By Amit Shilton
It’s a simple equation: Great players make up great teams. Easy, right?
For Ryerson coaches, though, the question isn’t always who, but how to get great players to don the university’s blue and gold.
“You’re not going to win unless you recruit, it’s that simple,” said Terry Haggerty, Ryerson’s manager of interuniversity sports. “If you’re just going to try to run your program based on who shows up, then you might as well not do much.”
Women’s soccer coach Peyvand Mossavat is looking to spark a soccer program from the one that won its first game in four years last year.
Mossavat said that the team’s notorious losing history has been a tough sell. He also said that not being able to offer students a physical education program and lack of other general programs turns students off.
The coach recalled a tournament featuring approximately 120 prospective university players and only one chose Ryerson as a school of interest. “I think you’ll probably see that stat change,” Haggerty said.
“Peyvand and the full coaching staff have been very proactive in getting out there and getting Ryerson out there.”
In fact, Mossavat said he puts between 20 to 30 hours a week into the program during the season, and 15 to 25 hours in the summer.
His regiment includes going out to watch league games and spending at least an hour a day sending personal e-mails to players.
“Instead of trying to sell the program, we have to try and sell ourselves,” Mossavat said.
Excellence in programs such as journalism, radio and television arts, and architecture has also been a strong selling point for students, he said. Entering his second year as head coach, Mossavat is already seeing his recruiting efforts pay off.
He was able to land mid-fielder Shannon Ferreira last year, who led the team with four goals. Ferreira was playing soccer at a university in Buffalo, but left after a year.
She was recently named to the first OUA all-star team. “I went (to Ryerson) because I like Peyvand. He really knows how to talk to people,” Ferreira said. She was by far the Rams quickest player and scored four of the team’s nine goals.
Mossavat will be looking to find more players like Ferreira, as he tries to establish a good reputation for the program. “The next three to four years are going to be tough,” he said. “Once you establish a program you get to pick and choose (players).”
Mossavat looks to teams such as the men’s volleyball as an example of how aggressive recruiting yields winning results. In 10 seasons, coach Mirek Porosa has turned the team into a contender and has established an excellent reputation for the program.
“If you do your homework, if you go after players that you want, it’s OK,” Porosa said. During his tenure at Ryerson, Porosa has been able to land star players such as Matt Fugard, Anton Hauser, Nic Beaver, Oleh Kovalchuk and two-time OUA Most Valuable Player Ryan Vandenburg.
After recruiting Vandenburg and Hauser, Porosa was able to show off the team’s talent to other recruits. “It was my program,” Vandenburg, an urban and regional planning student, responded when asked why he came to Ryerson.
“It’s not a program you find everywhere. Mirek also recruited me really hard.” Leading the Canadian Junior team to a gold medal in 2000 has made Porosa a popular name in the volleyball community.
This, in turn, has made it easier to contact club league coaches and has allowed him to recruit freely on a national level. “Since his team is very successful, it’s not just your identifying them, it’s them identifying you,” Haggerty said.
Porosa said he spends most of his recruiting time watching tournaments that usually last an entire day. He also stays in contact with players via e-mail, relationships that last a year and a half to two years.
“It’s more personal now,” Porosa said. “If you want to be on top, you have to have a good personality.”
After a season that saw the volleyball team make its first ever OUA finals appearance, Porosa is expecting his entire team to come back next year, making his workload lighter.
“It’s easier for me right now because I’m looking for particular people,” he said. “It’s not easy to join our team and be an impact player.”
For Haggerty, things are only looking up. He sees the university as a strong contender in the athletic market in the near future.
“I’m not just hopeful, I know we’re going to be good.”