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September 18, 2018

Union College Men’s Head Hockey Coach Rick Bennett Offers Recruiting Advice

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Winning the NCAA DI Men’s Hockey Championship in the 2013-2014 season was a sizable feat for the Union College Men’s Ice Hockey Team. Coaching a team like this must be even harder. Sometimes being unable to provide one’s own skills into a game but being forced to watch it unfold is more laborious than playing the game itself. However, Rick Bennett is one of the best at it. Not only was Bennett apart of the Union Men’s Hockey Championship victory, but he also led that same college Hockey Team to the NCAA Frozen Four in 2012, got them to the NCAA Regional Finals in 2013 and  then the NCAA Semifinals in 2017. Bennett is well respected by his athletes and an accomplished Men’s Hockey coach. However, not only is he great at coaching, but he also excels at advising up and coming athletes as well!

Keirsten Sires, CEO & Founder of LRT Sports: “The information that coach Bennett has given us will help the high school recruits tremendously. He is a well-respected coach that leads champions on the ice. Our readers will be grateful for his advice, and I’m sure it will help lead high school student-athletes down the right path.”

If you are getting recruited you have an exceptional skill set in the sport you chose to play, that much is true. However, are you, as an individual, good enough player for their school? If you want to play for a school, you cannot just be an “exceptional athlete.” There are character values that coaches are looking for. Steps an individual should take to further their recruiting process. Being a recruit in itself is a full-time job, and there are not too many jobs out there that are just handed to you without hard work and dedication.

Coach Bennett had this to say, “The character of the individual. You see this through how he interacts with his teammates and family on a school visit.” Bennett reveals some of the hidden secrets that surround school visits. “As much as the college tour is about you getting to know the coach and the school, it is just as much the coach and the school trying to get to know you. Being an athlete is cool, but what about the person behind the athlete. Character is everything, whether it be when no one is looking, or everyone in the stadium has all eyes peeled. However, in the situation of the school visit, you know who is watching. Take advantage of the visit if given the opportunity to go on one. Show them the real you! Hopefully, they fall in love.”

How does one even get on the radar to go on a school visit in the first place? Fortunately, Bennett has the answer for that too. “Provide value during the game/practice,” Bennett says quite simply. “Show the people and the coaches something that is missing within the team you are playing for. Do they need a leader? Step up and lead! Do they need that first follower? Be the follower! Do they need a flashy player who knows all the tips and new tricks? Start learning about them! Alternatively, do they need someone who is going to hustle and be in the shadows of that flashy player, making all the plays happen? Start hiding in the shadows than my friend. Every team is missing something – maybe even the 2018-2019 Warriors Team. Find out what it is and fix it! You will make all the difference, and when things change, people notice. Especially when you start winning.”

So now your on their radar. What is next? Contact them? Yes. But how? Well, just think! How would you like to receive semi-formal information – besides snail mail? A call or an e-mail! Do not text them because that is just plain rude. Do not facetime them; they are not your best friend. A call or a simple email – if you are scared – will always suffice. Rick Bennett even said so!

So you are a coach’s radar, you have contacted them, and you feel like you are a pretty good person. However, even a good person can slip up and do some of the “don’ts” when pertaining to the “do’s” and “don’ts” of being recruited. Bennett provided LRT Sports with some information on what to do and what not to do during the recruiting process.

“First, there is the highlight tape. After you call and get yourself on the radar of your dream school, don’t mess it up with a bad first impression. Highlight tapes are the split second that a coach gets to see you in true raw form – athletically that is. However, “split second” is the key phrase here. Coaches get multiple videos of a plethora of other student-athletes, what makes you think they watch every minute of your 10-minute highlight tape of you doing trick-shots in your free time? Please do get the best plays of yourself doing different skills of the game. Show that you are versatile within the first minute or two of the clip. Coaches also enjoy when you mess up too. So show the best times you messed up but handled it correctly. They like to know the good and the bad about what athlete they are recruiting, and they want to know all of it within three minutes. So, keep it under three minutes. Don’t save the best for last this time.”

“Continuing with the concept of highlight tapes, always make sure the coaches are watching the right player! Yes, you are a fantastic athlete with incredible skills, but which one are you? Especially in the sport of Hockey or Lacrosse; no one knows who anyone is unless it is their very own child – and half the time even they cannot figure it out. Please do let the coach know at the beginning of the video – and clips within the video – what or who he/she is supposed to be looking at. Don’t leave him blindly guessing at whom he/she wants to recruit. You never know, maybe you can leave out who you are and let the coach end up recruiting your teammate instead of you. Your decision.”

Lastly, on the topic of highlight tapes, don’t use music with swear words. No coach likes to hear every colorful words while you attack your warm-up shots. Go figure.

One final thought about a “do” that Coach Bennett touched on. “Please do be accountable. This falls under the topic of being recruited…recruiting is a two-way street. Call and email back if contacted.” There seems to be no leeway on this topic. When you text someone with pertinent information, do you not want a response back? If done correctly, it is another characteristic that would seem to go a long way in the coaches book. Do be accountable.”

You have the right personality, you are on the radar, you have contacted them correctly, and you are doing all the “do’s” and never the “don’ts.” You are officially an incoming freshman. Surreal right? Well, you still have work to do. “The expectations are to be consistent with each area. It starts with school…no shortcuts, comes to the rink with a free mind knowing you put the work in the classroom. The rest will fall into place.” Bennett does not mess around when it comes to his expectations. Every player he recruits he expects 100% effort in the classroom, weight room, and on the ice, in that order. When 100% effort is given, there would be no reason for failure elsewhere.

Say you had all of this stuff under your belt, you read all the LRT Sports blogs, you tried your hardest, but you came up short. Your dream school did not want you. There still is a place for you Bennett says, “College rosters are filled with student-athletes that were not chosen by their number one school. Like life…move on as quickly as possible.” And that is that.

Lastly, let us say you are verbally committed – not official – life is great, and you met all the expectations that the coach is asking for. Don’t let social media ruin that for you. “Limit your social media time and look for positive sites. Ask yourself – is social media helping me get to where I want to go?” This question and thought process recommended by Bennett can save you immense pain. People have gotten lifetime opportunities taken from them just because they clicked a button or liked a page.

Don’t let that be you.