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May 7, 2021

What Women’s Ice Hockey Coaches and Pros Have to Say About the Recruiting Process

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Given the differing coach perspectives and expectations across all Division I women’s hockey teams, LRT Sports set out to piece together a holistic analysis of recruiting. Below are a number of different coach insights regarding some of the most commonly asked recruiting questions.

The coaches that have been interviewed are some of the best in the country. Their advice can help you to carve a path to play at the collegiate level. 

LRT Sports: What age do you start the recruiting process?

Jess Koizumi (University of Vermont)

“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.”

Pro Player Savannah Harmon (former player at Clarkson University)

“An athlete can get on a coaches’ radar by playing its role to the best of its abilities. Focus on team success, and personal success will come around. On the more technical side, athletes can reach out to coaches/teams of their interests to introduce themselves and initiate conversation. This can go a long way.”

Bob Deraney (Providence College) 

“15, grade 10, July after Freshman year, and by phone.”

LRT Sports: What are some important qualities you look for in a student-athlete?

Jess Koizumi (University of Vermont)

“Character. Are they an all-around good person for our locker room? Potential. Do they have the potential to develop? Do they have a high ceiling, or will they plateau? Work ethic. Will they help players around them get better by their own personal work ethic? Academics. Are they a good student that will help our team GPA as well as set a good example for the rest of the team? Personality. Are they easy to communicate with? Are they coachable?” 

Pro Player Savannah Harmon (former player at Clarkson University)

“I would recommend being positive at all times about current/past teammates and coaches. This shows you’re a good teammate”

Bob Deraney (Providence College) 

Passion, confidence, intelligence, character, and enthusiasm.

LRT Sports: Is social media an important aspect of recruiting? What advice do you have for student-athletes regarding their online presence?

Jess Koizumi (University of Vermont)

“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.”

Bob Deraney (Providence College) 

“Social media is very important when you want to find out what a student-athlete is really like. It can help or hurt their recruitment. Be smart on social media because you never know who is watching it.”

Players from the Yale Hockey Team

“Almost every college program and coach in the country now has some social media account and uses it while scouting potential recruits. While social media can improve your ability to attract attention when used properly, it also can hurt your image. Never post anything that could make a coach call into question your character or priorities – as these are two essential factors that coaches look at when recruiting future players.”

LRT Sports: What is the best piece of advice that you can offer an athlete who is looking to play at the next level?

Pro Player Savannah Harmon (former player at Clarkson University)

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about focusing on day to day activities. The biggest things that you can control are your work ethic and your attitude.”

Pro Player Kelly Pannek (former player at University of Minnesota)

“Always remember why you love to play. I’m a firm believer that you’re your best when you love what you do and if you love what you do, you’ll want to be better at it. That’s always been me. I’ve always been someone who has been told to try hard, try hard to be a hockey player, or try hard to get better. No one has ever had to say you should probably go workout more or work on your skills more. It’s something I want to do because I want to be the best at what I’m doing. I think that’s the key. In Minnesota, there are so many girls who want to play Division I, but sometimes it’s hard to know if it’s them that want to play Division I or if it’s something people expect of them. You can tell the ones who really love it at a young age and they genuinely just want to keep going. That’s when you’ll be your best and your happiest.”

LRT Sports: If you could provide student-athletes looking to be recruited with one piece of advice, what would it be?

Jess Koizumi (University of Vermont)

“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.”

Pro Player Rebecca Russo (former player at Boston University)

“My advice would be to take it all in and to keep all your options open.  You might have a dream of where you want to go as a little girl, but as you get older, things change, and your mind might change when you step foot on a campus.  It is an exciting time of someone’s life so do as many tours as you can, meet as many people as you can, and you will know right away which school the perfect fit is.”

Bob Deraney (Providence College) 

“Be proactive, don’t wait for coaches to come to you to take control of your recruiting process. Don’t break the recruiting rules, follow them. Be proactive with the schools you are most interested in. Do not hope they come to you, you must engage them.”

Players from the Yale Hockey Team

“Making the decision about where you want to attend college can seem impossible, but it is YOUR decision. Don’t follow friends, try to do what makes your parents happiest or be forced into an early commitment by a coach. In the end, you are the only person who will live with your selection every day for the next four to five years. The college recruiting process is a crazy, once-in-a-lifetime experience. At the end of the day, I know from personal experience that most players tend to play their best hockey when they are simply enjoying the game. And that’s what hockey is all about anyways!”

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