From faxes to Facebook

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As the season comes to a close, the Ryereson Rams have posted better numbers than recent memory will allow. On Twitter, that is.

The athletics department is starting to score points online through social media. There has been a greater emphasis on promoting the school’s sports programs and enticing potential athletes.

Athletic director Ivan Joseph has embraced this new recruiting technique, especially as the coach of the men’s soccer team.

“My other hat on is that of a volunteer coach. And I can say 90 per cent of my recruiting is done through Facebook,” he said. “In the old days, I used to get thousands of pages of faxes, from college prospects in America, Canada, all over the world. Every Monday, there would be a stack of papers waiting on my desk. Now, here’s the website. Everyone drives to the web.”

He’s seen VHS tryout tapes evolve into DVDs and now to YouTube videos. It’s a transformation he finds to be beneficial to all parties involved, now that student-athletes and schools are able to expedite the recruitment process. That isn’t the only goal, according to men’s basketball coach Roy Rana. As an active user of Twitter, he’s worked to round up a little fewer than 100 followers to monitor the program’s progress.

“We can treat media as a window to showcase different facets of our program,” said Rana. “That makes it easier on the athletes, too. We can report both positive and negative things, to congratulate and celebrate as well.”

His goal is to rebuild a Rams team that will soon lose Ryerson’s highest scoring player, Boris Bakovic. But he also wants to build a following.

“Not just to interact with athletes or other coaches, but to increase interest in our own athletics on campus, to reach our supporters and even alumni,” he said.

However, Joseph realizes there is a professional code when it comes to online media. Being aggressive could decay a coach’s rapport with a player, he said, and could punch a hole through the school’s image. The key to social media lies in moderation.

“Personally, I don’t add any of my athletes because they need to have some private space,” said Joseph. “I don’t want to have to go looking into their private space. But wall posts and texts, I don’t think they’re intrusive.”

Ontario University Athletics has not sanctioned rules outlining how social media can and should be used.

But until a bona fide code is ironed out, communication online will continue to be paramount, said OUA executive director Ward Dilse.

“It’s important to give athletes a medium to communicate with and social media has to be a part of Ontario athletics moving forward,” he said.

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