Playing the Field

Playing the Field

An explosion in the number of potential athletic recruits
has coaches searching for ability,and intangibles

By Gerry Boyle ‰78 | Photos by Fred Field

Katherine Koleski ‰08, Amanda Comeau ‰09, and Meghan Herlihy ‰08 take to the field in an early scrimmage
She and other coaches say they want to cull their recruiting pool down to not only athletes whom coaches would like to bring to Mayflower Hill but to athletes who don't want to go anywhere else.

Getting to that point requires coaches to sell not just their programs and the College, but to be able to distinguish Colby from its NESCAC peers. Mestieri, for one, says his program has its own defining characteristics just as the College does. He sells the quality of the faculty, the supportive community, and the beautiful campus. He looks for a commitment to football (Blue Team Pride, the team's motto, reflects hard work and an unselfish team approach) but counsels potential recruits that academics is absolutely the first priority at Colby. "We tell a kid, 'Pick a school where you would be happy if you weren't playing football—if you got hurt,'— Mestieri said.

"The overnight visits gave me such a good look ath the kind of people who are there. Are these people you want to spend four years with? That's really what set Colby apart."

Kevin Bird '08, a defensive end on the football team, who enrolled at Colby after being recruited by several NESCAC schools

And pick they do—earlier than ever.

"They know that for student-athletes, early decision is the way to go,— Holsten said. This year she had a player write in June to say she would be applying early decision to Colby, the earliest that's happened, Holsten said. Even those players who by summer have not yet made a decision about where they'll apply make sure the coaches know Colby is on the list. "I have narrowed down my list to four schools,— one prep-school player wrote in an e-mail to Holsten this summer, with the early-decision deadline still months away, "and I'm very serious about Colby.— How serious is serious enough? For Mestieri, it's more than just an athlete's desire to go to Colby, Middlebury, or Williams. "So many kids are hung up on going to the NESCAC schools no matter which one it is,— he said. "We want kids who want to go here.—

Holsten looks for the same desire to go to Colby when she sits in her office with a potential recruit—an interview that, by design, leaves parents waiting in the hall. It's not hard to pick out the player who can't wait to put on a Colby jersey, she said. "You can see it the moment they come in the door."