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davecloud

Let's Hear Your Best Recruiting Moves!

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A constant recruiting effort benefits our program directly by making forfeits less likely, giving us future wrestlers in training and having larger crowds. But perhaps most importantly, if you believe in what wrestling stands for, why wouldn't you want the maximum number of students to benefit from being a part of the sport? You never know where or how someone may benefit the sport. A former wrestler of ours, who never made the varsity, became the coach of a state championship middle school team in Illinois. He loves the sport and passes on the lessons he learned as a wrestler to his wrestlers. I couldn't be prouder of him. 

With that being said, I would like to hear what coaches are having success with in recruiting kids into their programs. I have listed three we do to start the conversation.

1) After 30 years of coaching high school football, and recruiting like mad the whole time, I moved to our middle school football program three years ago. One of my assistant coaches there is on my middle school wrestling coaching staff. We use every opportunity to recruit kids into the program. A player that I started recruiting as a seventh grader finally went out for the team as an eighth grader. He fell in love with the sport and this year as a freshman went 10-5 as a varsity fill-in, earned a letter and established himself as a very promising member of the lineup for next season.

2) I work to have a good relationship with our high school and middle school basketball coaches. We've had a few kids who got cut in high school come out. Watch out for those kids who quit basketball after their freshman year! We got a heavyweight who played basketball as a freshman but didn't go out as a sophomore. He came out for wrestling knowing almost nothing about wrestling but was a state qualifier as a junior and placed sixth as a senior. We had another heavyweight who came out after quitting basketball as a freshman (I spoke to the basketball coach first to make sure it was not going to be a problem). He was a Regional champion and 2X Semi-State qualifier. I speak to the boys middle school coach each year and ask him to refer the boys who get cut to wrestling. We also encourage the middle school basketball players to come out for wrestling for the last month or so of the wrestling season after basketball is over. We got a fifth place 215 lb.state placer that way when he chose to wrestle instead of play basketball in high school.

3) Do something special for a match. Last season we partnered with Chad Masters to televise our match with the Marauders. Josh Holden of Greenfield and Courtney Duncan of Frankton graciously agreed to do the play-by-play and color (the only objection the TV station offered when I asked them was that they didn't have anyone who knew wrestling to call the match) for the broadcast. We had the best home dual meet crowd ever. Next season Coach Holden and I are broadcasting our dual meet from Hoosier Gym. I have seen other schools do the match on a theater stage (great job Floyd Central!). Randy Qualitza did a varsity match before a varsity basketball game decades ago. Be creative. Could it flop? Sure. Who cares. Let your kids know you are trying things to make your meets an event.

It will always be a slog for most programs to get kids in large numbers in but I believe it is worth it. What works for you?

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The main thing I did when first took over at MV was to recruit heavily from the football team, I was there anyway. Then would just stand in the halls and talk to any kid I could and tell them how wrestling could benefit them. I remember seeing a young man running down the hallway, he looked to be around 100lbs and we needed a 106. He was a soccer player, so told him he could spend his winter upstairs with us. He has told us coaches that he is more aggressive on the soccer field and has much more confidence in life. 

Dave setting up the our dual to be televised has been a huge bonus. We have had lots of kids tell us how cool that was and asked if we would be doing it again. I am hoping to get Dave and PH back on the screen this coming year, and possibly another dual when we get our schedule finalized. (We need a couple duals if anybody is interested). We have discussed trying to use the auditorium, football field (weather permitting), the schools new Performance enhancement center basically anything to create interest. Randal Hayes has came up with great intro music for our duals that the kids love. We have thrown free t-shirts into the crowd just to fill as many seats as possible. As Dave said, anything to let your kids know that you are putting in the effort to make this as fun as possible.

