Recruiting doesn’t stop, just have to be creative

The drive from Tiffin to Rockford, Illinois takes, roughly, five hours and 15 minutes.

Tiffin University women’s basketball coach Jessie Ivey knows the trip. She was on her way west to scout the NJCAA Division III women’s basketball tournament — in fact, she’d reached her destination — when she was told the tournament was going on with limited spectators.

In truth, Rockford was just the first stop in a three-destination trip. Ivey was then to go to Michigan, then back to Ohio for the state high school tournaments.

The shutdowns caused by the coronavirus stopped all of that.

A week and a half later, Ivey is back in Tiffin. No games to scout, no players to see.

The events of the past 11 days haven’t stopped the program’s recruiting efforts.

But they have altered them.

“So, last year, I was on the road the entire month of March, just recruiting,” said Ivey, who just completed her second season at Tiffin. “And then this year, with everything getting cancelled, the state tournaments and everything, it’s been a lot more of emailing and FaceTiming our players and just reaching out to high school and junior college coaches via email and phone at this point. And then, watching a lot of game film online.”

Ivey said that she and her staff have been relying on their players –even though those players aren’t physically there — to aid in the process.

Ivey said that new players who come in want to get comfortable with their future teammates and coaches. That’s why campus visits are so important.

But right now, they’re also impossible.

So the TU staff is showing its program’s strengths — and personality — in other ways.

“Our kids are our best recruiters for us,” Ivey said. “We’ve been doing some TikTok videos, Trick Shot Thursdays, from things we’ve done in the past, and posting those. Email, FaceTime. I know Tiffin is doing a really good job of trying to set up some virtual tours, just compiling a bunch of video and things like that, just to get it out there, so people can see what we have.”

If you’re not sure TikTok is, don’t feel bad. Even Ivey admitted she needed help in how to use the video sharing social networking service. She said she’s had to, since she finding that more and more, prospective players don’t check their emails.

“They’re Instagram and they’re on TikTok,” Ivey said. “Part of that is our players teaching us those things, and trying to reach out that way, where we’re actually getting to them and not just sitting in their inbox. It’s been interesting being the student from our kids, trying to learn what TikTok actually is.”

But Ivey said it’s been difficult. She sees her players through Facetime and other apps, but the students aren’t on campus, which is another adjustment.

“Part of our job is being their for our kids who are on campus,” she said. “It’s just hard not seeing them every day. It’s part of that postseason depression, but it’s completely different than it has been in the past, because we just don’t have them. So, we’ve been doing a group chat on WhatsApp, and we’re setting up weekly academic meetings with them via FaceTime, and just trying to make sure to keep it as normal as possible, what everyone is calling the new normal.”

It’s a normal we’re all still getting used to.