Faculty and coaches give insight to the college recruiting process

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A variety of college pennants line the wall of the College Counseling Office. Photo by Anthony Wise ’22

Rease Coleman, a 5th form field hockey player, said coach Jennifer Weissbach “made everything possible” during her recruitment process. She said Weissbach helped her gain confidence and develop as a player.

Weissbach, head girls field hockey coach and head dorm parent of Upper School, said her role in recruiting is “as big or as small each girl wants it to be.” 

Weissbach’s role at the school as a teacher and a dorm parent allows for her to advocate past the field for her players. “Coaches want to know what this kid is like off the field, and my role is to be able to talk about the whole person, not just the player,” she said. 

To elaborate on her role in recruiting, Weissbach explained that her behind-the-scenes work consists of FaceTimes, texts, and calls with college coaches. She also explained that an essential aspect of the recruiting process is to bring coaches into practices and games to watch the girls play. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA has extended the dead period for recruiting. Weissbach said, “Covid has impacted our juniors the most,” as all of the seniors are signed and committed to various schools. 

Although the pandemic has hit, Weissbach and the Hill field hockey girls are trying not to take any steps back with recruiting. “Something I encourage our kids to do more so now than before is consistent clear communication, sending updates every few weeks.” This allows college coaches to know what is going on and continue to follow the players. 

Weissbach said she is proud of all her athletes. “My goal is to get them to where they want to go — whether it is Division I, II, or III, I don’t care.” 

She explained it was a “fun and full circle” moment when the coach she played for, who recruited her to Dartmouth, recruited two athletes she is now coaching. 

See below to hear Rease Coleman ’22 elaborate on field hockey coach Jen Weissbach’s role in her recruiting:

 

College Counselor Ellen Dietrich’s role is to support students from the time they enter the college process until they are committed to a school; she stresses the importance of finding the right fit academically and socially in addition to the athletic component. 

Dietrich encourages students to look at factors such as the setting of the school, its size, and what they want to study. In her words, the students she advises are “student-athletes not athlete-students,” and it is super important for them to go somewhere where if their sports career ceased they would still be happy and able to thrive as a whole person.

Mrs. Dietrich said the hardest part of her job is when a student doesn’t hear a yes from the school they wanted to go to. What she enjoys the most is helping students come out of the college process speaking to their strengths and celebrating themselves. Another aspect of the job she thoroughly enjoys is writing letters of recommendation. 

A memorable experience for Mrs. Dietrich during her career as a college counselor was with a student at Penn Charter who ended up quarterbacking for Wisconsin and won a Rose Bowl Championship. When the pro offers he was expecting didn’t come in and he felt stuck, he reached out to Mrs. Dietrich for help. He is now a physical education teacher, and Dietrich said that, in that role, he helps tons of kids. 

Seth Eilberg, athletic director and head boys basketball coach, plays a large role and is very familiar with the college recruitment process. On the annual varsity coaches retreat, two main topics are discussed: recruiting in and recruiting out. 

For “recruiting in,” he talked about the importance of hiring great coaches at Hill who has a system of networks and has a good idea of the college recruiting landscape in order to best support student-athletes in the recruitment process. This contributes to making “recruiting out” for student-athletes at Hill a successful process where they can gain spots on a college roster. 

As a basketball coach, Eilberg feels his job is to know as many coaches as possible so that when he picks up the phone or emails a college about a player they take that seriously. He stressed the importance of advocating for his players with credibility and building relationships with a wide range of schools. 

He advises students to go where they’re wanted and to build authentic relationships with those coaches: “If they’re showing love, show love back.” Eilberg takes tremendous pride and joy in seeing kids move on to the next level and seeing the financial impact a free education can have on a family. 

Eilberg described the effects of COVID-19 on the recruitment process. Something he feels Hill players has benefited from is the ability to film games and communicate with coaches remotely. A downside he sees is that there will be fewer spots for student-athletes coming out of high school due to eligibility rules and transfers.

Mike Murphy, the student-athlete recruiting coordinator, also plays a significant role in every Hill student-athlete’s recruitment process. Murphy explained the problems in recruiting during the pandemic. He described recruiting problems as a “domino effect” that no one really knows where it will stop.

As the varsity boys lacrosse coach at Hill, Murphy has an extensive resume. “Before Hill, I have coached for about 25 years in college at all different levels: Division I, II, and III,” he said. “So from that perspective, it works to my skill set.”

The NCAA ClearingHouse is very important to the recruiting process for the athletes planning on playing Division I or II. Murphy explained that he oversees this collection of data for every athlete so that they can prove they are who they say they are. 

Murphy put a lot of emphasis on students having knowledge about schools that are recruiting them. He explained that some students don’t know specifics about the demographics or surroundings of the campus they are planning on playing at. He concluded, “I think the best advice for the best fit is you have to do research on schools.”