Welcome to Interview #88
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NCAA Division 2 Women’s Tennis Coach of Ashland University, Lexi Bolesky.
Lexi Bolesky has been the women’s tennis coach at Ashland University for one year. Before Ashland, Bolesky was at Division 1 Coastal Carolina for almost a decade; first as a player and then as an assistant coach. She worked her way up from a volunteer coach to become the assistant coach in 2014. Bolesky’s last three years at Coastal Carolina, the women’s tennis program had at least 16 wins.
What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your radar screen? What are the important steps for an athlete to get noticed by you?
The first step a possible student athlete should take to get on my radar is to send an email that shows interest in our university and tennis program. It is always refreshing to see a Prospective Student-Athlete (PSA) take the time to do some research about the university, our academic programs, and our tennis team. It shows initiative, rather than sending a blast email.
In the email it is beneficial to provide important information about themselves including; GPA, test scores, athletic performance, rankings & achievements, and a short highlight video that represents their skills/fundamentals and match play ability.
Last, it is a nice touch when they provide their upcoming tournament schedule.
Why should an athlete consider NCAA Division 2? What is distinctive about Division 2?
I believe athletes should not limit themselves to one particular division, but explore all possible options in the pursuit to find the right fit for their academics, athletics, social and financial needs. It is a huge opportunity to play college sport, and there are plenty of great programs in all the divisions. It is about finding the right program that works best for the individual student athlete.
What would a timeline look like for your recruiting of a typical player? What kind of communication do you send out and when?
My timeline for recruiting depends on the player. I am constantly on the look for talented potential players, and like most coaches I receive quite a few emails a day introducing players.
I first like to send an introductory email outlining what we have to offer here at Ashland University. Informing the PSA about our academic programs, campus and community, coaching goals & background, and our tennis team.
Depending on their responds and interest to the initial email, the next step is taking the time to get to know the recruit. This happens with phone and video calls.
Once I feel the recruit could be a good fit, I like to try to catch them in live action and see how they compete.
The final step is having the recruit take an unofficial or official visit to our campus, and having them immersed with our team.
How do you use social media when recruiting? What is your advice to recruits about their use of social media?
We have both a team Instagram and twitter account (au_tennis). We enjoy posting what the team is up too, and I believe it gives recruits, fans, and parents the opportunity to get an inside look at the team, facilities, and university.
My advice for recruits concerning their use of social media is to not post anything on their page that they will not be proud of in 5 years. Your social media page is a representation of yourself, and coaches will take the time to look what you are about. Some big turn off for me are foul language, inappropriate pictures, negative comments, and party photos.
What are a few of the most common mistakes that prospective-student athletes make in the college recruiting process?
The most common mistake that I have witnessed with PSAs in the college recruiting process, is communication. Not responding to emails, missing scheduled calls, and not following through with keeping in touch. A long gap in communication shows a lack of initiative and interest in the university and program. Once in college, team communication is important, and poor communication in the recruiting process represents a behavior that may continue once the recruit gets to college.
What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?
I believe the parent should be a supportive member in the recruiting process. Helping their son or daughter navigate through the process. Helping them come up with a list of questions for coaches, and to help narrow down their decision.
I always like to encourage recruits to make a pros and cons list for each university they could see themselves attending and discuss with their parents, but these discussions should be led by the recruit not the parent.
Could you share, in whatever detail you are comfortable, what the athletic scholarship break down looks like on your rosters?
Since we are Division 2 here at AU, we offer both academic and athletic aide, and for the right individual we are able to package these two together. There are also scholarship opportunities for our honors program and select majors.
How do your tennis players do academically? How are they able to balance athletics and academics? What are some keys to their success?
When you play college sport you are considered a student athlete. This means student first, athlete second. I am proud of how our team does academically, the ladies finished last semester with a 3.605 team cumulative GPA, and are looking to finish stronger this semester.
They all manage their academics with time management and prioritizing. As a team we have high academic standard, midterm reports, and our academic services do a great job of keeping our student athletes on track. Our academic services offer great advising, free tutoring, and a writing studio.
Our university’s motto is to put the accent on the individual. This can be scene with our smaller class sizes and availability to professors. It is not uncommon here at Ashland University for a student to be tutored or assisted by their specific professor. I believe the key to our success academically is the emphasis on education, and the desire of our young ladies to want to be successful.
What are the differences in playing tennis in high school and college?
I believe this depends on the individual and how much playing experience they have had while competing in HS. Meaning, their ability to play USTA/ITF tournaments outside of HS tennis season. There are a few differences that stand out to me:
- The commitment & dedication level
- Competitiveness among the players on the team
- Additional strength and conditioning
- Cheering for each other, team spirit, and team bonding.
What do you wish your incoming freshmen knew before they trained with you for the first time?
I hope my incoming freshmen and current players know how grateful I am for the opportunity to be their coach, and how much I care for their success. I feel very blessed to be able to do what I do, and it is my passion to be involved in the sport that has given me so much.
Can you share a creed, quote or philosophy you try to instill into your athletes?
As a player, I was able to have a wonderful college experience and my coach, Jody Davis, was a big part of why. He always held us accountable, pushed us to be our best on and off the court, and encouraged us to focus on our attitude and effort. Attitude and effort are two aspects that everyone should be able to control.
Learning from my coach and my playing experience, I now like to encourage my players to be their best concerning their attitude and effort with anything they get involved or participate in. Last, as a team we have a Win the Day motto!
Bonus Question: Is there anything important that you would like to share directly with high school athletes or tennis players in particular as they navigate the recruiting process?
Get an early start on the recruiting process, and give yourself plenty of time to find the best fit for you. There is a lot to be learned while competing in college sport, and it is a wonderful opportunity that you should look forward to.
Ask coaches tough questions, and really find out what will be important with your college experience including; academic interest and success, playing time & team level, team commitment, campus life, and what you need financially.
There are plenty of great universities and college athletic programs. It all about finding the right fit for you!
Lexi Bolesky is the women’s tennis coach at Ashland University. Before Ashland, Bolesky was at Division 1 Coastal Carolina for almost a decade; first as a player and then as an assistant coach. She worked her way up from a volunteer coach to become the assistant coach in 2014. Bolesky’s last three years at Coastal Carolina, the women’s tennis program had at least 16 wins.
For a Full Bio go to Ashland University Women’s Tennis.
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