In this 2006 photo, York College’s Nate Lankford dribbles past Gallaudet’s Sekoe White. For Division III schools such as York College, there is
In this 2006 photo, York College's Nate Lankford dribbles past Gallaudet's Sekoe White. For Division III schools such as York College, there is no summer vacation for recruiting new athletes. (Daily Record/Sunday News - File)
Just because high-profile athletic programs such as Penn State, Florida, North Carolina and Duke garner a lot of attention during their respective recruiting seasons, schools of that level aren't the only ones with hectic schedules.

While some might think summer as a calm time at smaller colleges and universities, to York College men's basketball coach Jeff Gamber, summer is the time of year.

Between tournaments, showcases, shootouts and clinics, recruiting is virtually non-stop.

"July is the biggest recruiting month of the year," Gamber said. "In-season recruiting doesn't come close to July. Division III men's basketball recruiting is crazy. I like it. I enjoy watching kids play basketball."

It's not just men's basketball either.

Coming off a school-record 27-3 season and trip to the NCAA Sweet 16, Spartan women's basketball coach Betsy Witman has been busy.

With her incoming 2009-10 recruits ready to start school, she is trying to find players for the 2010-11 team.

"Just like all Division III coaches, we are all out at the AAU tournaments," she said. "Literally there is something every weekend to attend, whether an AAU tournament or a shootout or a team challenge."

Gamber said that July is an open month for Division I recruiting, which is a big reason there is so much activity during that span.

Division III doesn't have the same recruiting stipulations as D-I. With no athletic scholarship money to dole out, coaches do not have the same limitations, but Gamber said that isn't necessarily a good thing.

While he enjoys watching the action, Gamber sees the not-so-pleasant side of things the shootout-style events can bring.

"(Restrictions) would protect the kids more," he said. "The unfortunate side is there is a bunch of kids and their families spending way too much money trying to get their kids exposure ... When somewhere around 3 percent of high school basketball players will play college ball."

Preparing to enter his 33rd season as York's head coach, Gamber said there is a tremendous difference in recruiting today compared with years ago -- especially in Division III.

The competition in recruiting is intense.

"I think being a Division III school in Pennsylvania is pretty difficult, because you are always competing with the Division II schools," Witman said. "When I recruit I look for that Division II-level kid -- or even a small Division I kid."

Witman regularly goes up against the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference schools for players.

"It is difficult because they can give money and are less expensive to begin with," she said. "But you have to sell them what it means to be a Division III athlete -- the academic side and having more balance. If you want a private education, this is a great deal."

With 20 sports overall, York has coaches on-the-go throughout the summer.

In recent years, the men's soccer team has been consistently ranked in the NCAA top 10, as coach Mark Ludwig has built a national powerhouse.

Although he dropped his two-sport label this year when Ryan Weber was hired to coach the Spartans men's tennis team, Ludwig was still busy as always.

He prepared for his team's current trip to play in Italy and ran camps, which typically attract attention from athletes from across the nation.

Ludwig counted 250 high school-age kids that were in his camp from as far away as Minnesota and even Arizona. He views all as potential recruits.

One thing Ludwig has done exceptionally well is getting Division I players to either commit to -- or transfer to -- York.

"Part of the reason we have had that success is I keep a good relationship with players that choose not to come to our school," he said.

"I realize I am not going to get every student I recruit. If they are choosing another school, I leave it open that if things don't work out they can contact us. They have to call us."

Ludwig knows there are several reasons a Division I-caliber soccer player would come to York, and he recruits them with a "Why wouldn't they come?" approach.

"The excitement within the program ... the players speak with each other in club games and summer games and they contact us," he said. "Our style of play suits a lot of creative players. That is why they choose our school."

Although the season ended in May, summer is still a busy time for Spartan baseball coach Paul Saikia.

"Everybody thinks summer is time off. It is really not," Saikia said. "When you are in-season, everything gets put on hold. The thing about coaching is everybody is a little bit different."

Coaching a spring sport allows Saikia the chance to bring in an athlete that could start school in September and help the Spartans baseball team the very next spring. However, doing so comes with some challenges.

"You are trying to lock up what is left for this year and start on next year," he said. "Getting someone for the spring may be possible for us, but the biggest issue may be if housing is not available."

Saikia is also very receptive to athletes wanting to transfer to York, especially local ones that decided they want to return home to play and study.

Plus, some of York's coaches have other responsibilities.

Witman, and Saikia are both associate athletic directors with administrative responsibilities within the entire department. For example, Saikia handles travel arrangements and budgets for most of the sports.

Gamber also coaches golf at York, something he has done for several years. However, he said it is a totally different type of recruiting

"Golf it is usually a kid coming to talk to me about playing golf at York," he said. "That is about all I have to do. Recruiting in golf is almost like recruiting Division III basketball 40 years ago."

Still, Gamber has had great success with Spartan golfers, including winning the 2009 Capital Athletic Conference championship in April.

The bottom line: Downtime doesn't exist at any level of college athletics.


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