As high school seniors spend their winter breaks filling out undergrad applications for colleges across the country, many student-athletes also spend that time undergoing an extensive recruitment process. Whether you’re a track star or soccer athlete, applying to a big state school or a small liberal arts institution, the athletic recruitment process is one many non-athletes are unfamiliar with.
As SLC brings in more athletes every year, the recruitment process has become an important factor in expanding the school’s athletic programs. Although SLC cannot offer athletic scholarships or other financial perks due to their status as a D-III school, that doesn’t make the recruitment process any less competitive.
Jacob Ringo, ‘21, went through the recruiting process his senior year of high school. A swimmer, Ringo’s own recruitment process started on a college recruiting website, where he made a profile and was connected with college programs across the country.
“I got many generic copy-and-paste messages from different programs,” said Ringo. “Independently [...] I found Sarah Lawrence, and I fell in love with Sarah Lawrence.”
Although he connected with the team’s then-coach, Eric Mitchell, Ringo was not dead set on swimming at SLC when he applied his senior year.
“I was kind of on the fence about swimming at Sarah Lawrence, so I didn’t commit .I didn’t tell the coach that I wanted to be a swimmer here until after I had applied,” said Ringo. “I called [Mitchell] [and said] ‘I’m already accepted, I’m coming to the school, and I’m gonna swim for your team.’ Most of my recruitment was done when I had already got here, he kind of sold it on me.”
Even though Ringo is only a sophomore, he is already co-captain of the men’s team. As captain, Ringo has a role in recruiting as well—only this time, he’s on the other side of the process.
“Coach does the recruiting, he does all of the legwork,” explains Ringo. “Anthony [Lee, ‘19] the other captain, will reach out to them because he’s a senior and has that couple extra years of experience.”
While Ringo may not be the one doing the recruiting, he still makes sure that, as captain, he remains active in the process.
“So far I’ve made it a point to meet every recruit who comes to campus. That’s just my own personal thing,” said Ringo. “I answer any questions that they have, any question that I can, and if I can’t answer your question, I know someone who can.”
Because SLC is a D-III school, Ringo wants to make sure potential recruits are interested in more than just swimming.
“So far I’ve never hosted a recruit, but I’ve gotten dinner with recruits, I’ve hung out with recruits. I try not to make [the visit] all about swimming, because that’s not what this school is,” said Ringo.
As someone who has gone through the recruitment process before, Ringo wants to make sure anyone considering swimming at SLC can be informed as possible before commiting.
“I want to make it as easy as possible. I want to make sure if they do come here, they love it here,” said Ringo. “I want them to come here and know what they’re getting into.”
“Realistically, if you’ve been a swimmer, you’ll continue to be a swimmer,” Ringo explained. “When we’re actively recruiting someone, I want to make sure they’re comfortable with the college they’re choosing, rather than the sport.”
From recruit to captain in a little under two years, Ringo’s swim career at SLC has moved pretty quickly. The team has also faced new changes as well, including a new coach. This season, SLC hired John King as the new head coach of both the Men’s and Women’s Swim Teams.
“[Mitchell and King have] both been the best coaches I’ve ever had, and they’ve both been the hardest coaches,” said Ringo. “[King is] definitely pushing us a lot harder this year, but I think that’s because he’s a lot fresher out of college, he’s more studied up on workouts and training regimens. I don’t think we’ve changed in difficulty, but we’ve changed some of the fine-turning aspects.”
As captain, part of Ringo’s responsibility has been helping the team with this transition.
“A lot of it is the captains carrying over what we learned from Eric over to John,” said Ringo. “We still want to have the team and be Gryphons; that doesn’t change, it’s just the coach. We’ve moved laterally, instead of a gap in difficulty.”
One thing that has changed this season is the practice schedule. Ringo described last season as much more “malleable” and dependant on athletes’ schedules, whereas this year every morning starts with a sharp 6:30 practice. Athletes spend two hours in the pool, vying to set new personal records and preparing the team for their penultimate meet, the Metropolitan Swimming and Diving Championships on February 22nd. With a talented group of first years, it looks like the Gryphons might have one of their most successful seasons yet.
“We’ve broken almost every record,” explained Ringo. “We’re putting in the work, we’ve definitely gotten stronger, we’ve definitely gotten faster, we’re just clawing at records all the time. I just want us all to get to Metros. I just want all the freshman to shatter all their personal records, all the school records. Just get a whole new board of names up there.”
As another year passes and a new of class of recruits arrives, Ringo looks forward to building the Gryphons family.
“The biggest factor in the recruiting process, and this goes for any sport, are the people who are already on the team,” said Ringo. “ If you want to be on this team, you’re part of this team. There’s no entry level, no initiation, there’s none of that. If you want to be on this team, you’re part of this team. You’re part of this family.”
Bella Rowland-Reid ‘21