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Recruiting technology: Despite rural locales, talent can be found via Web, legwork at small schools
The Gazette takes a look at how the Digital Age has added to the increasing competition to get noticed in the world of college athletics.
The series began Sunday and ends Wednesday, national signing day.
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- Hockey players go down different recruiting path
- Instant access helps Air Force in "intelligence gathering"
- Technology changes experience for AFA star Michael Lyons and younger brother
College coaches and scouts probably don’t have the Tri-Peaks League cross country meet or key Black Forest League basketball games circled on their calendars. But that doesn’t mean kids from rural areas or private schools go unnoticed.
A partnership of new-age technology, coupled with time-tested work on the phone and networking, makes sure diamonds in the rough are rewarded the same as touted blue-chip athletes in metropolitan areas.
Track and cross country runners benefit from MileSplit, which got its start in 2000 as a grassroots effort to publicize the sport at a statewide level. It's branched out to also include sites covering Canadian events, and college and university races.
While highlight videos are nice, there’s nothing more convenient than tracking top runners at races of any size from your home. Longtime The Classical Academy cross country coach Alan Versaw serves as the state webmaster and spends countless hours compiling results and creating editorials from myriad events throughout the year.
“We’re on that site multiple times a week, and college recruiters are doing the same,” said Colorado Springs Christian School cross country and track coach Mike Caton, who is in his 12th year. “We assume if we’re ranking, we’ll show up on there, and people are looking. It’s a great resource.”
While technology has provided a bridge for athletes to market themselves through highlight videos and social media, there’s plenty to be said about legwork, no pun intended.
“If they want to see me, they can come and watch,” Peyton junior basketball player Shelby Patterson said. “My coach does a lot of work and sends film out if schools ask. But I haven’t sent anything out on my own or posted anything. It’s better if I can show them what I can do.”
Patterson is familiar with the recruiting process since her older sister, Sam, received a scholarship to Colorado-Colorado Springs in 2011. Shelby is keeping an open mind, especially with exposure from club basketball in the offing this summer.
“With high school, you’re playing and representing your school,” Patterson said. “Club makes it more personal. You do get more experience from the tough teams you play.”
Playing on a winning high school team doesn’t hurt, either. The rise of girls’ programs at Peyton and several 2A state appearances by Evangelical Christian Academy have put both schools in the spotlight, which provides more scouting opportunities.
Last season, The Vanguard School made its first girls’ 2A state berth. Not coincidentally, the phones in coach Frank Haist’s office ring a little more.
“So much of recruiting is networking, and a lot of it is footwork, but I feel like if you’re good, they’ll find you,” said Haist, whose Coursers remain undefeated and considered among the state’s best. “Because someone is 2A, they might fly under the radar.”
Thanks to national websites such as MaxPreps, college recruiters and scouts can not only track games, but can compare players’ stats, regardless of class. What they’ll find is that Peyton’s Victoria Goodman and Vanguard’s Bailey Haist – Frank’s daughter – are among three players in the state who are averaging at least three 3-pointers a game.
“I’ve had colleges call me based on my players’ stats, and they’ll want to see that person to back up the stats,” said Peyton girls’ coach Tony Goodman, Victoria’s father. “Some coaches will request a video. It’s easy access to get a video, but there’s no question that coaches want to see players in person, either in club or in high school.”