Sports recruiting at Lake Land College


LLC’s volleyball team poses for an “end of season” photo. Photo via LLC.

Darrius Frazier, Archivist

Sports recruiting has changed over the past ten years, mainly due to technology. Former baseball coach and current Athletic Director, Bill Jackson, along with other coaches on campus can attest to that. As noted, each individual head coach will have their own philosophy of who to recruit and who to choose as their assistants.


Jackson has been the Athletic Director on campus since Jan. 2014, when he was also the Baseball Manager. In 2018, Jackson decided to focus on being the athletic director. In regards to filling out coaching vacancies, Jackson mentioned, “We always have to have a short list of who we have our eye on and who we are watching that would be good for us from an institutional standpoint. We are constantly evaluating coaches that come in that are coaching against us. Right now, we have five very capable head coaches. We look for someone who has high character leading our student athletes in their program.”He allows the head coaches to choose their assistants. He stated that the coaches must feel comfortable with whom they work with.


Jackson looks for many qualities while recruiting players. He stated that, “I evaluate guys in the area that can do those things and fit the mold of the program. Once we recruited heavily from our district, we started to expand further out from our district. We recruited from the state, then the Midwest. We did that for the past nineteen years.” He noted that the current Baseball Manager, Julio Godinez, “runs a physical offense. He wants guys that can drive the ball gap to gap and run the ball out of the ballpark. He is a bit more balanced. He wants guys that are well-balanced. He wants guys that have power and can run.”


Women’s Basketball Head Coach, Doug Johnson, who is entering his twenty-fourth year on campus, clarified in regards to recruiting, “Recruiting has changed over the past ten years. It transitioned from watching a player play at their high school and they will come visit campus, you stay in touch with them. Now, everything is social media based, using texting, less verbal conversations and now, you have more kids play on the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) clubs and less with their high school teams.” He stated that recruiting changed a lot due to technology. Johnson commented that “Before you can find a diamond in the rough and build him into a better player. Now, there is no diamond in the rough since there is video of the player somewhere. It is very accessible to coaches everywhere to find out about the player.”


Current Softball Coach, Gregory Nelson, who is entering his thirteenth year on Lake Land’s campus, explained  that the way he recruits is, “We enter each recruiting opportunity with a plan. Before attending a tournament, we contact coaches in order to hear their recommendations and to help build rapport. We believe the best recruiters have a wide network of people they trust to keep them informed of top talent. Using a combination of coach recommendations, personal correspondence with athletes, and my knowledge of the relative competitiveness of certain teams, we will construct a schedule for which games and pregame warm ups we should be attending at a certain time. Attempting to discover talent without a plan is both a waste of time and of the recruiting budget. Besides tournaments, we use our own camps as a huge recruiting opportunity as well.”


Men’s Basketball Coach, Julian Larry, who is entering his third year as head coach, remarked, “Recruiting has changed with transfer portal two years ago with the Covid-19 epidemic so students can transfer to another school without any issues and a chance to play. So with that being said, it opened the door for many high school better players that would not have been recruited in Division I.”


Volleyball Coach, Ashli Wicker, who has just completed her eighth season on campus, when hypothetically looking for new recruits, “I evaluate our past season and each individual on our roster, if we are not national champions, if we are not regional champions, something did not work. Every coach wants to finish his or her season with a win. A majority of the coaches will not have that opportunity. Every coach want to finish better than the previous year. I like all-around, multi-talented athletes, not just a volleyball player. Getting a kid that is buying into what you are saying and is high academic as well.” 


Winkler added, “I want a kid that wants to come to Lake Land, not someone who would say that it is easy for them based on it being close to home or far enough from home. I want my players to be proud of wearing Lake Land gear. That goes into buying into the program. We have a short two years to figure it out. Also, they need to want to get better, spending time outside the volleyball court.”


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