By Danielle Nelson
*This article is posted on The Temple News website.
More than one year after having their program reinstated, the Owls understand how important it is to create a buzz about their presence on boathouse row.
This offseason, members of the coaching staff flocked to local high school regattas, including the Scholastic Rowing Association of America Regatta, where teams from around the country competed against each other on the Cooper River in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
The purpose of these visits was to attract rising seniors to the Owl’s first biannual open house event on campus on June 19.
“Talking to different coaches about Temple and what is coming up casually made a lot of different coaches intrigued having their athletes possibly represent Temple,” assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Alyssa O’Donnell said. “We talked to high school coaches, we gave them invitations to give for their athletes, we e-mailed athletes, put it on [Owlsports.com], we put it on Twitter, we put it on Instagram – anyway we can promote the event and it worked out really well.”
The high school athletes who attended the open house came from across the region, ranging from as far north as Boston, Massachusetts and as far west as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
During their one day tour, the Class of 2016 prospects talked with the coaching staff and athletic trainers, visited the athletic facilities — such as the Resnick Academic Support Center, the varsity weight room, the team’s locker room and the ergometer room.
The prospective rowers also viewed many of the academic facilities on Main Campus. They received admission information and spent time with some of the current rowers on the team at a luncheon in the Morgan Hall Food Court.
“Rather than meeting with future recruits one-on-one and spending hours throughout the summer individually, we have a big visit day on [June 19] and give them all the information they need in one sitting,” coach Rebecca Grzybowski said. “So its efficient for us, its great for the recruits because they get to meet the team, talk to other recruits and parents. So it’s a really good high energy day, and we get to share all about Temple rowing.”
Sophomore Lisa Kennedy was one of a handful of rowers on the team who came out to interact with some of the recruits and their parents. The walk-on from Ambler, Pennsylvania said she spoke to a couple of the athletes and their parents about balancing school with athletics.
“It was really nice to talk to athletes who have been rowing for three or four years and give them advice about college and say it’s really manageable to be a Division I athlete and a full-time student taking 17 or 18 credits,” Kennedy said. “But you really have to work on time management and be productive.”
The coaching staff also had the opportunity to gauge these athletes by assessing one of the most pivotal parts of rowing – their erg scores.
Erg scores are numbers used to measure a rower’s endurance level and their mental strength during a course of rowing a few thousand meters. An erg score also tells how fast rowers can go on the water, which gives coaches an idea of how to group each rower in the different boats. Rowers with similar erg scores generally are placed in the same boat.
Along with erg scores, the coaches consider how long the athletes have been rowing, what type of program they have been rowing for and the progress they have made throughout their high school career, all by remaining in communication with their high school coaches.
If Grzybowski and her staff are interested in recruiting these athletes, an invitation to visit in the fall is extended.
“We then have a pretty significant interaction over the course of a few days,” Grzybowski said. “We meet the team, we get feedback from the current team to see if they will be a great fit, do they understand what we’re trying to build here and then we go from there.”
Although it has been well over a year since the program was cut and then reinstated, Grzybowski said the athletic cuts had no impact on the team’s recruiting efforts this summer. With three recruits coming in this fall Grzybowski said she has made only one change to improve their recruits this summer.
“We hired Alyssa last summer [because] we did not have the resources in place last summer to organize a large on campus recruiting event (Open House) for experienced high school rowers,” Grzybowski noted. “Having Alyssa here for a full year to get a handle on the high school rowing landscape has allowed us to significantly increase our recruiting presence and allows us to maximize an event such as the Open House.”
Now the Owls look forward to their second open house event on Aug.14.
“We are just excited to do it again,” Grzybowski said. “We have done it once and the second time is always better. Thinking of just having more athletes, more parents, more involvement, the energy will be great.”
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