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I love all the suggestions and cool fun stuff added to wrestling.. Televising the meets is great... anything that can grow the sport i'm in favor of...Football teams are great places to get Athletic big men to fill voids many schools have.. also like stated before there's kids of all sizes playing different sports that can benefit from wrestling.. Wrestling is a awesome sport and everybody can benefit from trying wrestling.. Especially when you have passionate Leaders like Dave kicking these kids his knowledge and love. 

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Those are some excellent ideas to enhance both numbers of kids and the overall quality of experience they have with the sport. 

Here are a couple of thoughts I'd add:

The first idea would be indirect recruitment via increased interest in the meets. Reach out to non-sports departments like the band director, art teacher, drama/theatre club, and cheer coach (I know this is technically a sport). Getting the pep band to perform at matches adds energy and excitement as well as putting additional parents and friends in the stands. Drama club for lightning up the mat, creating showy entrances and adding additional flair, making the meets fun events. Those kids would have parents and friends too. Art teacher for potentially making a class project of creating promotional posters for individual home meets. They could be like WWE or Concert posters or whatever the kids come up with. The art kid would suddenly have an interest in attending an event they did the promo poster for and there folks would too.

All are low to no cost options to utilize the resources available, and give kids opportunities to apply their skills doing what they enjoy in a practical environment. All this creates ownership in the wrestling program from the various groups that are contributing in their way to grand event. The greater interest in the meets will make it a lot easier to recruit kids out for the team.

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17 hours ago, Westforkwhite said:

Those are some excellent ideas to enhance both numbers of kids and the overall quality of experience they have with the sport. 

Here are a couple of thoughts I'd add:

The first idea would be indirect recruitment via increased interest in the meets. Reach out to non-sports departments like the band director, art teacher, drama/theatre club, and cheer coach (I know this is technically a sport). Getting the pep band to perform at matches adds energy and excitement as well as putting additional parents and friends in the stands. Drama club for lightning up the mat, creating showy entrances and adding additional flair, making the meets fun events. Those kids would have parents and friends too. Art teacher for potentially making a class project of creating promotional posters for individual home meets. They could be like WWE or Concert posters or whatever the kids come up with. The art kid would suddenly have an interest in attending an event they did the promo poster for and there folks would too.

All are low to no cost options to utilize the resources available, and give kids opportunities to apply their skills doing what they enjoy in a practical environment. All this creates ownership in the wrestling program from the various groups that are contributing in their way to grand event. The greater interest in the meets will make it a lot easier to recruit kids out for the team.

bravo

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On ‎3‎/‎25‎/‎2019 at 8:54 AM, Coach Masters said:

The main thing I did when first took over at MV was to recruit heavily from the football team, I was there anyway. Then would just stand in the halls and talk to any kid I could and tell them how wrestling could benefit them. I remember seeing a young man running down the hallway, he looked to be around 100lbs and we needed a 106. He was a soccer player, so told him he could spend his winter upstairs with us. He has told us coaches that he is more aggressive on the soccer field and has much more confidence in life. 

Dave setting up the our dual to be televised has been a huge bonus. We have had lots of kids tell us how cool that was and asked if we would be doing it again. I am hoping to get Dave and PH back on the screen this coming year, and possibly another dual when we get our schedule finalized. (We need a couple duals if anybody is interested). We have discussed trying to use the auditorium, football field (weather permitting), the schools new Performance enhancement center basically anything to create interest. Randal Hayes has came up with great intro music for our duals that the kids love. We have thrown free t-shirts into the crowd just to fill as many seats as possible. As Dave said, anything to let your kids know that you are putting in the effort to make this as fun as possible.

I recall going to a Mt. Vernon Jr. High dual (it was either 4 or 5 years ago).  My first thought was where the heck is this school in the middle of nowhere, and then it quickly became "how are all of these kids so damn good"?     While our kids were goofing off on the mat during warm ups, all of a sudden the lights dimmed and they played "My House" by Flo Rida overhead, and the MV kids came out circling our boys on the mat.   Needless to say I was thoroughly impressed with the entire program, even if we got our tail handed to us.     

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