In college sports, recruiting new players is necessary if you want to maintain a strong roster. Recruiting is the process where coaches get in contact (in person or otherwise) with prospective players in hopes of adding them to their team.
Head Coach Sean Hogan has been recruiting for ten years, but this is his first recruiting class at the University of Arizona. Usually, the recruiting process begins with the coach offering a scholarship to a player, but this is not the case with the University of Arizona hockey team. Coach Hogan has the unique challenge of recruiting without the ability to present players with scholarships, especially since most of the guys he recruits are from out of state, and therefore tuition costs are higher for them. During the recruiting process, Hogan shows players that the University of Arizona has everything a student-athlete could ever want: strong academics, a great social environment, and the opportunity to play hockey while receiving a full college experience. Another selling point Hogan mentioned is that ACHA Division 1, the division the Wildcats are in, is high-level and players will have post-college hockey opportunities if they work hard enough.
Coach Hogan makes about three to five recruiting trips a year, plus recruits full-time whenever he is in his home state of Michigan, which is known for its great hockey culture. When picking locations for recruiting, Hogan looks for a central location with a lot of NAHL games going on in a short period of time. During these trips, Coach Hogan is looking for guys that are “the right fit” for the program. “We want guys that want to be Wildcats,” he said. He doesn’t believe the University of Arizona is a second choice instituion. Players need to be ready to compete at a high level and know what it means to compete at that level. He said this usually isn’t an issue when scouting high level junior teams. Recruits also need to be hard-working, especially in academics, and they absolutely must have strong time management skills.
Coach Hogan’s first recruiting class included four defensemen and five forwards, and each of them had a different recruiting experience. Both Matt Nowicki and Jason Effertz were already acquainted with Coach Hogan, and this aided in their recruitment. Ansel Ivens-Anderson was persuaded by current Wildcat defenseman Zack Waxenberg. Hogan commented that many times current players can be good recruiters for the team.
In talking to some of the recent recruits, most of them mentioned that they were persuaded to come to the University of Arizona because of the unsurpassable arena we play in, and the amount of fan support we receive in Tucson. Brennan Parker, a forward from Villa Park, CA, said, “Hogan mentioned he wanted to turn the program around and strive to win a national championship. That was the biggest key for me to come here.” Effertz, a forward transfer from UMass Dartmouth, mentioned Coach Hogan himself as a deciding factor in his transfer. “He just has an amazing understanding of the game. You look at his career as a coach and you see he has won National Championships in the ACHA and so you know you are going to be playing for a top level coach who can put you in a situation to be successful.” Matt Nowicki, a transfer defenseman from Davenport University, responded, “The biggest reason I set my mind on UA Hockey was the opportunity to represent a school that was bigger than myself and my teammates.”
The decision to play for the Wildcat hockey team was an easy one for Ivens-Anderson, who said, “Upon meeting the team and learning more about the program from eventual teammates, it was very easy to see the brotherhood and the unity, and I immediately felt a strong connection with the group as whole. This made my decision to play a very easy one.”