Miranda Smith, Campus Carrier Asst. Sports Editor
Recruiting at the collegiate level is often seen as a coach’s responsibility. However, current student-athletes have an important job of assimilating potential players into the culture and dynamic of their future team.
The NCAA Division III philosophy statements read “colleges and universities in Division III place highest priority on the overall quality of the educational experience on the successful completion of all students’ academic programs. They seek to establish and maintain an environment in which a student-athlete’s activities are conducted as an integral part of the student athlete’s educational experience, and in which coaches play a significant role as educators. They also seek to establish and maintain an environment that values cultural diversity and gender equality among their student-athletes and athletics staff.”
Senior defensive back Justen Booket shared his experience as both host and recruit when being recruited to play football at Berry. Booket explained the process of being contacted by coach Nate Masters, who is now his position coach and defensive coordinator, but primarily a recruiter.
“It’s definitely a huge job, because when our coaches recruit guys, they expect us to make sure they learn and know the standard here that has been set for the program,” Booket said. “It’s important that recruits know that everything that they do and every decision that they make in coming to Berry is that they’re not just representing themselves, but they’re representing Berry football as a whole. We not only have to teach the younger guys that, but show them how, too.”
With the recent success and the large size of the football program, Booket explained how it has been easier to recruit when the success attracts numerous potential candidates. He said that recruits will reject bigger schools to have more opportunity at Division III and be a part of the winning tradition set for the program. However, Division III does not offer athletic scholarships and has its primary focus on academic scholarships, which can make difficult to appeal to recruits.
The softball team has also had recent success with six straight Southern Athletic Association (SAA) Regular Season championships and four straight SAA tournament titles. The recruiting process gives recruits and the program confidence in finding potential teammates for the future.
Senior utility player Katlin Seger gave her take on the importance on the role of host and representatives of the program to show what the program stands for and how to keep the legacy going after graduation. Seger shared how recruiting for visits and overnight stays can be fun for both the team and the recruits, because it gives the recruits a chance to learn about the team culture.
“It is important to find girls who will mesh with the culture of Berry and our program,” Seger said. “It is easy for us to see that when they visit the campus, and the upcoming seniors will help them understand what it’s really about to be a viking once they are here.”
Sophomore tennis player Clay Jones described his host experience and what he has learned from the upperclassmen. He said that it is important to learn the ropes and then pass the baton to the underclassmen when he’s an upperclassmen.
With the tennis program being a smaller team, Jones explained the importance of knowing if they’re a good fit for the team, and having to understand that with a smaller team, comes knowing each other very well and being a tight knit group.
“When recruiting someone, you always want to look for someone who is not just coming to Berry to play a sport, but someone who is excited about the Berry community,” Jones said. “Players who serve as hosts can identify this, by taking the recruit around not just Berry events, but also the city of Rome. When they visit, the most importance factor, besides explaining that academic come first, is if they are going to mesh with the team well.”