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Coach Sharon Tomlinson: Recruiting for Small Schools

Coach Sharon Tomlinson: Recruiting for Small Schools
July 26, 2022 | | 5 min read

On the first call, I talk very little about basketball. It is more about our mission, vision, and what we believe in.

Coach Sharon Tomlinson has been coaching for 4 years. 3 as an assistant and 1 as a head coach this past season. Coming out of high school, Coach Tomlinson was and still is extremely passionate about her faith and basketball. Ultimately, this is what led her to decide to go to Emmaus Bible College to play basketball and further her education. During her freshman year and half of sophomore season, Coach Tomlinson was firing on all cylinders. She was one of the key contributors in the team’s on the court performance and felt like she was playing some of the best basketball of her career. All of a sudden, Coach Tomlinson went down with an injury. After an MRI, it was discovered that she had torn her ACL. 

This took her a long time to even get back on the court. On top of that, Coach Tomlinson felt that she was not able to ever play on the same level as before her injury. However, through it all, her head coach constantly reminded her of what mattered. That her worth and value to the program stretches far beyond her stat line. Throughout her college career, Coach Tomlinson was able to build a strong relationship with her head coach. Consequently, after graduating she was able to be the assistant coach for 3 years. This past season was her first year as the head coach for Emmaus Bible College’s Women’s Basketball Team!

Today’s All In Takeaways is centered around recruiting for small schools. 

All In Takeaway #1: Outreach

Being a smaller school, Coach Tomlinson has to make sure to spend a lot of time on outreach since there are not masses of athletes knocking at their door. Part of this outreach involves building relationships with various high schools throughout the Midwest. Thus, she is able to get in contact with many athletes before they graduate high school to see if they would be a good fit. The other side of the outreach lies spending multiple hours a week connecting and contacting different players through email, social media, or a phone call. 

For example, in the prior weeks, her coaching staff sent out 8,000 emails. Out of all the emails sent, they were able to get in contact and identify 14 girls who they see as a possible fit for the program. Although outreach can be time-consuming, Coach Tomlinson knows how important it is to get well-rounded athletes to join the program. Coaches, what is your outreach method in recruiting for small schools? How do you find the athletes that you are looking for? 

All In Takeaway #2: The Mission of the Program 

After Coach Tomlinson is able to get in contact with an athlete who appears to be a good fit, the first step is to set up a call. As indicated in the headlining quote of this blog, this call has VERY little to do with basketball. Instead, it will be about the mission and vision of the program. Being a faith-based institution, one of the requirements that they have in order to enroll at the school is to be a born-again believer. Thus, that is one of the talking points of the call. Before Coach Tomlinson even thinks about the athlete’s abilities on the floor, she wants to ensure that they are a good fit for the team culture. Coaches, what does your early on recruiting process look like in recruiting for small schools? 

All In Takeaway #3: Building Relationships

Sometimes coaches can become too focused on getting new recruits that they forget to also focus on keeping the athletes they currently have. Coach Tomlinson focuses on both. Ultimately, this is done through building meaningful relationships with her athletes stretching beyond just basketball. Coach Tomlinson always wants her athletes to know that if they are struggling, she is there for them. Coaches, are you intentional about building lasting relationships with your athletes? 


Coach Tomlinson is getting ready to enter her second season as the Head Coach for Emmaus Bible College’s Women’s Basketball Team! Last season, they ended with 13 wins, 2nd place in their conference, and 1st in their region. Next season, the team has its goal set on making it to nationals. Go Eagles!

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