Jess Koizumi started as the program’s new head coach in June of 2017 and is going into her third season at the University of Vermont in 2019-20. Koizumi became the head coach at UVM after being an assistant coach at Yale University and Ohio State University, Koizumi is no stranger to the student-athlete recruiting process.
A two-time captain of the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, Koizumi helped lead them to a berth in the 2007 national championship game, earning Frozen Four All-Tournament team and all-WCHA honors in the process. She also represented Team USA at several international competitions.
Before making a move to OSU, Koizumi worked as an assistant coach at Yale University for six years where one of her primary roles entailed serving as the recruiting coordinator.
LRT Sports: What are some important qualities you look for in a student-athlete?
LRT Sports: What age do you start the recruiting process?
Coach Koizumi: This is all dependent on what our team needs are. Being in a comfortable recruiting position now, we start tracking grade seven as the youngest. However, we have added some girls in grade 11 to our recruiting pool. With that said, if there is a student-athlete that we like, we may even make an offer early on. We don’t like timelines, but with the competitiveness of other programs, in some instances, we must place timelines on recruits so that we can move on if they don’t choose us.
LRT Sports: Are there any teams, leagues, or showcase tournaments that you would recommend a recruit attend to gain exposure? What should a recruit do if they are unable to play at one of these teams/events?
Coach Koizumi: There are many staple tournaments that every school in the country attend to recruit. In September, the NAHA Labor Day Tournament and Stoney Creek Tournament are big events. Two others are the US-Canada Cup in Detroit during November, and the same tournament in December in Kitchener, Ontario. If a recruit is unable to play on a program that goes to these events, they need to showcase themselves by making a resume and visiting the schools they are interested in. There are various showcases and development camps they can sign up for in the summer as well. Elite players that make U18 teams or camps are guaranteed to be scouted much easier.
LRT Sports: Do you recruit internationally? If so, please explain.
Coach Koizumi: Recruiting is very competitive, and we try to recruit the best. If there’s an international talent, we will try our best to recruit them. Since we do have a recruiting budget, sometimes we need to be creative by watching games online and relying heavily on connections from people we know that get to see these players on a more consistent basis. Unofficial visits aren’t as easy for international students. FaceTime tours of our facilities and getting to know each other is more common.
Lrt Sports: How heavily of a factor are academics during the recruiting process? When do you recommend student-athletes begin taking standardized tests (SAT, ACT, etc.) and what is an ideal score to strive for?
Coach Koizumi: Academics are a vital part of the recruiting process. They may not weigh as much as the athletic side of things for non-Ivy League programs, but it will help in other areas.
Many schools will offer academic scholarships. If a student-athlete isn’t offered a full athletic scholarship, they have opportunities to earn academic scholarships if their grades and test scores are high enough. Doing well in academics will also open more doors when it comes to choosing a school.
Spring during sophomore year is the ideal time to take standardized tests. As far as an ideal score, it is dependent on what kind of school the student-athlete is interested in.
LRT Sports: Is social media an important aspect of recruiting? What advice do you have for student-athletes regarding their online presence?
Coach Koizumi: Social media isn’t necessarily a necessity in the recruiting process. The important aspect that recruits need to understand is to make sure their social media accounts are professional. I have seen some programs de-commit student-athletes based on inappropriate postings. I do suggest that student-athletes create a twitter account and follow their top schools to learn more about each program.
LRT Sports: What do you hope to get out of on-campus visits from a recruit (both unofficial and official)?
Coach Koizumi: The unofficial visit is today’s version of an official visit because student-athletes are making their decisions between grade 9 and grade 11. We are not allowed to provide official visits until the fall of grade 12. During the unofficial visit, we try to make sure we only open it up to student-athletes that we are serious about committing. It takes a great deal of planning, but we try to be unique and different in some things we provide on the visit so that ours stands out. That visit many times will determine whether or not our recruits choose us.
LRT Sports: Are family advisors (or agents) necessary for getting recruited?
Coach Koizumi: Most showcases have college panels and seminars that will provide the information needed to guide families in the recruiting process. If you are talented, scouts will find you.
LRT Sports: Do you look for special qualities in a player that are distinct or essential to the OSU program? Please explain.
Coach Koizumi: We are looking for players that fit the mold of our core values based around: Family, Relentless, Sacrifice, Gratefulness, and Honor. As a player, we want talented workhorses who will buy into our systems and are coachable. We also recruit based on our needs and would take different types of players dependent on what we graduate. However, at the end of the day, talent is talent, so if they are great character kids, we will try our best to recruit the best team possible.
LRT Sports: If you could provide student-athletes looking to be recruited with one piece of advice, what would it be?
Coach Koizumi: There is always a home for every student-athlete. It may not be your number one school, but there is always home. Do not be discouraged in the recruiting process, be proactive, and put your best foot forward in your training and academics. The better you do in all areas; the more doors will open for you to choose from.
LRT Sports: What are the benefits of sending a highlight tape(s) to college coaches?
Coach Koizumi: Depends on what school. I know some Division III schools rely heavily on the highlight tapes because of their limited recruiting budgets. Many times, I don’t look at the highlight videos unless they are goaltenders. I like to see my recruits play live; it’s very different than a highlight film. Watching what they do when they are away from the puck and how they handle mistakes is important.
LRT Sports: What elements/skills displayed on a highlight tape most capture your attention and garner your interest in a potential recruit (ex. skating, goal-scoring, body language, etc.)?
Coach Koizumi: As far as what to highlight on videos, goals, dekes, blocks, and defensive plays are apparent. Having music in the background is a fun way to jazz it up. Just give the scouts a taste of what your playing style is like. Hopefully, they will gain interest from it and then set up a recruiting trip to watch you play live.
*Note: This interview was conducted when Coach Koizumi was an assistant coach at The Ohio State University
Edited by Caroline Kurdej
When doing research in the recruiting process for my daughter I came across the LRT Sports website. I was immediately intrigued as this was another dimension of the recruiting process that many people don't even consider. My daughter and I could "short list" schools based on the education she was looking for, as well as the opportunity to play her sport. LRT Sports not only gave us pertinent information into the recruiting process with different interviews of coaches and players, it also gave us insight into current and/or former players' opinions on the coach of that school in her sport. We could use this information to re-prioritize my daughters list of schools based on this feedback. I have many friends that are, or will be, going through this process shortly and I highly recommend using LRT Sports as part of anyone's recruiting process.
The college process presents a myriad of challenges. Factor in athletics and it becomes even more daunting. Now, add the fact that you have zero experience with sports. What is a the mother of a college bound student-athlete to do? LRT Sports has truly lived up to its promise. It has kept "the college recruiting process honest and easy by providing first hand information about coaches, schools and the recruiting process." Their interviews with current students, coaches, and professional athletes have provided realistic guidance. I am much more informed because of LRT Sports! The coach ratings are the most helpful. LRT Sports interviews allow us to hear from students as to how the adults are impacting not only their athletic experience but also how they are helping to shape their adult self.
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.
If you have something that’s going to spell [the recruiting process] out for you… it’s so valuable. I think what everyone at LRT Sports is doing to spread the word and help advocate and educate athletes on the recruitment process is incredible.
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.