Not all canceled flights lead to frustrated travelers. Just ask Emily Nicholson.
The freshman middle blocker is a native of Denver, Colorado and committed to Temple last spring after visiting the university on her high school’s spring break. While eating breakfast the morning she was expecting to return to Denver, Nicholson received a text from her dad saying her flight had been canceled due to inclement weather. This forced Nicholson to stay at Temple for two extra days, which she said sealed the decision.
“Those two extra days had a huge difference for me,” Nicholson said. “By the end of that second day I didn’t want to leave.”
Nicholson was also considering Temple’s American Athletic Conference foe Cincinnati, as well as Florida Gulf Coast. But after her two extra days on North Broad Street, her mind was made up.
“I called [coach Bakeer Ganes] right when I got back,” Nicholson added.
Nicholson was already friends with junior middle blocker Halle McCullough prior to committing to Temple. McCullough is from Colorado Springs and played with Nicholson on the same club team in high school. Nicholson said McCullough’s choosing Temple sparked her interest in joining Temple herself.
However, while Mc
Cullough played a role in Nicholson’s choice, the freshman recalled significant dialogue with Ganes regarding what each side was looking for. For Ganes, calling and emailing recruits is nothing new, and the communication goes beyond just the players.
“The main thing that plays into recruiting is relationships – relationships with club directors, club coaches and high school coaches,” Ganes said.
However, Ganes said it’s all about the players in the end.
“It all comes down to what the prospect wants,” Ganes said. “So you kind of have to find their niche.”
For Ganes and assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Akiko Hatakeyama, finding the niche for Nicholson’s teammate, another freshman and outside hitter Dara Peric was a little different than most recruits. Peric is from Belgrade, Serbia and never visited Temple before committing. While Peric had been exchanging emails with Hatakeyama almost every day, that didn’t curb her nerves with arriving at Temple for the first time.
“I was nervous because everything was so new for me and the fact that I can’t speak my language anymore because no one understands me,” Peric said. “The good thing is that we started practicing right away and I got to meet the girls a day after I came here. I made a connection with them and I loved it.”
As the recruiting coordinator, Hatakeyama said she is used to dealing with emails from prospects. For Hatakeyama, the message to each one is simple.
“I’m sure they’re considering other schools but we want to make them feel comfortable and that Temple is a good option for them,” Hatakeyama said. “We want them to have a really good feel about things and know who we are.”
For transfers, the process is a little different, as junior defensive specialist Kayla Yingling learned.
Yingling spent her first year playing collegiate volleyball at the University of Buffalo. Despite being from Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, just two hours from Philadelphia, Temple wasn’t on her radar coming out of high school.
“I didn’t even think about Temple, actually,” Yingling said.
However, after a season at Buffalo, Yingling said she felt a change was needed.
“It was mainly [former Buffalo coach Todd Kress],” Yingling said. “We didn’t see eye-to-eye.”
After deciding to transfer, it was up to Yingling to look at schools and see if they offered her preferred major of sport and recreation management. She also looked for teams that needed defensive players, and then sent emails out to respective coaches.
Having been through a tough first year at Buffalo, Yingling contemplated taking a semester off to give herself time to find the right school and ensure that she wouldn’t have to transfer again. The option of sacrificing half a year wasn’t necessary, though, as she ultimately wound up at Temple.
“When I came on my visit, I didn’t really know what I would think of it because I’ve never experienced the whole city thing,” Yingling said. “I fell in love with it. I love it here and I’m glad I chose [Temple].”
Greg Frank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @G_Frank6