Subject:          [Hockeynet] Starting a Club : Recruiting
       Date:             Mon, 23 Sep 2002 11:53:31 -0600
      From:             Steve Hack <sh>
        To:             dgraves <DGRA>

Here are some of the recruiting techniques that have worked at Univ of Illinois or Colorado State Univ.

*) If there is a recruiting fair for student activities, get a both and participate. At Illinois, the day before classes state, the University hosted a Quad Day where 400+ students organizations set up booths and try to recruit students / freshmen.  At CSU, they have a much smaller activity called Centertainment two/three weeks into the semester.  At MIT, they have a fair/break time during January to give the students something to do besides study for a bit.  Either way, these recruiting booths have been the best means to getting the initial student body to start the club.

At these fairs, your main goal is to get people curious about underwater hockey.  A bold banner over some signs or tee shirts, pictures, equipments, news paper articles, etc all help to show that hockey is areal sport while attracting people to the booth.  It helps making the booth stand out from others; MANY bright colored posters high enough to see over the crowd standing in front of the booth.  While manning the both, demo equipment, explain how the game is played, the 5 W's and some general information about underwater hockey.  I have found that the following points help get people to come out to practice and get in at least a few times.  "We're a Co-ed, non contact club.  We have no fixed team and no roster.  We make up teams each practice with who ever shows up.  So, you can come to many practice or just every once in a while. Come as often as you want, or as little as you want, just come."

*) At these recruiting fairs, have a firm starting date - whether it be a picnic, first practice, or introductory class.  In Illinois, we found a picnic offering FREE food within a few days of Quad Day was the best way to bribe students to come out, stuff their face, and get their curiosity aroused.  If we waited two weeks for the first practice, most students would already have found enough activities to participate in or would forget about underwater hockey.  Feeding cheap burgers and chips is the way to a students heart.  Offer free food and they will come.

At CSU, all student organizations get a room to host an introductory meeting.  Every date is set the previous spring and published in the semester student guides.  This first meeting provides an opportunity to introduce underwater hockey and hook in new players.

*) At the first practice, no matter how many experience people you have, DO NOT scrimmage!  This is assuming you have more than two new players
:>  If you have new players, make them the focus of your attention, not playing some good hockey.  Spend the first few practices explaining the
components of underwater hockey while getting people to try individual skills.  Here is the order that we've been teaching new people:

  1) Getting equipment on / fitted
  2) Teaching people how to snorkel (>=3D 1/2 the people have problems at   first)
  3) How to hold the stick, the basics of pushing the puck and spinning  the puck to pass it.
  4) How to dive down to the bottom.  Have people get down and swim on    the bottom like they are holding a puck. BOGDATS (the idea and      mechanics)
  5) Turning with the puck / curling
  6) The basics of when and where to go down for a pass

Many of your players, especially swimmers, will be able to fly through these skills.  At this point, start them off playing a scrimmage.  Depending on how many people, you could play one full court or one/two half court games.  The idea here is to get people to dive down and attempt to push the puck.  It is better to have more games with fewer people then one large game.  If you have experience people, put one on each time to keep things moving and spread out.  As certain players get the hang of it, start stepping up the play against them.  If you have two experience players, it is useful for these two people to go after each other and play some strong one on one when everybody is breathing.  If nothing else, it will show new players where the game is going.  It is very nice playing in a educational environment; everybody is there to learn.

The key to keeping recruits is to keep the level of play low enough that everybody can contribute.  If people can never touch the puck, they will quickly get bored and frustrated.

*) Once you get your first core of people recruited, have them try to get every body they know come out and give it a try.  Make sure the level of play is low enough that the new people can follow the play, participate a little, and not get frustrated.

*) Equipment.  I have tried to different approaches.  One, invest in some decent equipment, showing players what type of equipment works well for underwater hockey.  The other, get cheap equipment so people can jump into the water, but encourage people to buy there own.  Both methods have their down falls.

Buying good equipment:  People like it and are less willing to buy new equipment.  This hurts because the good equipment is being used for longer periods and is not available for new players.

Providing cheap / well used equipment: This allows many people to get in the water, although MUCH more time is spent getting people suited up and equipped.  On the converse side, people are interested in buying equipment right away.  One of the problems with new players buying equipment is that you end up with people wearing scuba equipment.  Even if you tell them at every practice, it often does not sink in.  Strapped fins are no good for hockey.  The dry snorkels with the floating stop, while works well for snorkeling, is too expensive and hinders hockey skills.  I have also seen many players buy masks costing two or three times more than a good hockey mask, then have problems with it being elbowed and knocked off to easily. =20

My recommendation for equipment, regardless of what is provided, is to have avenues where new players can buy GOOD hockey equipment.  Maybe it is easier on the coasts, but out in Illinois and Colorado, there is no good place to buy hockey equipment.  Here is what I have found...Most of the information can be found here:

Fins: Blades FP / Stratus at - $40 + shipping (roughly $8 for one, $5 for 3)

Masks / Fin Keepers: Omer Abyss from Charlie Mathews

Sticks: Steve Kars will make what ever you want for $10 a pair (make sure you get some lefties)

Gloves: get some $2 nylon/polyester garden gloves from a supermarket work quite well.  Do NOT buy cotton.  Glove lines work, but are more expensive.  Unihand gloves provide more glovers per buck.  Get some 100% silicone caulk, what ever brand, and rub it in to the gloves.  After it is rubbed in, put some moderately heavy beads on the tops of the fingers and knuckles.  I would REQUIRE latex / vinyl gloves under the lines.  I seen too many people get chemical burns over their hand.  You should be able to get about 2-4 gloves a tub.  2 if you put on a nice heavy layer that would take about an hour to remove the glove.  4 if you put on just heavy enough layer to provide some protection while being quick to make.

Well, this should be enough rambling for now...  Email me if you have any questions.  I have found recruiting to be quite rewarding, especially when you can take a new team to a nationals tournament :>

-Steve Hack
Colorado State University, former University of Illinois...