Rick Heller is the associate head coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes. Coach Heller lead the Hawkeyes to 204 victories which gives him an average of 34 wins per season — advancing to two NCAA Regionals and claiming the first Big Ten Tournament title in program history (Hawkeye Sports).
Heller helped to guide six All-Americans and at least one first-team All-Big Ten selection in five of his six seasons. The most in six years all-time Iowa has had an amazing 21 Major League Baseball Draft picks.
It does not end here for Coach Heller, his lead his team to a USA silver medal in the 2017 World University Games. They were the first Ameican team to win a medal in the University’s history.
LRT Sports: What is the most important quality you look for in a recruit?
If the player has the skill level to play for us, the most important quality is being a humble person. We look at a lot of traits, but I’ve never had a player that overachieved that wasn’t humble.
LRT Sports: How can a recruit get on your radar?
Perfect Game and PBR events. Coaches recommendations.
LRT Sports: When should an athlete contact you, what is the best way? (age, grade, time of year, email, phone, or other)
As soon as they want to get the process started. Email and video. Also, coming to one of our camps.
LRT Sports: What are your expectations for incoming players in the classroom, in the weight room, and on the field?
We set high expectations in all areas of a player’s life here at Iowa. We have a process-driven program where we focus on everything a player does every day. Classroom, community, nutrition, weight room, field. Graduating in four years is something we take seriously here and we do it at an elite level nationally.
LRT Sports: What are the do’s and don’ts of being recruited?
Do-Send information yourself, not your parents. Do communicate yourself, not your parents. Do take care of your own business, not your parents. Speak for yourself on visits, not your parents. Do hustle (play hard) on the field and be positive and upbeat when things go bad.
LRT Sports: What is the best advice you can offer a recruit?
Take care of your own business, play hard and bring great energy to the field every day. Those kids stand out even when things aren’t going well. At least in our program. We place a high value on being a great teammate and how a player handles adversity. There has to be talent, but a player with a little less talent and a great work ethic and attitude can separate himself this way. Train as efficiently as possible in the off season-Be as fast and as strong as you can be.
LRT Sports: What really jumps out to you when reviewing a recruit’s highlight tape?
We like simple with no music. Just the basic info we need. Some training swings and a few game swings. Some defense work both practice and game. Pitchers both bullpen and game from the front and side. If they have something that shows speed that is great as well (both running and throwing). No more than 3-4 minutes. No parents cheerleading.
LRT Sports: What are the main do’s and don’ts for a recruit’s highlight tape?
Just short clips of a few AB’s or all the pitches a pitcher throws. Add in some practice work as well.
LRT Sports: What advice do you have for recruits who get turned down by their dream schools? What are their options if they don’t gain the recruiting attention they desire?
My advice is to look for the programs who really want YOU. The coach that the recruit will play for is the most important factor in making a decision. Not the facilities, fancy gear or location. If the coach only cares about winning or himself and won’t stick with you when things go bad, the recruit will be miserable in two weeks and all the fancy stuff won’t matter. Look for coaches who have a track record of winning with player development. Stay away from programs that are “recruiting schools” They recruit the best player they can find and if that player doesn’t perform they cut them and find another talented player. This is what happens at a lot of “dream” schools. Playing at a lower level with the right coach and right program is more important than playing at a D1 school that you won’t play at or for a coach that isn’t a great fit. Again, above all else, play for a coach that will care about you as a person and be there for you 20 years after you graduate. This is the biggest mistake most families make. They usually pick the “shiniest toy” not the right fit for the right reason.
LRT Sports: How big a factor is social media when recruiting players? What advice do you have for athletes regarding social media? (Please explain)
It is big. We just had to call a recruit and tell them that if they didn’t stop doing stupid stuff on Twitter we were not going to recruit them. It happens all the time. Kids put stuff up on social media that causes us to not recruit them or drop them. There are lots of educational pieces online about what not to do. Most is common sense and help us realize the type of person the kid is. So when they post dumb or controversial stuff we know they won’t fit in here.
For more information about Iowa’s baseball program Hawkeyesports.com
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.