More athletes drawn to Simpson

More athletes drawn to Simpson

by Zach JevneStaff Writer

Simpson College has a lot to offer potential student-athletes, and based on the numbers this year, even more students will be getting that experience.

“Anytime a prospective student is interested in athletics or being part of the program, our coaches will talk with them,” Athletic Director John Sirianni said. “The first thing we tell them is everybody has an equal opportunity to come out for a team. The second thing is the expectations of what it takes to play is explained (in depth).”

Being up-front and honest with the student-athletes is something that is stressed by the coaching staffs. Knowing what is expected of the athlete also helps the transition to college athletics.

“Our coaches will treat every one of our prospective student-athletes properly, with honesty and integrity,” Sirianni said. “That is the expectation.”

The number of students participating in athletics has increased dramatically from last year, according to Sirianni.

“Last year, including cheer and dance, we had 539 students involved,” Sirianni said. “This year we have 599, which includes cross-overs – students who play more than one sport. So there was a significant jump.”

It is not about just getting as many students out for athletics as possible, however. “Optimal squad size” is a very important term to Simpson athletics. Certain teams, such as football and track, can handle more student-athletes than others.

At the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year, the Simpson football team had 142 members on its team, the majority being freshmen. The men’s and women’s track team has increased from 25 to 30 members a few years ago to around 80 this year. Increased numbers provide more competition and even more opportunities.

“Competition is the big thing,” football coach Jim Glogowski said. “We want at least 120 guys, 60 on the varsity and 60 on the junior varsity. One hundred twenty-five to 130 would be optimal, because on any given day, there could be five to 10 guys who aren’t practicing because of injuries or other reasons.”

This year there are seven junior varsity football games. This allows the freshmen to get actual game experience, something that Glogowski uses in recruiting.

“I guarantee every kid the opportunity to play as a freshman,” Glogowski said. “Whether it’s on the junior varsity or varsity, they’re going to play as a freshman. They are not going to red-shirt or sit out. They’re going to get into game-like situations. We’re trying to sell the opportunity to keep playing, to have fun and to be part of something bigger than yourself.”

The overall student-athlete experience and what can be learned from it is something that Sirianni stresses.

“You learn how to win the right way and lose the right way,” Sirianni said. “You learn how to interact with people who are different than you for a common goal. You learn how to commit to something, go through the process of preparing yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and actually having a real test. Then regroup and do it all over again. There are a whole host of true-life experiences, and our coaches do a great job of relating these experiences to life after playing.”

The location of the campus and the outstanding education that is offered are great selling points for coaches.

“Simpson is well-known for our education,” baseball coach Ben Blake said. “It’s a beautiful campus in a nice community. The proximity to Des Moines is also a draw to some students, especially with internships and other opportunities that may become available.”

The athletic department staff tries to emphasize everything they say Simpson has to offer potential athletes.

“When we recruit kids, we don’t recruit them just to play football or basketball or any sport, we spend an enormous amount of time talking about a great total education,” Sirianni said. “That is a key element of our recruiting philosophy. We want kids to buy into that total educational opportunity.”