Assistant Coach Nick Gorup answers and gives an in-depth view about the challenges of recruiting.
What are you looking for in recruiting?
We consider ourselves a blue-collar type of team so work-ethic is huge for us when recruiting. We search for players who have skill but are also not afraid to grind it out all over the arena. We like fast forwards and tough defensemen that opposing teams forwards do not want to end up in the corners with.
What is your goal when you attend a recruiting camp?
My goal is mainly talk to the kids who would best fit our team/system. Some of the players you talk to may have little interest or are committed to another club but you need to communicate in order to persuade players and explain why El Paso would be the best fit for them and what our mission is; Win and move our players on to higher levels.
What is the structure of the camp?
Usually the structure of most camps is really simple. Some camps we attend are showcases that players sign up for and are split into 6-12 teams depending on the amount of players. There is usually one practice session for one or two teams each, then for the remainder of the camp the players play scrimmage games.
How do you approach players?
I like to approach players around the last few days of the camp, only because in the beginning they may be a little nervous so their play may not be all the way up to par. First, I introduce myself and explain to them what I saw them excel at over the course of the weekend. I then explain what we are looking for and how they can fit and succeed in our club.
What is the main selling point that you use for recruiting?
The main selling point that I use is the fact that our organization has built a history of winning and moving player on to higher levels of competition. I then move into explaining our amazingly dedicated fan base and all the luxuries our players have when they come to El Paso. Some of those luxuries include dressing room, bus, arena, training facility and the fact that they are treated like professionals everywhere.
What are some tips you have for players that are attending camps?
Tips that I could pass on to any player planning on attending a camp is to simply play your game. If you are a goal scorer, score goals, if you are a power forward, drive the net or if you are a defenseman, play tough in the d-zone.
How does your experience as a former Rhino help you relate to the players? How does it shape your recruiting ability?
Being a former Rhino player helps me tremendously when it comes to recruiting. I can share my experiences with new recruits and explain to them the journey I took, even after playing for the Rhinos. When players hear stories from former players it usually sparks more interest in them wanting to become a Rhino.
What are some difficulties in recruiting?
Some of the most difficult aspects of recruiting depend on if a new prospect shows interest in our program or not after talking to them. If a player at a showcase is playing for another team in the WSHL and are on a current roster/protected list, we are not allowed to talk to them under any circumstance. Of course traveling and living out of a hotel room with only a suitcase can make things a little rough at times.
How important is it for you to attend camps?
It is extremely important for us to attend camps for many reasons. For one, we need to get out there and see all the talent we can. Hockey is growing so much in the U.S. and players are coming in from all over the country. It’s also important to attend camps to re-visit players from previous camps and see new players and introduce ourselves. Publicity for our organization is very crucial to find the players that we think will give us the best chance to win by the time the season begins.
How important are a player’s stats as compared to watching them in person?
Player stats do play a role in how we recruit, but it is not the only thing that matters. Watching a player in a game situation is a very important aspect when recruiting. Another extremely important part of recruiting is what kind of character the athlete has off the field. We want our players to be hard-working on the ice, but it’s just as important that they remain a class-act off the ice as well.
Can you tell me who/what you found/approached?
All I can say is that we will put another great team on the ice this season and you will all find out come training camp in September.