The success of college programs relies heavily on the quality of players recruited, recruitment is a major challenge that the TRU WolfPack program deals with annually.
Success in the college sporting arena relies on having sufficient funds, excellent resources and chief among them, excellent recruitment. Without good players, a program will struggle to flourish.
Over the years the WolfPack programs have improved substantially. Making the playoffs once seemed like an improbable task, but now it has become a very realistic expectation.
All WolfPack programs have improved to a large degree but none so more than the WolfPack men’s soccer program.
In 2017 the men’s soccer team qualified for the playoffs for the first time in history, they also distinguished themselves at nationals, claiming a bronze medal.
The TRU team had a lot of talent in the ranks from the likes of Mitch Popadynetz, Josh Banton and Anatoli Leveille just to name a few. The program recruited well for the 2017 season and it showed with the results on the pitch.
The head of the soccer program, John Antulov was gracious enough to sit down with The Omega to discuss his recruitment policies.
Antulov is an accomplished coach who was a head coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps Regional Academy in Kamloops and a former player with SFU and the Vancouver Whitecaps.
“The biggest thing is a player who can do both, someone who obviously can be a good student but also excel on the field,” said Antulov.
Antulov also stated that it is more likely that someone who has always had a great track record in school will continue to do so in the future.
In cases like that, recruitment will more likely come down to other factors such as discipline and on the field performances.
“The second thing is what you can do on the field, there are a lot of different factors, attitude, mindset and fitness,” remarked Antulov.
Antulov also explained that a key factor is making sure the player suits the style of the team, every successful team must have an identity and TRU is no different.
Some teams play counter-attacking soccer, others are possession oriented, which is why it’s crucial that the Wolfpack recruits a player who fits their style so that the team can continue to succeed and win.
Discipline is a major factor in recruitment and Antulov stated that it’s important to bring in players with good discipline but, that it is also about helping players that have discipline issues cope better.
“We have a couple of players that are fairly physical, and we have really worked hard on helping them with discipline. We don’t want them suspended,” Antulov said.
Antulov said the hardest part of recruiting is selecting the right player as things may not be as straightforward as expected.
“Sometimes you think you have a player who fits the program but once they get here it’s completely different,” he said.
Antulov stated that being in Kamloops maybe harder for some players, largely because the player will be away from home and they may not be used to life in Kamloops and its environment.
Success is beneficial to a program because it creates more awareness. With the run TRU had at nationals Antulov stated that the number of students wanting to come to TRU has increased greatly.
Antulov made it very clear that the team culture is all about helping recruits who maybe struggling in certain aspects of school life.
“It’s the culture we are trying to build, we have guys who had a tough time in their first semester getting help from players that are good in school,” Antulov said.
Antulov went on to conclude that the program’s focus on recruitment is not just about improving the player but developing a great human-being.