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How does the U of R recruit internationally?

Many Cougars basketball players were recruited from outside Saskatchewan./ Arthur Ward
Many Cougars basketball players were recruited from outside Saskatchewan./ Arthur Ward

The journey of a prospective university athlete

The lifeblood of any athletic program is recruiting and the University of Regina’s squads do plenty of it.

While local recruiting is a big part of the athletic programs at the U of R, many of the athletes who wear the green and gold come from a variety of different places. The CKHS plays host to athletes from the United States, Mexico, Egypt, and Spain among other locations, every year.

But how do they find themselves balling out for the Cougars or the Rams? For men’s basketball guard Alex Igual it began with an e-mail.

“I emailed some coaches when I realized that I couldn’t play anymore in the NCAA, the United States, so I emailed a couple coaches from Canada.”

He says that coach Steve Burrows was one of the first to respond.

“He replied [to] me right away, maybe in an hour or two hours from my e-mails. Everything was really, really fast and after he [made] contact with me I had a couple offers from other universities and I spent some time searching a lot of these universities and the programs and everything and then I decided to come here.”

Igual competed for Cuesta College in California after playing professionally in his native Spain, before his journey to Regina.

But Igual isn’t the only U of R athlete who made the decision to relocate in order to heighten his career. Second-year Rams player Bryce McKinnon also moved, but from a little closer than Europe: Cochrane, Alberta. His recruiting story played out like many do, with a campus visit.

“I had about sixteen schools calling me telling me they wanted me to go to play for their program. Frank McCrystal and Coach Dawson were the ones who called me out. I came out for a visit to the U of R and fell in love.”

Newly-minted Rams head coach Mike Gibson had this to say when asked what a tour like Mckinnon’s would look like to a prospective member of the upcoming recruiting class. “For example, they fly in, myself or Coach Dawson picks them up, takes them to get something to eat, they’ll come in and they’ll have academic meetings today, they’ll go to a class. They’ll get a chance to meet with our strength coach today, they’ll get a chance to meet with our players and hang out with our players. Whatever position they are, they’ll get a chance to go out with that coach for dinner so that they can start to develop a relationship. Tomorrow, they’ll still be here; they’ll leave sometime midday to late-afternoon tomorrow. Tomorrow there’ll be a campus tour [and] they’ll be an individual meeting with me. I kind of save that to the last thing, where they can sit down with me and ask me any questions they might have.”

In order for the University to recruit more and more athletes from around the globe, it must have solid recruiting strategy – something that it seems to have at the moment.

About John Loeppky

I am an athlete with a writing problem, or a writer with a sports problem, you decide. When I'm not editing, playing wheelchair sports, or advocating for the disabled, you can find me de-stressing with friends.