Tommy Canale had plenty of experience recruiting when he served as the IVCC men’s basketball coach.
Now, he’s using that knowledge and experience to help student-athletes across the country find college scholarships.
After leaving IVCC, Canale moved to Las Vegas where he works for Recruit Look, a national recruiting service.
The NewsTribune caught up with Canale to discuss his current job, advice for athletes looking to get recruited and IVCC athletics.
NT: What is your job now?
Canale: I have multiple titles. I am the national scout director and scout development coordinator for Recruit Look and co-founder of the Recruit Look Junior Golf Tour in Las Vegas, Colorado and southern California.
NT: What are your duties with Recruit Look?
Canale: On the national scout director side I go out and scout high school athletes, do an evaluation process and interview process and decide if they’re someone we want to bring into our system. If so, they have the decision to make on whether they want to make the investment into Recruit Look to have us help them find a college scholarship. We have a 95 percent success rate in getting a minimum of two years of college paid depending on athletic ability, test scores and GPA.
On the scout development side, anytime we bring a new scout into the organization, I help with the interview process, the training process and follow up process to help scouts get on the ground and running in their particular area. Outside of that it’s networking with high school, travel and college coaches.
NT: Are there any sports you specialize in or is it all sports?
Canale: Recruit Look does all sports. I do 10 myself. Each scout has to have a sport in the fall, winter and spring season. I’m going to be knocking down to eight sports in four or five months because it’s a lot.
NT: How did the golf tour come about?
Canale: I started getting into golf when I got out to Vegas. There was nobody doing golf at the time. I was doing some traveling to find the golfers. I met a gentleman by the name of Paul Brown, who is my other co-founder. He was running a small tour at the time and we decided to take over his tour and change it to the Recruit Look Junior Golf Tour and make it a college development tour for ages 9-18. In the summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day, we allow players up to 22 for college kids who are in the area or back home from school looking for tournaments. This is our fourth year doing it. Play a tournament every month. Some months we have two tournaments. We travel to different golf courses all over Vegas and the surrounding area.
NT: Do you ever miss coaching?
Canale: Yeah, I do. I get asked that all the time if I’m ever going to get back into coaching because I do a lot of stuff with basketball. Coaches ask me all the time, ‘Why aren’t you coaching? You know too much about the game.’ I do miss coaching. The game has changed a little bit since I’ve been out of it for a while with the way you have to coach the new generation of kids.
NT: What advice do you give athletes looking to get recruited?
Canale: It depends on the sport but the main things are grades aren’t given the importance that they should. We won’t touch a kid who doesn’t have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA. I’ve seen a lot of kids who are 2.8, 2.7, 2.5, 3.0, 3.1 who we’ll pass on because they’re too borderline academically and we can’t find them academic money at the next level. Grades are really important. They have to have some openness to leave the nest. A lot of kids want to stay close to home and that causes a problem. We have over 1,100 coaches in our network nationwide and even schools in Canada, so we start helping a family, it could be on the other side of the United States and some of the kids don’t want to go that far. That’s an issue we come across on whether or not we’re going to allow someone to enroll if they don’t have that kind of open mindset to leave a little bit.
You have to be dedicated to your sport. You have to practice outside your sport. I do seminars all over the place. One of the things that’s big is what are you doing outside your spot. A lot of kids have private lessons — golf lessons, baseball kids have a hitting instructor, catching instructor, throwing instructor, they have a trainer, they have a sports psychologist. Some of these families have five or six things going for one kid, and I tell them, ‘You’re doing that but so are 1,000 other kids who have the same tools, so what separates you?’ How do you make yourself stand apart from somebody else. It could be grades. It could be a relationship with a coach. It could be a lot of different things but they have to have a separation factor.
NT: Do you take kids from all over the country?
Canale: I’ve helped kids from Dwight and Minonk. I just talked to a family from Ottawa who reached out to me. I have kids from Florida and Texas. We have them all over the United States. We have 19 or 20 scouts nationwide, but whatever areas we don’t have a scout in, as national scout director I cover that area.
NT: How early do kids have to get into the recruiting process?
Canale: It depends on your sport and athletic ability. I have a young lady who is a golfer and her mom and dad signed her up with me in sixth grade even against my advice. We’ve taken some seventh graders before because they’ve been so far ahead of the curve. We take a lot of eighth graders and a lot of ninth graders. We for the most part will not take a senior unless it’s an exceptional case or a female golfer. We can find female golfers scholarships. I can probably find one right now for someone who wanted to go to school in two weeks. Seniors are way too late for us to get involved. The ultimate time is that freshman year or summer before your freshman year depending on your sport. If it’s a baseball kid you’re probably looking after first semester freshman year going into your freshman season. If they’re a middle of the road kid who are going to blend in then it’s probably sophomore year for baseball and basketball can be sophomore year.
NT: Do you keep up with IVCC athletics anymore?
Canale: I do. I follow them all the time. I’m always looking to see what coach (Chris) Herman is doing with basketball. I followed (former women’s basketball) coach (Tom) Ptak’s teams. I know Corey (Tomasson) had a nice run in softball as well. I haven’t followed (baseball coach) Jason’s (Goode) teams as much as I would have liked. The spring is a really busy time for me so I kind of lose track, but I follow as much as I can.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.