Friday, June 24, 2011
Lipscomb volleyball Coach Brandon Rosenthal just got back to Nashville from a recent trip to Orlando and by Monday he’ll be in Atlanta.
Such is the life of a college volleyball recruiter.
“It really is a grind,” Rosenthal said. “It starts in January and good recruiters are pretty much on the road every weekend through the end of June.”
Much of the recruiting in the sport, with its recruiting period that spans considerably further across the calendar than most others at the college level, takes place in massive convention center complexes. The live action at these high school-age events can be surreal and intimidating when a coach first starts scouting for talent, Rosenthal said, as he is reminded by his upcoming trip of his first-ever recruiting trip, also in Atlanta.
The experience, he said, was shocking.
“I remember walking down the elevators and I had no idea what I was going into,” Rosenthal, now heading into his ninth year as Lipscomb's coach. “The sound alone is something amazing and a little terrifying at first. It was at the Georgia World Congress Center and there were games going on simultaneously on 127 different courts.
“It’s not the same as other sports. That type of recruiting is unique to volleyball. It really catches people by surprise.”
The sheer number of courts at his first event, he would come to find, is not really that unusual. Similar events throughout the country, Rosenthal said, often have between 90 and 100 courts.
Beyond the spectacle of the recruiting events, though, it is the months of constant travel that can be most grueling. Especially for those like Rosenthal, who have a wife and two kids at home.
“It’s a solid six months,” Rosenthal said. “You go through a lot of different weather from Chicago in January to Orlando in June. Life on planes and in hotels might seem glamorous to some people, but it gets old.
“My wife’s great with understanding its part of the job, though. I want to be home, but recruiting is probably the most important thing we do as far as growing the program. You don’t have to go recruit, but sooner or later that model would catch up to you.”
However, the hard work on the recruiting trail of Rosenthal, as well as assistant Coach Samantha Sullivan, have been paying big dividends for the Lady Bisons on the volleyball court as the team has advanced to the NCAA Tournament three of the last four years.
Much like in other recent years, things seem to be going well for Rosenthal and Sullivan on the recruiting trail so far this year as they wind down there busy recruiting season.
“I feel like things are really going well for us,” Rosenthal said. “There was a website I saw recently recognizing our recruiting class, but at the end of the day the proof is in the pudding and will have to be proven on the court. But I do think what we’re doing is working.”
While Rosenthal’s travel for volleyball is nationwide, some of it at least is not too far away. He said that nearby Louisville, Ky. produces a number of good prospects every year. Sometimes, though he will travel to the West Coast and over the course of the year that sort of mileage can take its toll.
There was, of course, the time he nearly went to Dallas from Kansas City by mistake, rather than heading home to Nashville. He had just left from a recruiting trip to Dallas earlier that day.
“I handed the guy the ticket and I was getting on the wrong plane,” Rosenthal said. “I only got halfway down before they realized I was boarding the wrong flight. I was just trying to get home.”
Despite the obvious obstacles of recruiting, at least, Rosenthal said, convincing recruits to choose Lipscomb is not a tough sell, which makes things easier.
“Nashville’s an easy city to recruit to,” he said. “We can go national and have success. We’re going to go where the players are.”
And just because volleyball recruiting can be challenging, doesn’t mean Rosenthal, and coaches like him, don’t have plenty of motivation to keep going.
Said Rosenthal, “We’re always out there trying to find that next-level kid.”