Behind the Mic: Recruiting – At Its Worst

The word “recruiting” in high school sports is certainly a derogatory term.  Schools who feel victimized believe another institution has invaded their territory to grab one of their finest athletes in order to make their own team stronger.  Both public and private schools have been accused of “recruiting”.  Private schools can be a bit more open with the practice because, by their very nature, they “recruit” in order to populate their institutions.  They have the advantage of bringing students in from public school territory and, often, enhancing their athletic teams at the expense of a home district.  There’s no blame here.  It’s just the way it is and the governing body of high school athletics, the PIAA, has decided it is not worth the effort or the expense to dispute these transfers in court.  It is very hard to prove allegations especially when parents choose to send their child to a private school or they find a way to establish residence in a geographical area.  “Recruiting” occurs and even though it is disdained, very little can be done to stop it.

This leads me to focus on two private schools in Philadelphia – Neumann-Goretti and Archbishop Wood.  It would not be a stretch to say these schools are two of the nation’s leaders in recruiting athletes.  Neumann-Goretti is currently ranked #1 in the nation in girls’ basketball.  Let that sink in – the very best in the nation!  They are currently beating their opponents by an average of 45 points a game.

Archbishop Wood has perennially been one of the best girls’ basketball teams in the state and in the nation.  Wood won three straight state championships from 2009-12 and has been to the state finals in three of the last four years.  They do not like the spotlight shifting to Neumann-Goretti. So the two are caught up in a recruiting firestorm!

One of the best players on the Goretti team is Christina Aborowa, a senior who came from Ondo, Nigeria.  On the day in November that Aborowa signed her letter of intent to play at the University of Texas, an email addressed to the Texas coach and athletic director arrived alleging that Aborowa was in the country illegally and that she was older than the age listed.  The email also alleged that her teammate, Felicia Aiyeotan, a 6’9” junior, was illegal and overage.  The email was sent with a fictitious name and was also supposedly sent to other colleges to discourage them from recruiting Aiyeotan.  Goretti was accused of cheating and the email implied that the FBI was looking into the case.

A Philadelphia newspaper, Philly Voice, investigated and concluded the email came from the Archbishop Wood head coach.  He had issued a “no comment” response when asked about the allegations, but has since resigned according to the Philadelphia Daily News.  The Archdiocese investigated the paperwork on the two girls and concluded that the girls are here “legitimately”.

The Bethlehem Catholic girls’ basketball team, a target in the past of recruiting allegations themselves, is in the midst of trying to win their third straight District XI basketball championship.  They are a very talented team.  State rankings have the Golden Hawks ranked as high as #2 in the state.  There is a good possibility if they are successful in the state playoffs that they could eventually meet up with Archbishop Wood, the #1 ranked team in AAA.  The Hawks could be problematic for Wood, but certainly not as problematic as the firestorm facing the Archbishop program at the moment.  Stay tuned!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. I sat in the stands this past Sunday for the Lafayette at Lehigh game. I rarely sit in the stands, since I can usually sit at the press table, even when I am not broadcasting.  My wife and daughter wanted to attend the game, so I sat with them.  It did not take me long to realize how bad some fans can be and the vitriolic nature of their disdain for another team or player. I don’t get it.  I’ll take press row seats anytime.
  2. One of the positive developments sitting in the stands Sunday was getting to know the parents of Dan Trist, Lafayette’s outstanding center and the leading scorer in the Patriot League. Even though Dan’s a senior, I had never met his parents because they were watching Dan’s first LIVE Lafayette game.  Clive and Helga Trist live in Sydney, Australia and have only been able to watch Dan play through our broadcasts on the internet.  They were sure having fun.  Every time Dan scored, Helga waved a full-sized Australian flag!
  3. I attended Wilson High School and played football, basketball, and baseball. I grew up being exposed to some of the great feats of Wilson Warrior athletics.  An anniversary of one such feat occurred this past week. On February 24, 1955, Wilson’s Cal Vogel scored 90 points in one basketball game and tied the state single-game record of Wilt Chamberlain.  Wilson won 95-52 over Pen Argyl.  Amazing!
  4. Toot! Toot!  That’s the sound we announcers make in jest to one another when we are praising ourselves.  I am going to do just that.  I watched our District XI wrestling coverage on Saturday night.  Scott Barr and Jim Best are outstanding announcers.  They are our RCN experts and they are the best.  Toot!  Toot!
  5. I saw J. K. Simmons’ Academy Award winning performance in Whiplash recently. He plays a music teacher who abuses all of his students, and one, a young jazz drummer, even more so.  It can be uncomfortable to watch.  It reminded me of some coaches I have seen over the years.
Gary Laubach About Gary Laubach

Gary began his broadcasting career with Twin County in 1972. Twin County eventually became C-TEC and then RCN. Gary holds the dual role of Director of Media Services and Sports Director/Broadcaster. He currently broadcasts about 140 sports and entertainment broadcasts a year, and oversees the scheduling of all sporting events for RCN.

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