Coaches at Dixie State University are searching high and low for those who eager to be Trailblazers.
Though an athletic team is often judged for its performance on the field, court or pool during its season, much of what happens in the off-season contributes to the season’s outcome and the never-ending process to recruit the best players.
“You are never really out of season for recruiting,” swimming head coach Benjamin Rae said. “You just can’t ever get away from it.”
Each coach, no matter the sport, has some sort of game plan, process or route he or she prefers to take when seeking to get students to come and play for the Trailblazers. Coaches not only seek to find what recruits they can bring in the following season, but are seeking to get a head start into the future by scouting underclassmen in high school, Rae said.
Robyn Felder, the women’s volleyball head coach, said she relies on three main channels to determine what girls she wants on her team:
- She invites potential Trailblazers to DSU for an ID Camp in the spring of every year. Fifty or so students are invited to come show Felder and her coaching staff what they've got.
- Felder attends a number of volleyball tournaments within her recruiting region primarily the western United States, to pinpoint the exact players she would like to have on her team.
- She uses technology as a resource for seeing stats, videos, etc. on players she has her eyes on.
Even though athletic talent and skill are crucial to individuals on team sports, Felder, Rae and Kacey Bingham, women’s soccer head coach, said they seek to find athletes who are good in the classroom and value education.
“I definitely look for a high-quality kid,” Felder said. “You can tell by their court presence, how they treat their teammates, (and) how they treat their coach. If they are eye-rolling (or) their body language is bad, you can tell those things in five minutes.”
Bingham acknowledged recruiting is much more than pitching the team and the university, but is also about advertising the community and the area of St. George itself. She said St. George is a great place that presents numerous outdoor activities in a community that supports DSU athletics.
“[We] have low cost tuition that is a big selling point for a lot of them, even out-of-state,” Rae said. “Some of them are looking for scholarships wherever they can get [one]: academically or athletically. [With St. George] being a strong [LDS] area, [it’s] a huge attraction.”
Coaches are then sent to the drawing board to figure out how and what they can offer their preferred recruits. Because DSU and most Division II schools don’t have the funds to give every athlete a full-ride scholarship, coaches are allotted a specific number of scholarships they can divide amongst their players. Some get tuition. Some get books and fees. Others may get a combo of these plus other incentives. DSU even has the ability to offer tuition waivers as a way to corral players into signing letters of intent.
"Everyone has an opportunity to compete, grow and develop," Bingham said. "Every athlete can have significant growth from year to year and it is more about knowing how to push yourself."