Administrative Executive Editor
In the natural order of college sports, seniors graduate and the new recruits come in to fill the empty spaces on the roster, and Keene State College is no different. As the college’s academic year is ending, all KSC sports are heavily involved in recruiting.
“Recruiting is a lot bigger than most people think,” KSC Women’s Soccer Head Coach Denise Lyons said. “There’s a misconception that DIII schools just take the kids who show up to play.”
It’s not unusual for players to be attracted to a school that is doing well, but it’s reaching out to the right players that make a good recruiting class.
“Just this year, I had 82 players who wanted to come play here,” Lyons said, “And it’s great to have that kind of interest, but then you have to think how to narrow that down to your top 12.”
The fall season sports are putting the finishing touches on their recruiting class, while the spring sports are still looking for those late commits and transfers. KSC Field Hockey Head Coach Amy Watson said recruiting is a full-time activity. Watson said her recruiting class for next season is complete, but she’s now talking to high school students she’s looking to recruit for next year.
“They look good, there’s a few I’m excited about,” Watson said, “But we’re losing a lot, we’re losing seven seniors.”
Being a Division III school, KSC doesn’t have the budget to fly coaches all over the country to recruit athletes, so they typically stick to the northeast.
“We usually stick to New England and New York, but I’d like to expand that,” Watson said. Watson explained she typically looks for the most athletic and skilled athletes she can find regardless of position.
“We may have a girl who played midfield in high school, but we need a back, so we’ll play her at back,” Watson said. “We do a lot more of the position-specific training once they get to college.”
In addition to traditional incoming freshman recruits, transfer students can be a big part of restocking a roster in the off-season.
“What we have found is that women athletes go to a school, and even if the program isn’t what they expected, they stay there,” Watson said. She continued to explain that while the field hockey program has had some very good transfer students in the past, where they have one transfer, other sports have many more.
The fall sports may be set with their recruits, but the rest of the seasons are still in flux.
KSC Men’s Basketball Coach Rob Colbert said while the deadline for freshmen students to sign up for the fall semester was May 1, there may still be some late recruits that could come in within the next month.
“I have six recruits committed, but the proof is in the pudding when they send in the deposit,” Colbert said.
Colbert stated he looks to recruit based on his team’s needs. “We definitely needed a big post and a point, and players who can stick it,” Colbert said. “Since D’Amores left we lost that, so we need to get some kids who can stick it.”
Colbert explained junior Ryan Martin is currently the only point guard on the team, and ideally he’d like to move Martin to the other guard position and bring in multiple point guards.
“We definitely have needs,” Colbert said. “We need guys to come in to be shooters, give us some bulk inside, so there’s a lot of opportunity for players.” The men’s basketball team is one that has benefitted greatly from transfer students in the recent past with Martin transferring from the University of Maine, among others on its current roster.
Colbert said the transfer players the college usually gets are players who had a lot of interest in coming to KSC during the recruiting process, but end up choosing to go somewhere else. He continued to elaborate once the player decides he wants to leave wherever he’s at, he may reach back out to Keene State College about transferring in. The strategy for recruiting is much different for spring sports than the other seasons, because it is possible for student to transfer halfway through the year.
KSC Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Mark Theriault said he’s only around 60 percent done with his recruiting this year, and will only be 85 percent done by the time the fall semester begins.
“It’s a solid class,” Theriault said. “We keep bringing in the best kids we can find.” Theriault said he does most of his recruiting during the summer and fall, because of how difficult it gets to visit recruits while the team is in season.
“It can be a lot,” Theriault said. “Between preparation for teams, training and your own team maintenance, it’s hard to go see players and organize official visits.”
Theriault explained instead of going after traditional freshmen recruits, the team has a lot of transfers. Theriault said most of the transfers are students who want to try to play at the Division I level, but after a year decide to transfer out.
“We don’t compete with D I schools for recruits,” Theriualt said. “When you have programs like John Hopkins who bring in 16 athletes with partial scholarships, which sounds sexier than financial aid.” He continued, “But say you’re an attacker and you’re tenth on the depth chart, that means no playing time, and when the next class comes in and some of those kids surpass you, you’ll never see the field.”
Theriault said the team likes to have transfers come in and be the kind of players that can provide an instant impact to the team. Once a program establishes itself, it can benefit the recruiting process by increasing the amount of interest the college receives from the students.
“Success breeds success,” Theriault said.
Athletes are naturally pulled to programs that are experiencing success and can provide a winning environment for its players. In many cases athletes are excited to be able to go somewhere where they can train a standout athlete already established at a college. The Owls’ blossoming swimming program is an example of this. The program is still young and not as well known as some of KSC’s other athletic programs, but is quickly growing in reputation.
KSC Swimming and Diving Head Coach Jack Fabian said the recent success has turned the heads of a lot of recruits in the area. He said a lot of athletes want to come to KSC for an opportunity to train with multiple All-American swimmer, Drew Ledwith.
“It’s not just Drew, but our relay team impressed a lot of people as well,” Fabian said. In addition, Fabian noted the women’s team had a great recruiting year as well. “This year was a big jump for the team,” Fabian said.
“As the team’s gotten better the recruiting process has gotten much more involved,” Fabian said. “Now we’re tracking swimmers, going to watch them compete, and now we’re going after some big fish.”
All the KSC coaches expressed recruiting is a continuous activity, and as soon as a recruit class is locked down, the process is already been restarted for the next year’s class.
It is the never-ending cycle of college sports that keeps teams fresh and evolving, and keeps coaches working around the clock to put the best team on the field that they can piece together.
Ryan Glavey can be contacted at