STORY BY CARLY GRENFELL
There are a handful of dimensions that come with playing college basketball that I never really anticipated.
During the recruiting process, you are excited and anxious for what lies ahead. You take visits to the top schools of your choice. You meet a ton of people along the way. And you begin prioritizing what matters most in where you will spend the next four to five years of your life. For some, it is the size of the school, distance from home and academic education. For others, it may be the coaching staff, fitting in with the team or the basketball conference that take precedence.
The things I know now, I had no clue existed as a senior in high school on my visit to Drake’s campus. Picking out the tangible aspects of a school is easy. It is reading between the lines and appreciating the little things that high school athletes often fail or even choose not to see. I will admit, it is tough to do at that age, as I definitely did not. The royal treatment (and I say that without being facetious) is part of what makes the recruiting process so much fun. But in retrospect, it is not about the treatment. It’s about the message.
Take basketball out of the equation: are you getting a worthwhile education? Are the people genuine and will they look out for you? Does the administration act with integrity? Does the program win the right way? Do relationships matter? Are you being told the truth, or simply being told what you want to hear? Will you be treated like family, or just another number?
I can honestly say that I did not ask myself any of these questions when I was recruited. I just got extremely lucky in choosing Drake University. The answer to every single one of those questions was in my favor.
There are two things I have learned you cannot fake: a genuine spirit and true happiness. A team that appears happy is happy. A coach that gets to know you now will get to know you later. A program that preaches life beyond the basketball court sees results beyond the basketball court. A coach that goes out of his or her way to make you feel welcome will welcome you with open arms down the road (in good times and in bad). A coach that spots a red flag will do you the justice of saying you aren’t the right fit. And a team that tells you upfront how much they love his or her experience here surely can’t fake a statement as bold as that.
It’s easy to spot a phony and I obviously cannot speak on what it is like other places. But what I can attest to is that at Drake, what you see is what you get.
The recruiting process may seem hyped up everywhere you go. However, the measures that are taken here are ones that are done out of genuine interest and belief that a player will truly fit into our program. The message of Drake women’s basketball is a powerful one. It isn’t telling players that they will come in and be all-stars. It isn’t giving players false hope. And it isn’t a “going through the motions”-type process. It is selling the university, the program and the people in a way that makes players want to wear blue for the next four years.
Because what good is a player who chooses a school for any reason other than that?