If you scroll through the Instagram recruiting account of All American Flames Gymnastix, a small gym in Port Huron, Michigan, you’ll notice something unusual. It’s recently posted the entire recruiting journey of one of its most prominent gymnasts—Hannah Scheible, a 4-star recruit in the class of 2023 and a three-time national champion, who’s the daughter of gym owners Melinda and Joe Scheible.
While most gymnasts and clubs remain private about their recruiting journeys, Scheible and her coaches decided to go the opposite way. They posted her entire recruiting experience on Instagram, revealing every official and unofficial visit she attended, until Scheible announced her commitment to Oklahoma last month.
Being open and public about Flames gymnasts’ recruiting journeys was floor coach Sarah Crowl’s idea, as part of a broader project to promote recruits on social media. “I saw social media as a place that I could help get our kids’ names, skills and accomplishments out there for [college] coaches all over the country to see,” Crowl said. “With our head coaches’ permission, I went ahead and started the Flames recruiting page a few years back when we had other athletes looking for college opportunities. We are from a small area, and I thought it was important to find ways to put our name and gymnasts out there.”
As recruiting begins years before the day gymnasts can start committing to college at the end of their sophomore year of high school, Crowl believes that social media is an important means of liaising with NCAA coaches and showing them athletes’ progress over time. “I think social media is a great way to reach coaches and colleges, which is why I started the account,” she explained. “I want to make sure that they see us regularly and know that our account is up to date. They can see every step in the process.”
Additionally, being open about the recruiting process is important for parents, too, who rely entirely on club coaches to determine their daughters’ future in college. “I think it’s important for our athletes and families to see the process and know that if this is their dream as well, we will do everything in our power to help them through it,” Crowl said.
Flames’ transparency about the whole process and the competence of the coaching staff means that gymnasts like Scheible are not worried about breaking NCAA rules when they post about recruiting online. “Hannah’s parents are the head coaches and gym owners, so the process is well known, and they trust that I am doing what is in her best interests,” Crowl said. “She, along with all of our kids, are super excited when they get to be on the Instagram.”
For Scheible, being on “the Instagram” was a meaningful way of sharing her recruiting journey with more than her family. “I wanted my friends and teammates to share this experience with me,” she said. “This process is very unique, and I wanted to share it with everyone who had made this opportunity possible.”
From the beginning, she and Crowl teamed up to post the best of her recruiting journey online, which made the experience unique for Scheible. “She has been a huge help during this recruiting process,” Scheible said of Crowl. “I don’t think my recruiting process would have been the same if it wasn’t for the time she spent recording and posting my videos, hunting down emails and tracking down coaching staff changes. I can’t thank her enough for the work she has done for me and our entire team.”
When Scheible was able to start committing to college last June, she was contacted by 25 different universities. “I had all my doors open at the beginning,” she explained. “Many schools came into my gym to watch practice during the following months. Many schools wanted me to come on an official visit after the very first phone call, but I wasn’t going to accept an official visit if I hadn’t already built a relationship with the coaching staff.”
After some time, she began to be contacted regularly by Kentucky, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan and Minnesota, so she decided to visit those five schools.
In the end, it was Oklahoma that stood out to her the most. “I knew right away that Oklahoma was the school I wanted to go to. It has always been a dream of mine to be a part of this amazing program,” she explained. “With both my parents coaching me, being able to work with a coaching staff that is similar to what I’m used to made it feel like home. I really liked what I saw during practice, and the atmosphere in the gym was exactly what I was looking for.”
After years of working together on her recruiting profile, Scheible’s commitment to the Sooners was a big source of pride for Crowl, too. “My feeling [is] that this kid deserved to go to her No. 1 choice,” she said. “She is the absolute perfect kid to coach. She is all in with everything she does, both in the gym and out of the gym. I was so happy for her that she made her dream come true.”
For Scheible herself, her commitment to Oklahoma was both the end of a long process and the beginning of something new. “I started this recruiting process when I was 13, right after I qualified to Eastern Nationals for the first time,” she said. “If I’d told my 13-year-old self that she would be going to Oklahoma, I would not have believed it.”
If she could speak to her 13-year-old self, she added, she would tell herself, “‘Continue to enjoy the journey. The fun part has just begun. You won’t believe how the story ends!”
Article by Talitha Ilacqua
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