ECNL Finals: VCU’s Lindsey Vanderspiegel recruiting in her own backyard
By Quinn Casteel
Richmond, Va. – First year VCU head coach Lindsey Vanderspiegel and her staff are enjoying the luxury this week of having the ECNL Finals being played just 15 miles up the road from their downtown Richmond campus.
While the tournament annually attracts college coaches from all over the country, including Big 12 schools like Oklahoma, SEC schools such as Florida, and others from every major conference, most out-of-towners are only able to send one or two coaches at the most to recruit.
Meanwhile, Vanderspiegel and her assistants are enjoying the advantage of being able to have more eyes in more places, along with other perks of having the ECNL’s biggest event in their own backyard.
“Between myself and my assistants that are here we try to cover every single team at some point during the tournament,” Vanderspiegel said. “If not a full game, then at least an entire half.”
“We usually go to all the ECNL events, but it’s nice having it here in Richmond in our backyard, it’s super easy.”
In addition to scouting every team at the tournament in the Champions League and North American League comprehensively, the VCU coaches have specific players they are keeping their eyes on this week.
“There’s kids that reach out to us via email a lot of times, and we try to do our diligence and watch them play, but we’re also looking at it as an open canvas and take notes on what we see,” Vanderspiegel said.
Like most coaches in attendance, the VCU staff is keeping closest tabs on the U16 age group because of the continually heightening competition in the college recruiting circle. Because the recruiting process now begins at such a young age, even U14 and U15 players will receive serious attention from colleges at the ECNL Finals.
“The 2014 class is mainly in the U17 age group and there are still a few very good players uncommitted, but for the most part they’re already decided,” Vanderspiegel said.
Although there is little to no communication between coaches and potential recruits at the ECNL Finals due to NCAA rules, the proximity of the event to VCU could theoretically serve as a campus tour for interested players. Having the Finals in Richmond gives players from all over the country familiarity with the area, which Vanderspiegel said could be advantageous in a recruiting pitch.
“You definitely want to make sure you take care of your own backyard, and we’re very familiar with Virginia teams and anyone in Region I territory,” she said. “We also try to reach out to West Coast teams and other areas because there’s very good competition out there as well.”
Saturday is an off-day for the ECNL Finals, as the 70 teams in attendance prepare for the last two days of the tournament where National Championships will be decided on Sunday and Monday.