. Those intangibles include a sense of humor (appreciating dad / coach jokes), a good work ethic, a competitive spirit, and the ability to know when it’s time for jokes and when it’s time for work.
LIZZIE KINNEY – BATES
Passion. If we can identify that a recruit has passion for the sport, then everything else will come in time. This is the one driving force behind success. If they have passion, that leads to love, which leads to fun.
If these three things come out while they are rowing then, without a doubt, they will be successful in their own way. They may not be the fastest person on the team, but they will most definitely help others find that fun and passion, which in turns makes the entire team faster.
BILL ZACK – SAN DIEGO STATE WOMEN
Perhaps the most important quality is the level of self-motivation that the recruit demonstrates. College rowing is an awesome activity, but it is really demanding. People who truly love competitive rowing, not just merely being on a rowing team, have the greatest likelihood of success. True self-motivation is important when the academic crunch really hits or the workout is really tough, and especially during off periods like winter break when athletes need to train on their own.
I also look for recruits who get it, who really understand what rowing in college entails. Some people underestimate things like the difficulty of living away from home, and the freedom and responsibility that comes with that. College academics are usually more demanding than high school academics, even though there is a ton of academic support at most schools. Plus, the competitive challenges are greater in college because at most programs you are getting a lot of really good high school rowers, and good walk-on athletes, all competing for a limited number of race opportunities.
ANONYMOUS HEAD COACH
We are almost more interested in a person’s character than their athletic stats. Compassion, courage, accountability, integrity, competitiveness, leadership, and esprit de corps.
EMILIE GROSS – NORTH CAROLINA WOMEN
Clearly when looking at recruits we are looking at their ability to be a student-athlete, so that is raw data like test scores and erg scores, but that just categories them. From there, so many potential student-athletes fall into the same grouping. Meaning we need to look for someone that we feel will positively impact our program and the Carolina Community, someone that flawlessly could fit into our Carolina Rowing Family. Each year is different in what the needs might be, but I feel like when you know, you know.
JOHN BOYD – IONA
I’m looking for people with an obvious passion for what they’re doing. You can hear it in their voice on the phone or when you meet them on a visit. I’m less concerned with your erg score than I am finding someone with a passion who will fit in with our culture. With an environment filled with the right people the erg scores will take care of themselves.
JIM LISTER – HAMILTON
I like team players. Do they look to help others in their program?
CAMPBELL WOODS – MARIST MEN
We look for a fighting mentality and a personal desire for improvement. We like to ask incoming athletes what their goals for their collegiate career to see if they have a tangible and measurable drive to succeed beyond what they have already done. Nobody wants an athlete whose plan is to spend the next 4 years going the same speed they went in HS. We want athletes who have a chip on their shoulder or a fire in their belly or whatever it is that makes an athlete reach outside their comfort zone and find new performance frontiers.
KERRY HASSALL – TULSA WOMEN
Genuine interest. If they are telling us what they think we want to hear, we can tell.
BART THOMPSON – ADRIAN
As a young program we are looking for rowers who want to be a key part of building our program’s legacy. We want them to have a desire to be a leader, someone who isn’t just going to be a part of the program but rather a foundational, crucial piece of it.
We also look for rowers that just really love to train and constantly improve themselves.
Lastly, but importantly, we want rowers that love being a good teammate. That rower needs to love being a part of something bigger than themselves; they need to love seeing the team succeed, not just the individual.
NICK JOHNSON – BARRY WOMEN
Since we recruit so many international athletes, we look for recruits who are social and can get along with people from different cultures. On the water, we get so many different styles that walk through our door, we need them all to adapt to the stroke that we want the whole team to have.