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Kentucky dominating 2012 recruiting scene

Published: April 5, 2011
As of this moment, the Kentucky women’s program could field a team using only its 2012 verbal commits.  

And we’re not talking about a harmless team, either.

Just in case you haven’t noticed, the Wildcats have successfully ransacked the recruiting season while acquiring players from Canada to Arizona.

It’s kind of remarkable, really; to think about the number of prospects in waiting who could not wait to cast their lot with Kentucky.

So what’s the secret? If we knew it would no longer be a secret – but that didn’t stop us from asking.

girls club soccer player Arin Gilliland
“Their motto is Finish, Family, Legacy,” said Brentwood SC midfielder Cailin Harrris, one of twelve 2012 graduates who have committed to Kentucky. “During my visit, they treated me and my family as if they had known us for years. No other school I went to really let me connect with the team and what life is like at the program.”

Harris’ sentiment is a popular one, shared by the likes of fellow 2012 commits Courtney Raetzman, Olivia Jester and Courtney Kobashigawa.

When players speak of their college visits to Lexington, they often reference the “Kentucky Soccer Family.”

That seems to be the atmosphere third-year coach Jon Lipsitz is trying to instill. But what’s making the players buy it?

It’s not as if the Wildcats have been wildly successful over the last two years; they did reach the SEC Tournament last season, but so did seven other SEC programs.

The way that Lipsitz explains it, Kentucky’s selling point is that it isn’t selling at all.  

“My job is not to convince people to come to Kentucky. It’s to be a total open book about who we are and let them decide what is best for them,” Lipsitz said. “There isn’t a right or wrong way to do things at a program, but to me it’s about fit. A visit to Kentucky involves us throwing a huge amount of information at a player so they know who we are.

“The rest is up to them.”

Of course, a decision becomes more difficult once you’ve become invested in a place and Kentucky does the ultimate job in strengthening the connection between player and school.

The current Kentucky team is a big part of the recruiting process, shadowing potential prospects on their visits and allowing them to observe practices and team events.

In addition to Lipsitz, who is a naturally affable and personal guy, assistant coaches like Michelle Rayner and Aaron Rodgers are just as vital, and Lipsitz credits them with helping to develop a contagious environment.

“The coaches are all great, and everything about Kentucky made me feel unbelievably comfortable, like I was already a part of the program,” said 2012 commit Kylie Morgan, who also has relationships with many of the recruits who will be joining her.

“Kentucky had me from the minute they started to recruit me.”

Kentucky 2011 Signees: Emma Brown, Haisha Cantave, Arin Gilliland, Molly Huber, Marissa Madison, Taylor Mogel, Stuart Pope, Kayla Price

Kentucky 2012 Commits: Kennedy Collier, Jackie Dallaire, Cailin Harris, Haleigh Hoff, Kelli Hubly, Olivia Jester, Courtney Kobashigawa, Maddie Lockridge, Kylie Morgan, Elaina Musleh, Courtney Raetzman, Cailey Warfel
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