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Airport Shuttle Conversations: This Site and College Gymnastics Recruiting

Thursday, January 24, 2008 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 11:45 PM, under

Athens, GA (Jan 24, 2008) - Usually I drive to the airport, but for my trip to Orlando this week I took a shuttle. The conversation at the start of the trip back from Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport took on a sort of surreal quality. Somehow, I got into a conversation with a gentleman from Dallas, and it turned out he is a camera operator for the Dallas Cowboys. So naturally, I took the opportunity to tell him about this site. As I tell him, the young lady in the van looked up and said "I know that site!". I asked here how she found it. It turns out she was in Melbourne, Australia, missing seeing college basketball games on television. So a friend of hers in California sent her a link to the schedule posted on here and told her to "check out this neat site." So she did. Now I know who the person was from Melbourne that loaded the schedule page (yes, I review our log files)

As the ride started and continued, a conversation started with a woman traveling to Athens for Saturday's women's gymnastics meet between the University of Georgia and LSU (being shot live to tape for later broadcast on ESPN2). Her daughter is on the Lady Gymdogs and shared a story about how Georgia was able to recruit her daughter.

Suzanne Yoculan is the coach of the team and has built a tremendous program, winning the last three NCAA Championships. When recruiting this young athlete, she and assistant coach Jay Clark were the last coaches to visit her family. "Jay kept talking about the classes, the programs, the dorms, the quality of the school, and such," said this athlete's mother. "Finally Suzanne told Jay to be quiet, She looked at my daughter and said 'We're good, we win, and we have fun'." Apparently that sealed the deal for the athlete. When they left the house, the daughter looked at her mother and said "I am so going there!".

So for some athletes, it does not take a lot of smooth talking and promises. It just takes a few words from the coach of one of the top programs in the country. When Jay Clark takes the over the reins of the program when Yoculan retires next year, he will do well to remember this experience.

I learned that you never know where a conversation will lead, so I need to hone the 30 second "elevator pitch" about what we are trying to do with this site.

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