A legend within the Ivy League, Roger Reina is the Head Wrestling Coach at the University of Pennsylvania. Along with being the winningest coach in Penn wrestling history, Reina has led the program to eight Ivy League Championships, four EIWA Championships, and multiple top ten and top twenty NCAA finishes. He has also coached and produced two NCAA Individual Champions and an Olympic Gold Medalist. LRT Sports had the opportunity to talk with Coach Reina and gain insight into what he looks for during the recruiting process and how to navigate it successfully.
To build a successful program and create a winning culture, Reina has always looks for certain qualities in his recruits. “Character is the first thing we look for,” says Reina, “if the character isn’t there, most likely it isn’t going to work out.” Good character to Reina means being respectful, always putting in maximum effort, having intensity, and being humble. In addition, Reina expects his wrestlers to be willing to “push themselves outside of their comfort zone and be fully committed to their team”. Reina sets the expectation that his athletes need to be able to “perform both within the classroom and on the wrestling mat”. He believes that this combination of qualities are key to success in both areas.
Reina also stresses the importance of getting a coach’s attention and making the first contact. He discusses how competing and placing at national competitions can get you on a coach’s radar, but he also highly recommends that athletes contact coaches at the “beginning of their junior year of high school”. These emails should include your notable results, GPA, and ACT or SAT scores. If you include a highlight tape, Reina says that wrestling coaches prefer to receive videos of full matches. Reina also stresses the importance of being proactive during your recruitment. According to him, “over-communication is not possible,” so do not be afraid to be persistent and continually reach out to coaches after initial contact is made.
Furthermore, during recruitment Reina emphasizes the impact that social media can have. Reina believes that a recruit’s social media can be “a reflection of their character”, so he uses it as a tool when evaluating the recruit. His advice for athletes regarding social media is, “don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandma seeing.” Along those lines, Renia advises not to post about every scholarship offer you receive either and not to use profanity. Reina wants athletes who are “humble, respectful, and conduct themselves with class both in-person and online”.
Lastly, Reina highlights about carefully choosing the programs you are trying to be recruited by. He suggests that athletes only reach out to coaches that they are interested in playing for. Do not try getting recruited by a school for any reason other than that you are interested in going there. Reina believes that this will make you more excited about your recruitment and able to focus your attention on your favorite schools. Additionally, if you are approached by a program that you are not interested in, be transparent about how you feel. By doing this, you will avoid wasting that program’s time and be able to utilize your own better.
Coach Reina provided a lot of useful advice in his interview. To sum it up, being successfully recruited goes far beyond your abilities as an athlete. Coaches like Roger Reina place a lot of value on how a person conducts themselves both in life and during their recruitment. They look for recruits with good character, who are unafraid to approach coaches and are straightforward. Have fun as you go through your recruitment and keep in mind Reina’s advice as you navigate the process.
Edited by Elisabeth French
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