GRANDE PRAIRIE, AB – Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves women’s volleyball coach Lauren Hale-Miller struck the motherlode recruiting four Dawson Creek Volleyball Club members for next year.
Without being able to get into the high school gyms to see players live, Hale-Miller had to depend on the relationships she built in her short two years at the helm of the Wolves.
“I definitely miss being there in person. I think that’s the fun and exciting part of recruiting when you’re there in person, even though it takes up a ton of time,” says Hale-Miller. “I feel like coaches just know that they’re gonna spend their weekends and evenings in the gym; it just comes with the job.”
This year, Hale-Miller had to rely on sparse video clips, and most of all, fellow coaches for information.
“This year was just email, virtual meetings, and videos of whatever content the athletes would have. I ask for game film instead of just skill breakdowns, just because I like to see how athletes are reacting on the court. Are they positive, are they focused, and so on.”
With little film from this season to evaluate, Hale-Miller said she had to look back further.
“That was kind of hard because no one had game film from the current year, but not much really changes from one month to another. You just have to trust that when you meet the athlete online, they are the person you think they are.”
One coach that helped Hale-Miller was Dawson Creek Volleyball Club’s Aaron Powell. As soon as she moved to Grande Prairie, Powell started reaching out to her about athletes, volleyball, and tips on players to recruit.
“I feel like he understands what we’re doing at GPRC with our program and what we’re trying to do here. I trust that he’s going to send me athletes that want to work hard, are dedicated and motivated, and hopefully want to win a national championship.”
In all, Madison Chabot, Layla Hingley, and Gabby Capelle are locks. According to coach Hale-Miller, Aidan Armitage is on the radar but hasn’t made an official announcement yet.
For the four DCVC players moving on to the Wolves, Hale-Miller predicts they will have no trouble integrating into the team.
“It’s an advantage that they’ve all played together, but Maddie [Chabot] also played with some of our current players. Already having that connection is going to be huge. We can get past that awkward stage of getting to know people, and we can just get right to work.”
While the Wolves didn’t get to play games this season, Hale-Miller says the team had lots of chances to stay connected and stay in shape.
“We had a lot of Zoom meetings, and we still had access to our strength and conditioning coach, so we’re really fortunate for that. We also have a mental skills coach who we met with one on one in the first semester. In the second semester, we were able to do it as a department, so it’s been really fun to have all the athletes together, part of one session.”
The chance to look around and appreciate her surroundings was a welcome change to a head coach’s fast-paced schedule.
“I think as a coach, it gave me an opportunity to slow down and really take in every other program around me. I was able to learn more about my co-workers and the other coaches, and interact with the other athletes in our program.”
Thankfully, Hale-Miller’s recruiting hat has been hung up until next season. Now, she’s focused on getting back in the gym and preparing to play next season.