Kelly Blackhurst is the Head Coch of the Field Hockey program at the Roger Williams University Athletic Department. Before her position at Roger Williams, she coached at Misericordia.
Coach Blackhurst had numerous accolades in the field hockey world, perhaps most notably being named the D3 Player of the Year in 2013 and breaking a few school records. After graduating from Skidmore, Kelly has begun a career in coaching college field hockey, thus making her a very interesting and well-rounded person to interview about recruiting.
LRT Sports: How did you go about reaching out to coaches? Was it difficult since you were from a small town?
Coach Blackhurst: I began looking at schools in 9th grade. That may seem early to some people, but I wanted to tour a variety of campuses so I could narrow down my search. At the end of my 10th-grade year, I began contacting college coaches. As I grew up in an isolated town in the northern part of New York State, I needed to put myself out there. Some athletes have the luxury of playing for well-known high schools. My high school team was the furthest north field hockey team in New York. We never made it past the second round of sectionals. Coaches were not going to see me. I had to make myself visible. To be noticed, I attended numerous camps at institutions I was interested in throughout high school, participated in Futures, which was almost three hours away, and joined a club team that was 1.5 hours away. In addition, I attend numerous recruiting events such as College Connection and the National Field Hockey Festival.
LRT Sports: What was the most challenging part of your recruiting process?
Coach Blackhurst: As I was from a tiny town and mediocre field hockey team, I felt resistance from college coaches. I was an unknown entity. Why would a D1 big-name school want to look at a small-town athlete? Some coaches ignored me entirely while others took the time to get to know me, understand my situation, and create a relationship with me.
Why did you decide to go DIII instead of DI or DII?
Coach Blackhurst: I wanted to play for a highly competitive team and make an impact. I did not want to play for the middle of the road D1 team. Additionally, I wanted to have a full college experience. D3 allowed me to do this. Plus, I was able to play in numerous championship games and compete against other nationally ranked teams. Looking back, I always wonder what life would have been like if I had attended a D1 school. At the end of the day, though, I am glad I made the decision that I did. I received a high-quality education and played for a nationally ranked team.
LRT Sports: What do you wish you knew while recruiting?
Coach Blackhurst: A couple of questions come to mind that I wish I had asked during my recruiting process.
LRT Sports: What advice would you give to current high school students looking to play in college?
Coach Blackhurst: Here are some thoughts for the athlete.
Updated: October 29, 2019
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The C.A.L.C. was thrilled to have Keirsten Sires come and speak to us on multiple topics relevant to high school athletics today, including recruiting. Keirsten reached all of our students and left them with great strategies that will not only help on the fields, courts, and mats, but also in the game of recruiting. She was a true professional and delivered a wonderful message.
Now that the recruiting process and the related stress is over, I wanted to thank you for your guidance. You did so much more than we had expected. Once you started the process by matching the best academic schools first, not the best sport programs, I knew you were the one. The way you laid out a timeline of contacting coaches, visits, and camps completely took any guesswork out of the plan for us. All of the student athletes that you put us in touch with gave us a look from the inside, and made us more comfortable knowing what was coming. Finally, using your website as a resource for knowing what to expect from different coaches based on former recruit reviews gave my son confidence before our meetings. There is no way we could have figured this out on our own, you really put us in a great position when decision time came.
I think hearing from other athletes is very beneficial. To be able to learn from people’s mistakes, and to be able to have access to those voices is really helpful; especially voices that have been there and done that. It’s very important for people to have access to information that could benefit them, and in this case there are many voices that can help the next wave of athletes.
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Without question would have used LRT Sports. It would have probably been one of the most valuable tools that I could have had. If you want to know what these coaches are really like then I think this is the best tool out there. I’m really glad you are allowing recruits to have a resource like this moving forward.