How student athletes are recruited
by: Leah Oathout/Production Manager
From the cornfields of central Illinois to the concrete streets of Chicago and beyond, Lake Land’s athletes are as diverse as the rest of the college. But how do these out-of-district, sometimes out-of-country, athletes get discovered by LLC’s coaches?
“[The coaches] are constantly networking,” athletic director Denny Throneburg says. “The number of hours that our coaches put in on recruiting would be mind boggling to the average person.”
As of Aug. 12, 29 athletes were from inside Lake Land’s district. Forty-six were from out-of-district, and nine student-athletes come from outside the country’s borders. This diversity makes the teams stronger both on and off the courts and fields.
“We work very closely with International Studies Programs.” Throneburg said. ISP is the department that handles all international transfers. This year, there are student-athletes from Brazil, Serbia, England, Canada, Austria and Venezuela.
In addition, each coach has a large network of associates and contacts to help them scout potential student-athletes.
Showcases are a common place to discover new talent and, according to Throneburg, each coach has a comfort zone in which he or she likes to recruit.
“We would like to have the best in-district talent we can,” Throneburg asserted, “and we work hard on that.”
However, being good at the sport does not necessarily mean an athlete will be recruited. Academics is actually the number one qualification, performance taking second fiddle. Third, the recruiting staff looks for individuals with good character.
“We’ve gotten to the point here at Lake Land, with the success we’ve had on the field and on the court, that we don’t just have to take anybody,” Throneburg said. He strongly believes that, when out and about, the “student-athletes represent us all.”
The scouting process begins early in a student-athlete’s carrier, usually sophomore year of high school. The coaches or their assistants and contacts will watch the player as he or she matures in the sport. Some are discovered via the questionnaire on LLC’s athletic page or through ISP in the case of international students. LLC coaches will then approach the prospective student’s coach and build a good working relationship. When the time comes for the student to pick a college, the coaches will approach them with a contract. Eventually, the student will come to campus and meet with the athletic director, Throneburg.
“[The sport] is the whole coach’s pitch,” Throneburg said. “My pitch is on the college as a whole…I try to meet with every recruit that comes on campus.”
The whole goal of LLC’s athletic department is to get student-athletes an excellent education while fostering their athletic ability. Since over 90 percent of student-athletes have graduated since Throneburg has been athletic director, the program seems to be doing well.