Getting recruited means more than excelling in the sport; ARC coaches speak about scouting that perfect fit


American River College running back Julie Leslie attempts to maneuver around a Laney College defensive back to score a touchdown. The game happened on Sept. 20, 2019, at ARC football field. (Photo by Emily Mello)

Emily Mello

American River College’s recruiting process for athletes requires coaches and staff members to dig into high schools and also around the district, to find who could fit better on the team and what specific qualities or ideas are expected from them as a college-level athlete.  

“We go out and identify guys that are smart, tough, dependable,” said Jon Osterhout, the head coach for ARC’s football team. 

Recruiting may currently be on hold while all colleges and high schools in the area are closed due to COVID-19, but an example of that process is under normal circumstances, how the football team requires a demanding and long process. Each year, Osterhout and his staff members try to choose the best athletes who could fit roles and spots on the team. 

“We essentially look for a 45-minutes radius from the location here and utilize your contacts and networks to make sure we are bringing the right individuals that fit your locker room and culture of what we built here,” Osterhout said. 

Part of this selection process of athletes requires that the coach and staff members also go out to watch the athletes’ matches to analyze their performance in the field.

“We work tirelessly to the recruiting process which is going out to see them play live, we want to see them on the field to see what it looks like when the lights are turned on,” Osterhout said.

Besides the process of looking into the player’s ability to play as well as performance on the field, the coach and staff members also look at how the athlete’s environment and behaviors are outside of the field correlated to their expectations for the team role. 

“We cultivate and foster in an environment that drives student-athletes success in those aforementioned areas academically, socially, spiritually, physically and athletically, we feel like we have a blueprint to success,” Osterhout said      

The football program also offers Sport 331 Offseason Strength Conditioning, which takes place Mondays through Thursdays from 6:00 a.m to 7:20 a.m. Anybody can enroll in the class, which opens a possibility for regular students who are willing to be part of the team to be recruited by the coach and staff members 

“We literally have guys walk on our program or that are new and we didn’t recruit, and our sports class, where there are guys that made our roster that were a normal student that we didn’t actively recruit that can be part of our program,” Osterhout said

The other two fall sports that are undergoing recruiting are women’s soccer and volleyball. Each has the same approach as the football recruiting process: both coaches go out to high schools and clubs in the region, to find the right athletes that can best fit in their teams.  

ARC’s women’s soccer coach, Paul Arellanes gave insight into what criteria the coaches look for in an athlete who could be part of the team.

Forward Bianca Avilla faces off against a Cosumnes River College player during the game at American River College on Sept. 21 (Photo by Patrick Hyun Wilson

“It’s going out and watching clubbing games, talking to coaches and looking at who I think is good enough to play at this level,” Arellanes said. “You have to be open-minded to people coming in every year around January and February. … Soccer-wise, they have to be able to pass a ball with all the basic skills and the biggest thing is being able to physically stand college games.”  

The women’s volleyball team is coached by Carson Lowden whose team won the 2018 California State Championship. She gave some insights into how she and staff members recruit players for the team.

Zoe Zimmerman, a freshman outside hitter, blocks the ball during a game against Folsom Lake College on Nov. 30, 2019 (Photo by Emily Mello)

“It’s a year-round job …we go around the Sacramento area and watch the team compete and when we see athletes that we are interested in we approach the coach and the athlete as well,” Lowden said. “We need to identify the athletes and establish communication and start to build a relationship and see if it’s a good fit for both ends and we want to make sure that it’s a good fit for our program as well.”