Looking Forward: Softball In-Season Recruitment
For most university coaches, recruitment is a yearlong process. Shelly Hoerner, Appalachian’s new head softball coach is no stranger to the never ending process. As the head coach and her team practice after their first win of the season against Morehead State, recruitment is still a priority on Hoerner’s mind.
While still trying to optimize performance during the deason, Hoerner and her staff are looking to finish filling in the remaining spots within their 2019 class as well as their 2020 and 2021 rosters.
However, overall the new head coach is looking to increase speed and effectiveness in all areas from the infield to the outfield.
“This is a new season for me and we have to see how this season plays out in order to see where we need to fill our voids,” Hoerner said.
Currently, Hoerner believes that building relationships with current and future players will be the determining factor contributing to the team’s success. “You’ve got to find the right fit; with App State softball, with our staff, for our program,” Hoerner said “Finding the right players who have the same vision as what we have here now and for what we want to build is really critical.”
An obstacle that Hoerner is expecting to encounter throughout her career at Appalachian is the recruitment budget that the school provides.
“It’s always a challenge,” Hoerner said “We have to be creative, we may not be able to go everywhere that a power that a power five does while recruiting. We also have to fundraise to be able to get where we want to be in order to compete with other programs.”
Hired in June of 2017, Hoerner comes to Appalachian with over twenty years of coaching and playing experience. When she first started, the process of recruitment started much later than later than it does today. Hoerner sees the changing patterns that student athletes have to conform to lest they stand the chance of being left behind.
“Twenty years ago you recruited high school seniors,” Hoerner said. She describes that before students were starting the recruitment process in 6th and 7th grade, recruits took official visits to universities in their last year of high school. However, in order to become more competitive, Hoerner has observed that students are committing to universities in middle school.
“Having such young athletes having to make a decision like that at that age, I feel is not very healthy. Our career is based on whether a 6th, 7th, 8th grader can perform five years from the time they are recruited,” Hoerner said.
Student athletes Julianna Roupas and Baylee Morton shed light on their experiences of being recruited at the collegiate level.
“We both started emailing coaches our freshman year or 8th grade of middle school,” Roupas said.
Students with the prospect to advance to college leveled sports go through the process of emailing coaches about the tournaments they go to in order to showcase their talent. Morton describes that a prospect camp is an increasingly important and intensive experience for most athletes.
“Prospect camps are a big deal now. The coaches from different universities all watch with their clipboards. It’s all really intimidating,” Morton said.
Looking forward to the future, Coach Hoerner is working to change the mindset of her team and her staff. “We are challenging what the expectation is here,” Hoerner said,” if something goes wrong, raise the standard for the person standing next to you.”