Post #72 – 7/19/22 – Recruiting In Full Swing, Coaching Changes, Sifters

Latest From… The Women’s College Hockey Podcast – Episode #3A…

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In This Post…

Recruiting In Full Swing

We are exactly 1-month into D-I coaches being allowed to initiate direct contact with recruits and family members (phone/email/text/social media), who are entering grade 11 next Fall. D-I coaches are also back on the recruiting trail as of June 1. The ‘Recruiting Ramp-Up’ bas we call it brings a lot of intrigue, excitement, as well as some heartache too. Over the next few days we’ll dive-in and give you a run-down of what we are hearing from D-I coaches about their first contacts with recruits, the changing landscape of recruiting events this summer, and an introduction to the NCAA Transformation Committee: What is it, why it was created, what they have been charge to do, and how college athletics… namely women’s college hockey… will be impacted.

On The Phones, 1st Contacts, and Information Overload… It seems not as many verbal commitments are happening out of the gate as perhaps in years passed. Word from a lot of NCAA coaches we’ve talked to is players are interested in taking their time before pulling the trigger on a verbal commitment. Why? They want to visit campus as a part of their decision making process. We say hallelujah to that. Perhaps the pandemic had something to do with the delay in commitments? Not many families were able or flat-out decided – not to travel and visit campuses. It’s nice to actually hear a majority of players want to do their homework. Not all have though. There have been some early commitments, but far less that usual.

In our conversations w/ Club & high school coaches, they are indicating many parents/players are finding themselves under-prepared for the volume of calls, types of conversations players and parents are having, and are a bit overwhelmed. This is very typical to be honest. There is SO much info to wrap ones head around on these types of calls. If you’re a really good player, just imagine fielding 10, 20, 30, 35+ calls, emails, texts on June 15th. That’s a lot of time on the phone and a lot of info to keep track of. There are sales professional who don’t experience that kind of workload.

Unless recruits & their parents have had someone else in the family or a best friend go through the process, you would have no idea what was about to come your way June 15. There are some club/high school coaches who help their players with what to expect in terms of the types of questions they could get and what to be prepared for – but it’s rare to find this. Most recruits & families have no idea how many programs are going to try and get in touch with them. But when schools do, you need to be prepared. There are some best practices we recommend – outlined below… whether it’s a D-I or D-III program reaching out – makes absolutely no difference.

Recruiting Calls – Best Practices

  • Create a plan to organize call info… use a notebook, laptop/computer, phone – however best works for you, but find way to keep track what you talk about w/ each school and coach. After the call is over, write down your initial thoughts, good or bad and any next steps discussed.
  • Know what comes next with that school now that you’ve had that initial phone call by asking, ‘Ah, Coach, what happens next in your process, how do we move forward from here?’ That is assuming you have interest in that school. Knowing what you want to happen next also helps b/c a coach might just turn the question back at you for direction.
  • Do your research… look online at each school/hockey program after your call. May be you go visit campus on your own without the coaching staff. If you’re really interested in the school, reach out to an alum parent/player to ask questions and get a first-hand account of someones experience (social media is great for getting in touch w/ former players/parents!), Check-out the roster and gauge avail spots that may open up due to graduation. 
  • Have a list of questions ready to ask… how many players at my position are you recruiting for? Have you made any offers yet? Have any commitments? When do you typically make offers? What kind of grades do I need to get in, etc. Having a list of questions ready to go makes you seem interested and prepared – and coaches love players who give some thought to the school/hockey program they’re engaging with.
  • Think about answers to questions you could get asked so you know how to respond… “Well Susie, we’re all for full this year, but we’d love to take you in our class of ’25, how would you feel about taking a gap year??—is a very real question you could get. I know you played Center last year, what about a year or two on D for us? How would you feel if you didn’t play much and had to wait a bit for regular playing time? Would you commit right now on the phone to us? What major are you looking for? What other schools are on your list? All of these could potentially get asked. Again, doing your homework and having answers tells coaches you’ve actually thought about these scenarios and are prepared.

Bottom line, be organized and prepare for what could happen. This type of prep. work will show well to any coach!

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Plenty of Coaching Changes

Last year we saw upwards of over 50 coaching changes across D-I/D-III, which we kept track of and can be found HERE. We’re doing the same this summer as well and we’re already at 61 & counting. You can find our ’22-’23 Coaching Changes Tracker Document of to date – HERE.

