Veterans guide recruits' choices

Peer mentors attract future teammates

Slater Doggett (#16) was heavily influenced by Gaels Darcy Greenaway and Warren Steele.
Slater Doggett (#16) was heavily influenced by Gaels Darcy Greenaway and Warren Steele.

For every potential recruit there are certain similarities — a standard campus visit, a meeting with coaches and an exchange of highlight tapes between player and coach.

But for many Gaels, what draws them into committing to the program are the veterans they meet.  

When Mike Shoveller was in his first few weeks at Queen’s, he met with former Gael Matt Kerkhoff.  

“He was always open to talk, and to this day, is still one of the nicest guys I know,” said Shoveller, now in his third year on the men’s basketball team.

These introductions often happen on players’ first visit as a recruit, he said. 

His early friendship with Kerkhoff, who was in his second year at the time, helped him get accustomed to the program. Both men hail from sparsely populated places — Shoveller from Arnprior, Ontario, and Kerkoff from Moosomin, Saskatchewan — the two were friends instantly, with Kerkoff serving in a mentor role. 

“It was a pretty easy choice,” Shoveller said about picking Queen’s, praising the school’s academic and athletic personal fit as the biggest factor for his commitment.

Last year, Shoveller was asked to return that favour. He was tasked with taking in Vincent Wood — who ended up playing in this past season — on his recruiting tour. Shoveller said athletes are paired with players the coaching staff thinks would fit well with each other.  

For others, playing for Queen’s athletics was always on their mind and the draw of playing with past teammates was the push they needed.

Since his time with the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, men’s hockey’s Slater Doggett has planned to come play for Queen’s.  He began taking first-year courses part-time in 2013 to acclimatize himself to the university — two years before he’d begin playing for the men’s hockey team.

Doggett’s former junior teammates and current Gaels Darcy Greenaway and Warren Steele played a big part in giving him the finer details of the program. This system of giving advice continues to this day.

The Gaels’ coaching staff often asks current players to figure out which players they think he should target, such as former teammates and opponents.

“Our guys are pretty honest on whether they think a guy should be a recruit or not,” Doggett said.

Doggett said monthly chats with the coaching staff and his future teammates convinced him to commit to Queen’s during his final junior season.

He said hockey is unique to other sports in terms of recruiting at the university level. Most players come in at age 20 or older, and typically don’t have the experience of living in university residence and go straight into student housing.

Because of this, the incoming recruits often are well-associated with their teammates before the season starts. 

Football linebacker Michael Moore had a different experience than most — coming to Queen’s from Andover, Maryland, where he completed his final year of high school.

Moore settled in nicely, becoming a team leader in his first season. After earning a starting role as a rookie in the 2014-15 season with the Gaels, Moore was selected as a team captain this past season as he was fifth on the team with 33 tackles — which ranked 15th  in the OUA.

This year Moore’s been tasked with having recruits occasionally stay at his house in an attempt to draw them to the school. One player he hosted has already unofficially committed to Queen’s for next season.

“I’ve hosted a few recruits, it’s fun,” he said. “That’s when they find out if they want to be here or not.”

He added that the varsity athlete lifestyle can only really truly be shown by someone who’s living it.

“Coaches can only do so much,” Moore said. “It’s important that a recruit meets players on the team because they kind of give you a different perspective of what coaches can’t really show you.”

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