Ella Lee – A Recruitment Story

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Hi Everyone!  Its Kim here, founder of Atleta.  I’m so happy to be writing this blog post today.  Not only is it an example what a  roller coaster ride recruitment can be,  but it is also the story of a young woman who is close to my heart, and earned every bit of her success.

3 years ago, I started coaching a u16 girls team in Vancouver.  On my team, was an incredibly talented player, Ella Lee.  I remember the first time I met her clear as day.  It was preseason (which is dreaded by most players in our club as it revolves mainly around fitness training with only short sessions dedicated to on field work).  This session was an on-field one – the girls were in much better moods.

We played a small sided possession game and this is the first time I noticed Ella.  Skill, desire, communication, leadership, commitment, natural athletic ability…. I was thrilled to have her in my squad.  I couldn’t wait to see more from her. Then the words came out of her mouth: “I’m a keeper”.  What?   I couldn’t wait to see what she could do in the net.  We moved into a shooting drill as I could hardly believe she would be better in the net than what I had seen on the field.  I was wrong.

From that moment on, Ella was on my radar as a player who would go far in her soccer career.

Fast forward 2 years, and Ella is in grade 12.  She had received an offer to play with a school in the USA, but had decided she wanted to stay in Canada.  Her first choice was to get into  Bishops University, with the goal of playing on their varsity team.  #ProudCoach.  In July, I did a soft launch of Atleta, and Ella was one of the first kids to get her profile up and active.  She began liking and connecting with coaches.  She patiently waited to hear back from the Bishops coach.  She didn’t.

However, in the coming months, she had conversations with a number of other coaches and was interested in having a “plan b” in case Bishop’s didn’t get back to her. I saw her confidence in speaking with coaches grow as she began to realize that there were coaches out there interested in her.  She continued trying to contact the coach (In all honestly, this is the reason I created the “nudge” button) and hoping to hear back from him.  Nothing.

November arrives and low and behold, the connection request from the Bishops coach came in to Ella via her Atleta account.  I squealed out loud when I saw it. In the coming weeks, they spoke back and forth and the coach asked her for video footage.  She had none.  OMG…. Scramble time to get video footage done.  We filmed games and got raw footage, and Ella and her family created a highlight reel.  She sent it on to the coach, and we crossed our fingers.  Based on the film, Bishops’ then decided to send a scout out to watch Ella live.   ITS HAPPENING!!

The weekend of the scouts’ arrival came, and wouldn’t you know it, our opposition needed to reschedule the game.  No game would be played that weekend.  NOOOOOOO!  This can NOT be happening.  Our club (Vancouver FC) and our sister club (Fusion FC) rallied.  We begged, pleaded, called in favours, and managed to get an inter-squad game so the scout could come watch our dear Ella.  #GameOn

Game day arrived, and it was a tough one.  Ella played well, but was on the losing end of the score line, and was heartbroken.  She didn’t want to even speak to the scout as she was so defeated by the game.  She uttered this phrase to me “I screwed up my ONLY chance”.  My heart sunk.  I encouraged her to simply go speak to him.  Letting her know that with the score line aside, she played well, and that he’d see that.

He said much the same to her.

Then, again, we waited. Weeks went by.

Nothing.

Jan 22, 2018.  I received an email with the re-line “Ella Lee”.  I stopped everything I was doing and excitedly opened it.  It was from the Bishops head coach asking for feedback about her as a player, as well as a person.  At this point I knew they were interested in signing her.  It’s a moment like this, that, as a coach, you simply smile.  And I did.

Feb 28, 2018.  Ella officially signed as a varsity player with Bishop’s University.

Job.  Done.

Atleta sat down and asked Ella few questions, so read below to hear about the process in her own words:

How did you decide on this school?

Bishop’s offers a Sports Study program which is ultimately a program that fits perfectly with my needs! I’ve always been super passionate about sports and health, so this program is perfect (hopefully) for me. Another reason I chose Bishop’s was the small class size which makes the overall experience more personalized. Finally, soccer was another decision that made me chose Bishop’s. Being a new and growing program there is going to be many changes which I look forward to experiencing. Overall, Bishop’s was always top of my list and soccer was a decision maker for me!

Can you describe the emotions you went through doing this process?

At first, I was super excited because I knew Bishop’s would be a good fit academically for me and I knew I wanted to play soccer in post-secondary. After the first game, one of the coaches watched I was super upset because it wasn’t my best performance, however, the coach was still interested which made me optimistic. Making a choice to move across the country was a huge decision but I knew that if I didn’t take the opportunity I would probably regret it. Overall, after making my decision to attend Bishop’s and play on the varsity team I was super excited and I’m ready to work my hardest and make the entire experience worth it!

Was Atleta helpful to you during this process?

Atleta helped me with the initial contact with the coach. I have also been contacted by other coaches through Atleta which goes to show that not only players but coaches are utilizing it!

Do you have any advice for hopeful recruits?

Some advice I have for hopeful recruits is to keep the conversation going. Something you will learn is that coaches usually take forever to reply so don’t be discouraged! Find a school that fits academically with you and be consistent with contacting and updating the coach. If possible, collect as much footage as possible as early as possible especially if you are wanting to attend a school out of province. Overall, be confident in yourself and that’s when the positive results will show!

Congrats Ella Lee, I am so proud of you and all of your hard work.  I’ll forever be one of your biggest fans!  – Kim 

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