Joshua Chang | Contributing PhotographerVolleyball
Yelin hopes to see better facilities, attract recruits to Syracuse
Syracuse’s locker room is no bigger than a bedroom, yet 12 girls are expected to share the space.
It looks like a high school locker room, not a locker room fit for Division I volleyball players.
Forty-seven years have passed and not a single change has been made to their locker room, head coach Leonid Yelin said. It looks exactly the same.
“When you’re recruiting a 17-year-old kid, do you think they are going to remember what the coaches said?” Yelin said. “Not usually.”
Yelin believes that to secure top recruits, he needs better facilities. When prospective players come on official and unofficial visits, the one thing that they will take away is what the facilities look like, not what the coaches have to say, Yelin said.
“I think our school needs to give something to the program to attract recruits,” Yelin said.
For Syracuse to get to its locker room, the Orange must first pass through the away team’s. It is behind a small, worn-out door on the side of the away team’s locker room.
“It is kind of awkward because we have to walk through the other team to get to our locker room,” setter Erica Handley said. “It is a little small but everyone wants a nice locker room.”
Outside hitter Nicolette Serratore is less concerned about the facilities. She said she came to Syracuse because of the program, but she still feels the effects of SU’s unusual situation.
“It could be uncomfortable,” Serratore said. “But when we walk through we apologize and everyone’s very understanding.”
But there are plans in place to improve this situation, Yelin excitedly explained.
He has met with members of SU Athletics and has seen the plans to renovate the locker rooms and the offices. There is a plan in place to hopefully get about 3,500 seats into the Women’s Building and have central air.
Yelin is hopeful that these changes can cause a “wow factor” for visiting recruits.
“When you bringing them in, and they are not saying wow, basically you know what that means,” Yelin said.
At Louisville, Yelin built one of the most dominant programs in the Big East. Being used to a packed house game in and game out, he is becoming frustrated.
His solution for now is to bring in international players who don’t care as much about the facilities as Americans.
“They are going to come because of me,” Yelin said. “They aren’t going to look at name (of school).”
Playing in the Carrier Dome, Yelin said, can help, too.
Fans are a big part of why kids come to a school, and Yelin believes that having nicer facilities, like the Dome, is a step in the right direction to draw more fans to the games.
“There is no such thing as a universal pill,” Yelin said. “There are a lot of factors. But (are facilities) a big factor? Yes, yes it is a big factor.”
After Sunday’s game, Yelin said that it is a vicious cycle. To win games, he must bring in top-tier recruits. But to bring in top recruits, he has to win games and have nicer facilities.
Serratore understands that, too. To be afforded luxuries, such as a nice locker room, the Orange must prove its worth.
“We need to be winning,” she said. “I am not going to say we deserve what we have right now, but we need to show our school that we are worth the investment first.”
Contact Eric: firstname.lastname@example.org
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