I hope you are well. This is a challenging time as many of us have friends with the virus or have had it ourselves. We also understand that many people are out of work facing serious financial issues. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone.
Recently, a number of our valued supporters sent me a series of questions. While I answered many of them in recent Wrestling Room YouTube videos, I want to respond to the questions I didn’t get a chance to answer. I hope the responses provide additional insight into our program. Below is a summary of the questions we received and my responses. A few questions had compliance implications so I answered them as best as possible.
As always, thank you for your continuing support. Your valued commitment enables us to have an outstanding program on and off the mat. I will continue to strive ensure that you are proud of Rutgers wrestling.
Head Rutgers Wrestling Coach
Questions for Scott from Major Donors
1. Will Rider and Princeton be scheduled every year?
Scheduling is a challenge as we develop most of our out-of-conference schedule after the Big Ten schedule is determined. Our first priority is to get our guys the right experience and exposure to prepare them for the national tournament. For example, in the last three years we have been to the Midlands, the Cliff Keen, and the Southern Scuffle. We will do our best to schedule appropriate local competition. But, it won’t happen every year.
2. Hi Scott…-perspective to my question is you are in the talent acquisition business…athletes and staff…assume you agree…with that said…what are the one or two things (direct or via the SKWC) that the university can now do to accelerate making RU the go to place for hammers to want to attend-…
I am asking the SKWC to form a small committee to survey the top seniors in the region and ask exactly what is most important to them in selecting a college. Is it scholarship money, workout partners, tradition, facilities, academics, internships, campus environment, etc.? We want to do everything possible to identify the recruits that will fit our culture and learn how best to secure their commitment.
3. What has been the response from top level recruits about why they should consider Rutgers as their future home?
While we have gotten a few top recruits, we have missed out on a lot of Blue-chippers. We need to understand how we need to change in order to get them. That’s why I am asking the SKWC to do the research I referenced in the previous question. I do believe we have created an environment that is exciting and enticing. Our facilities, fans, and RTC program are among the best and get us the attention of most top recruits. We are not going to quit in our quest to get the best wrestlers to choose Rutgers.
4. I’d like to ask Coach Goodale how the Olympics being pushed back will affect the team (and college wrestling in general) next year. For example, Nick Suriano took an Olympic redshirt this year, can he take another next year? does he have NCAA eligibility left, etc.
Nick has one more year of eligibility to compete in the NCAA. We really want him back and I hope he wrestles for us. At this time, I support his Olympic goals and want him to win the gold. I don’t know if he comes back next year or pursues his Olympic goals on a full-time basis. The Olympics are currently scheduled to take place in 2021.
a. How do you think the corona virus will change recruiting on a going forward basis?
Currently, recruits are not allowed on campus until at least June 1st. If the ban remains in effect, some recruits may select a school without visiting it. When the ban is lifted, I expect recruiting to go back to normal. We have done a number of virtual tours. It is a level playing field as all schools must comply with the same rules.
b. Who do you see redshirting next year?
It is too early to assess who is best suited to redshirt. We should know more after practice begins and we understand which students would benefit from a redshirt.
c. Which incoming freshman has the best chance of making a splash next year?
John Poznanski and Connor O’Neil are ranked as one of the top three seniors in their weight class and Dylan Shawver is ranked in the top seven. They have incredible high school credentials. But, come September that will not mean much. We will have to see.
6. Is there any truth to the rumor that another NJ kid at Finger Lakes isn’t getting into Cornell next season?
I have not heard that. There may be rumors on social media. I stay off the message boards and try to avoid all rumors.
7. What are the coaches doing to get top national recruits on a regular basis?
We are working our butts off. A day doesn’t go by without building the culture to get the best recruits. We hired Kyle Kiss as our recruiting coordinator and he has been a great. This year we have gotten in front of more top kids than ever before. We are in the game and we won’t quit. The best kids are starting to realize what we are building and that they can achieve their dreams at Rutgers.
8. Where are our wrestlers, how are you staying in contact with them, and what are their workout plans?
Our wrestlers are home finishing their course work on-line and getting workouts as often as possible. We have a lot of Google hangouts and Zoom meetings. There is constant dialogue with Scott Walker, our academic advisor, and Mike DeMarco, our strength and conditioning coach, sends workouts the guys can do at home.
9. When I attended a practice session, I was very impressed how the wrestlers greeted me without knowing me. I must believe this was taught to them by the Coaches.
You took your personal time to attend practice and guys appreciate that. They want to thank you for your support. We discuss with our team how valuable the SKWC is and how supportive our members are. We all recognize that our fan support is second to none throughout the country!
10. What else are the Coaches teaching the wrestlers in addition to wrestling?
We constantly focus on life lessons. We try to understand each wrestler’s passion and personal needs and support them in their quest. It could be their faith, guiding them in life decisions, preparing them for the work world, how to handle society, or personal issues. Teaching never stops.
11. Please explain the Coach’s role on the education side of college.
We have an academic adviser that works with our team and the coaches are really involved with our guys’ education. We are constantly staying in touch. We know what is happening in the classroom and make sure they are in class, attend tutoring appointments, and don’t miss study hall. We work very closely everyday with Scott Walker. Three of our coaches are former high school teachers so academics are extremely important to us.
During this pandemic the SKWC mentors are active reaching out to their mentees. Dante Puorro, who leads our mentoring program, has scheduled a conference call with our seniors and graduate students. If anyone has internships or job-shadowing opportunities, please email Dante at [email protected]
12. What are your feelings regarding the level of recruiting of good young men who will represent Rutgers as good men not just good wrestlers?
We want kids who are capable of living a “championship lifestyle” and won’t cut corners. We seek young men who can be strong academically, socially, and athletically. We will take a chance on a great wrestler who may be considered a “live wire”. But for the most part, recruits need to be young men that the staff would want to have around their families. Otherwise, the relationship will never grow. If the relationship doesn’t grow it will be difficult to achieve great success in all three areas.
13. I’m sure he will also talk about wrestling success but I am interested in hearing his views on culture.
Culture is key and it must be defined. Is it all about winning? Is it all about being a good kid? Is it about holding each other accountable? I’m learning that culture must come from within the team. The team develops the culture. Not the coaches. My favorite teams/best teams did all the above. They didn’t always have the best results; but our culture was conducive to success in the “BIG 3”. Leaders aren’t always the best wrestlers. You need leaders to hold the team accountable to create the best culture possible. Culture is something you never stop developing and it changes year to year. You often learn how effective your culture is when you see where your wrestlers wind up ten years after graduation.