Describe the qualities that your program is looking for in a potential student-athlete?
Talent/Potential – The first thing we look for is the athletic talent to be successful at the Division I level. Part of evaluating talent is determining a prospect’s potential. The training age (how long the athlete has been in the sport), the quality of high school coaching they are receiving, the amount of exposure they have had to weight training, and how they look competing all contribute to how we determine the level of potential a prospect has.
Strong Work Ethic – We are looking for prospects who are willing to roll up their sleeves and put in the work in the classroom and on the track to get better. We gather this information by speaking with high school coaches, picking up on things while talking with prospect, and watching their demeanor at competitions.
Positive Attitude – We are looking for prospects who are going to “Add” and “Multiply” to our culture and program. Attitudes are contagious, and we seek positive attitudes so the experience we provide will be enjoyable. If we detect a prospect has a negative attitude, we will cut ties right away. We do not want anybody who is going to “Subtract” or “Divide” from what we are trying to build.
Could you give us an example of a current or former player who exceeded your expectations, highlighting the reasons that player excelled?
5 years ago I had a walk-on male long jumper try out for the team. He experienced some success in high school, but nothing that would have shown “elite” level. He jumped in the high 22’s for long jump and qualified for our conference championship but did not score. His sophomore year he quit track for family reasons. The summer heading into his junior year, we approached him to try out again. He was then in a place where he was ready to commit back to track and field. He lifted hard that summer and took care of all the little things at practice. He ended up winning the conference championship and making it to the 1st Round of NCAA. He did not perform well at his 1st NCAA, and that lit a fire within him to come back even better. His 4th year of school (3rd year of eligibility) he excelled even more. He won the conference championship in long jump again with a 25’ 8” jump, broke the university record, made it to 1st Round of NCAA’s again, made it to NCAA Finals earning 2nd team All-American, and participated at the USA Outdoor Championships.
His hard work in the weight room, his ability to have complete faith in the training provided to him, and his positivity all assisted in his ability to excel in long jump.