Here are a few takeaways…

  • Leaving the NCAA Coaching Profession to Play Pro… Thus far, 3 D-I assistants have left the coaching profession to sign pro deals in the PHF. Former Assistant coaches Breanne Wilson-Bennet of Union College, Melissa Samoskevich of Penn State, and Claudia Kepler of Syracuse have all moved on from coaching to play in the PHF. With the Premier Hockey Federation’s salary cap jumping to $750,000 this season and teams having to spend at least 75% of their cap, players are now positioned to make more than ever before. We thought this might be something that would occur if/when salaries and the $ became enticing enough for female Coaches who weren’t finished with their playing days. The ability to play has a shelf-life, obviously. It will be interesting to see if more NCAA teams will lose staff to not only play professionally, but perhaps to other coaching opportunities on the men’s pro-side as well.
  • It has been a very active season for coaching and professional staff changes. There have been 6 D-I head coaching hires which was 1 more than last year. Two of which are newer programs basically starting from the ground up in Robert Morris University and Assumption College. I say basically ‘starting up’ because both Assumption and Robert Morris do have some kind of history as they aren’t totally brand new programs.
  • As always, there are a few dominos that fall which create additional positions that need to be filled when current open positions get filled by coaches already coaching at a different school. When this happens, it tells us coaches are getting ‘recycled’, a common trend you see in the NHL and at all levels of hockey really. It also means very few ‘newbies’ are getting their chance to get into the game. Tough to tell what the applicant pools were for each position.

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Little tidbits from around the world of women’s hockey

  • New Programs Set to Grow The Game… As documented in our 22-23 Coaching Changes Tracker, there are some new programs at D-I and D-III slated to come on board as soon as this season. Robert Morris University is in the midst of their reboot and will enter the CHA, its previous conference home, for the ’23-’24 season. Assumption University will elevate it’s ACHA club program to full NCAA D-II/D-I varsity status for ’23-’24 and have already inked a conference – The NEWHA and will be it’s 8th member. Stonehill College is a new program and will begin play this coming Fall in the NEWHA as its 7th member. Hilbert College, near Buffalo, NY will begin play this coming fall as a D-III program.
  • Women’s Hockey Makes Maccabiah Games Debut… Women’s Ice Hockey will make its inaugural appearance at this years games, thanks in large part to former Northeastern Grad Chelsea Goldberg. You can read the full story HERE in the Hockey News of how the event came to be.
  • New NCAA Rule Changes… Every two years the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee puts forth recommendations for new rules to take effect. the 22-23 season is such a year and there are a few new rules that if voted on (which should be known soon), will go into effect for the coming season. You can read what those new purposed rules are HERE
  • More Women Hired In Professional Men’s Hockey… Some very high profile female hires were made recently from the AHL to the NHL. This article is fantastic and documents how these opportunities are happening. It’s not by mistake thanks to the NHLCA. Read HERE.

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Until Next Time… Enjoy & Happy Reading!

-Streams for games in the ECAC can be found HERE. Subscriptions will be necessary to watch games.

-Streams in the WCHA can be found HERE. Subscriptions will be necessary to watch games.

-Streams in Hockey East this year can be found HERE. Hockey East once again is streaming all game live for FREE.

-Streams for CHA games with the exception of Penn St. can be found HERE. Subscriptions will be necessary to watch games.

-Streams for NEWHA games can be found at each teams’ website. Subscriptions may be necessary to watch games.

Grant Kimball is founder and contributing writer at Women’s College and beginning his 3rd season as an Assistant Coach with the Yale University women’s hockey program. Grant has developed an experienced perspective in the world of women’s ice hockey, having coached and recruited players from across the globe during his 25+ year amatuer and NCAA coaching career. He has coached at 6 NCAA DIII and DI programs in the NCHA (D3), the CHA, WCHA, Hockey East, ECAC, and the Ivy League (DI). Beyond coaching, Grant served as a site representative for the 2019 NCAA quarterfinal of the D-I NCAA Tournament. He also currently serves as an Officer with the American Hockey Coaches Association as Vice President of Membership and sits on the AHCA’s Women’s Hockey Executive Committee.

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