Connecticut College Field Hockey Coach Christine Needham Offers Recruiting Advice

Coach Needham enters her fourth year as head coach at Connecticut College with seven years of college coaching under her belt. During these seven years, Needham has coached all three NCAA divisions coaching at schools such as: American International College, Kenyon College, and the University of Massachusetts.

What advice would you offer a recruit who looking to play Connecticut College field hockey?

I would advise them to reach out to me via email, preferably with video footage, so that we can begin working through the recruiting process. I would also encourage them to schedule a campus visit as soon as possible, ideally during a time that classes are in session.

When should an athlete contact you and what is the best way? (age, grade, time of year, email, phone or other)

Initial contact is best via email. I will add athletes to our recruiting database upon their initial contact but do not start corresponding on any type of regular basis until late summer or fall of their junior year of high school.

What do you look for in recruits? 

Strong basic skills, athleticism and the ability to execute these skills at speed and/or under pressure are certainly a priority for me. However, I think it is even more important to look for competitive, self-motivated athletes who want to work hard to improve and learn. If I can evaluate the degree in which an athlete is a “team player” during the recruiting process, this is also very valuable.  

What competitive advantage does Connecticut College have over other schools in the NESCAC League?

I believe we have the best career education program in the NESCAC conference and to me, one of the best campus locations, based on our proximity to Boston, New York, Providence and Hartford, as well as the shoreline.

Since a defensive player doesn’t have the same stats as a forward, what is the best way they can showcase themselves?

Game highlights can be very helpful. In this videos, showcase your ability to read the attacking play coming at you and your anticipation skills to step up to intercept passes. Show footage of your 1v1 tackling skills and your ability to distribute the ball to your team’s attack once you get possession. In addition, show footage of your ability to use your own attacking skills to get out of the defensive space or to create a foul so that your team can earn a free hit and relieve pressure.

What really jumps out at you when reviewing a recruit’s highlight tape?

Athleticism and an ability to execute skills at a high pace and/or under pressure.

What are the main do’s and don’ts for a recruit’s highlight tape?

Keep it short! A five minute video is plenty long. Showcase what you’re good at and leave out the areas or skills in which you aren’t as strong. If you are a goalie, include some drill work so coaches can see footwork and technique in repetition. For field players, I prefer a combination of skill drills and game highlights.  

When do you recommend recruits put together and share their highlight reels? Is it best to make their highlight reel during offseason, in the middle of season, or after each game?

I’d recommend a recruit posts their highlight reels on their own YouTube channel or other personal page that can be updated as they get more footage. A few highlight reels during the competitive season and short reels from specific recruiting events are appreciated. Also, it is helpful if the recruit emails me with the link to their video page when new footage is posted.

How big a factor is social media when recruiting players? What advice do you have for athletes regarding social media?

My best advice is to imagine that coaches are reading anything you post. Of course they aren’t, but you never know which post might catch a coach’s eye and you’d hate for it to be an inappropriate one. A number of coaches use search engines to research recruits before meeting them or moving forward in the recruiting process, so be sure any pages that can be found via an internet search contain appropriate content.

What advice do you have for coaches that are working with recruitable players? How can they make sure their athletes get in front of the right people?

I would advise coaches to have honest and realistic conversations with their athletes about their academic and athletic goals so that they can provide relevant guidance in the recruiting process. I also recommend getting out to see college games in your area at all levels of NCAA competition, so that you are familiar with the level of play at each. This will help you in trying to determine what types of program and what level each of your athletes would fit in best at, if any. As college coaches, we appreciate honest evaluations from club and high school coaches about their players. Please be prepared to discuss strengths and weaknesses of your athletes athletically, but also academically, and interpersonally.


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Photo courtesy of: Connecticut College Athletics

* Originally published on February 13, 2017, by LRT Staff

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