The things prospective students look for in a college is different for every single person.
It is even more different for a student athlete who is looking to further extend a playing career to the collegiate level.
When you look at the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, no two schools are similar to each other.
This includes the campus experience and the amount of money that goes into athletic programs.
Jason Mackey, a staff writer in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, wrote an article about the financial inequalities between the PSAC West schools compared to the PSAC East schools in 2014.
In the article he states that there is very little that is equal when it comes to the PSAC schools.
This is a problem that Clarion University coaches have to deal with on a daily basis during the recruiting process.
In the PSAC West, schools such as CalU, IUP and Gannon are able to put more money into athletic departments as far as scholarships go.
With the more scholarship money a school has, there is a larger margin for error.
However smaller schools like Clarion, which have a more difficult time raising scholarship money, have less margin for error.
With that being said, what do Clarion University coaches sell about the university to make sure they can get the recruit that they want?
Both wrestling coach Keith Ferarro and volleyball coach Jennifer Mills share the same outlook in the recruiting process.
“It comes down to the environment,” Ferarro said.
“We ask our recruits to think a lot about what type of environment they can see themselves thriving in,” he continued.
However, for Mills, the education that Clarion University provides is her main selling point.
“When we are recruiting an athlete, the process usually begins because we’ve seen them compete. We then immediately try to find out what they are looking to study,” Mills said.
Mills sees the quality of programs provided here at Clarion as an advantage for her recruiting process.
However, with all the advantages that Clarion provides, there are some downfalls that coaches need to overcome.
For Ferarro, competing with other Division I wrestling programs, and the facilities that Clarion provides is his main challenge.
Ferarro puts a spin on this challenge and makes it an advantage.
“Many of our competitors have made it a priority for their universities to maintain a nice training facility. Although, we are really excited to start getting caught up, the reality is that our old facilities have been home to 46 Division I All-Americans. This is an impressive tradition when compared to other programs in the country,” Ferraro said.
Not only are the student athletes looking for a school that fits them, but the recruiters are looking for players that fit in with the current team.
“We also look for student athletes that mesh well with our current players. We make sure that our recruits spend time with the current team so they get a feel for the culture. We are a family and we try to make sure that we don’t disrupt that,” Mills said.
With that being said, current athletes on all teams play a role in getting recruits to come to Clarion.
Mills sees her players take a more advanced approach to help her recruiting process.
“With social media now it is also very easy for our recruits to continue communicating with current players. We can’t ask our players to do this due to NCAA regulations, but once they meet, they all tend to begin networking. This is extremely beneficial so that they can form bonds prior to the student athlete entering our program,” Mills said.
Clarion University coaches have had success recruiting athletes to further their education and their playing careers here in Clarion.
Even with a small school setting, there is still plenty that Clarion has to offer.