Rode: Never ending recruiting paying off with early commitments

Recruiting has become a never-ending process.

The RDC teams spend close to 12 months of the year recruiting, not only for the following season, but years down the road.

It’s been that way for years. However, there seems to be one change in that players are committing earlier and earlier.

Several of the RDC teams have already received commitments for next year.

The hockey Queens have the most with three.

Head coach Kelly Coulter has forwards Karissa Cullum of the Yellowhead Chiefs in Manitoba and Janessa Fournier from the Swift Current Wildcats and defenceman Catherine Longchamps from the Rocky Mountain Raiders committed.

“We’re excited about adding three very good players, who are talented and have good character,” said Coulter. “Speaking with their coaches they’re all competitive kids, which is what we need to be successful.”

Cullum is five-foot-six and 125-pounds while Fournier is five-foot-four and 120. Fournier is third in team scoring with 10 goals and eight assists in 17 games. Longchamps, five-foot-nine, is originally from Quebec and lives in Airdrie.

The Queens will lose forwards Suzi Vanderlinde, Ashley Graf and Jessica Anderson and rearguard Rikki Smith to graduation.

“Several of the other girls are in transfer programs, so we could lose some of them … we’ll see,” said Coulter. “We could lose up to nine players so that would be a significant turnover.”

Queens volleyball head coach Chris Wandler has two players confirmed for next season in outside hitter Allison Blain of Innisfail and setter Kelly Heinemann of Harry Ainlay in Edmonton.

“We’re super excited about bringing in two quality kids,” said Wandler, who will lose hitter Miranda Dawe and setter Ashley Fehr but will have setter Chanelle Kayser back for a fifth year.

What he is looking for is middle blockers with Fauve Welsh and Hanna Delemont moving on.

“We do have two or three other girls who I expect to commit in the next week or so,” said Wandler.

Kings volleyball head coach Aaron Schulha also has a pair of additions confirmed in six-foot-four middle Mark DeWit out of Central Alberta Christian in Lacombe and six-foot-three outside hitter Steven Keating of Spruce Grove.

“We have a significant number returning next year, but it’s nice to get two quality players confirmed,” said Schulha. “I’ve had my eye on Mark since last club season and he received outstanding coaching at the club level and with Matt Keller coaching at CACHS.”

Keating last played for Grant MacEwan in the 2015-16 season.

“I remember him coming out of high school and he was a big-time leaper and still is. He plays senior men’s league in Edmonton and is now a bit older and smarter and will be a nice fit.”

The basketball Queens and hockey Kings have one committed player.

Basketball Queens head coach Ken King added highly recruited guard Paige Schultz of Saskatoon.

“She is a high-level guard and has been recruited by a number of programs,” said King. “She has a solid background and played in the Western Canada Games and the Canada Games.

“I’m not sure if she will be a true point guard or play some two (shooting guard) as well. I know we do have a solid ball control guard who plays solid defence and has a CIS (U Sport) attitude.”

The Queens have several openings next season as they lose guards Keitlyn Williams and Dedra Janvier.

King will now look to add to the front line.

“We need someone to play with Emily (White) if she returns,” added King, who will know shortly if the talented Danish forward will be back for a third season.

Hockey Kings head coach Trevor Keeper doesn’t expect a number of players to commit this early but did add forward Damien Kulynych of Calgary.

The 23-year-old Kulynych, five-foot-11, 201-pounds, came out of the Edge School in Calgary and played three seasons in the AJHL with the Calgary Mustangs, Bonnyville Pontiacs and Olds Grizzlys. He spent one year in the MJHL with the OCN Blizzard and Steinback Pistons then went to NCAA Division III for a season. He spent the 2015-16 season with the SAIT Trojans before transferring to RDC.

“He’s in business and will be three more years and decided not to play the second half this year and have three full years left,” said Keeper, who won’t complete his recruiting until the spring.

Basketball Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger is close on several players but nothing confirmed.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at drode@bprda.wpengine.com. His work can also be seen at Danny’s blog at rdcathletics.ca.

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