What is it like to be a top wrestler entering his final year of high school? The recruiting process is “out of a movie” and a “whirlwind”, according to Harvard-bound Tyler Grimaldi, a 2013 state champion from Half Hollow Hills West High School, and his father Frank. With July 1 marking the beginning of the official recruiting period for the Class of 2014, we asked the Grimaldis to share some insights on what they experienced as Tyler made his college choice.
This is part 1 of a two-part article.
The story of the recruitment of Tyler Grimaldi goes back to the summer of 2011, when he competed at the Junior Freestyle National championships in Fargo, North Dakota between his sophomore and junior years.
Frank Grimaldi: At Fargo, Tyler was coached by Columbia’s Carl Fronhofer. Tyler decided to take an unofficial visit to Columbia during his junior year and after he finished second in the state that year , Coach Fronhofer talked to [Hills West coach Mike] Patrovich with a lot of interest. I was ecstatic; I thought it was the greatest thing in the world. I thought Columbia would be a great place for Tyler. I sat down with a friend and Tyler’s coaches and they were excited too. They told me it was awesome; amazing. But they also told me that we should go through the process fully. They said, ‘Just wait until July. A lot more will show interest then.’”
Grimaldi continued to bolster his resume, earning All-America honors at the NHSCA Junior Nationals in Virginia Beach where he took fourth at 160 pounds in April (2012). College coaches definitely took notice.
Frank Grimaldi: In Virginia Beach, it was the quarterfinal round and Tyler was about to wrestle. One of Tyler’s buddies was close to the mat and he was telling me that he almost got knocked over by someone trying to get to the match. It was really cool – because I saw who it was. It was [an Ivy league assistant coach], who had run almost across the entire convention center to watch Tyler. It was really cool to watch.”
July 1, 2012
Many know that July 1 is the big day when the first official calls and visits can occur. But the Grimaldis admitted that what happened during that 24 hours was beyond their imagination.
Tyler Grimaldi: It was totally different than I expected. I expected a couple of calls. What happened was straight out of a movie. You wake up and your phone doesn’t stop ringing. Some were from schools I e-mailed with before [Grimaldi said he e-mailed coaches as a junior to introduce himself to programs he might be interested in], but some were from schools and coaches I never even heard of or schools I had no idea had any interest in me. I really felt like I was in a movie.
Frank Grimaldi: It was a Sunday and it started at about 9:30 a.m. By the end of the night, Tyler had received more than 25 phone calls. It continued on Monday. It was a dream come true. I couldn’t imagine it. It was everything from DI powers to D3 schools to Junior Colleges. It got really, really crazy. Tyler talked to everyone and listened to what they had to say. We would sit down after each call and write down what the coach said, maybe do some research on the school.
The phone interactions continued throughout the summer. NCAA rules stipulate that schools can only call once every seven days and for the most part, that’s exactly what they did.
And It Continues . . .
Tyler Grimaldi: Most coaches would call every week on the dot – same exact time. I wasn’t used to it – all these people calling and pulling in different directions. They wanted to know what my thought process was and where I stood. It became stressful at times.
Frank Grimaldi: The first calls came on that first Sunday. Some continued to call on Sunday and some switched to another day, but it was pretty much every seven days throughout the summer.
It wasn’t just calls, however. The postal service saw a big increase of activity at the Grimaldi house as well.
Frank Grimaldi: The mailbox filled up almost every day and so did the school mailbox. It was like Christmas morning, every morning.
Tyler Grimaldi: There was a lot of mail, and to be honest, I read every single recruiting letter. It made me feel really good to have all those schools gunning for me. A lot of it was pretty basic, asking me to fill out questionnaires or information on the school. Some was more personal. Cornell’s stood out – they had some funny letters and some hand written, personal ones specific to me.
Frank Grimaldi estimated that around 75 programs contacted his son during the process, with at least 40 of them doing so by phone.
Tyler Grimaldi: It was pretty overwhelming at first. The big thing is that we didn’t close off anything early on. I wanted to hear what all the options were.
Frank Grimaldi: There were many different opportunities. One school said with the classes he was taking in high school, he could come in as a sophomore [academically] and wrestle four years and get a redshirt year. That way, he’d graduate in three years and have two years of grad school or med school paid for. Everybody was offering different things – there were different packages and scholarships. Some of that was incredibly tempting. In the end, I told Tyler that he needed to figure out what college he wanted to go to; what was right for him, and we’d figure out the next steps from there.
One of those key next steps was narrowing down the field to a handful of schools. How that occurred and the rest of Tyler Grimaldi’s recruiting story is at Link to Part 2 of the article.