The college recruiting process can be one of the most difficult times in a student athlete’s life because of the pressure put on their shoulders from every direction. It’s a decision that will have an impact on the rest of their lives and can single-handedly alter their entire future. Because it’s such a demanding period in the athlete’s life, LRT Sports lends a helping hand.
LRT Sports is a company that was established in 2014 and officially launched in December of the same year. LRT Sports’ goal is to educate and provide information to athletes during the recruiting process. The company’s main mission is to make it easier for athletes to make a decision based on stories told by people who have been through the same process.
Keirsten Sires, the Founder and CEO of LRT Sports, attended Skidmore College in New York from 2010-2014. Sires played tennis throughout her life and was recruited to Skidmore, where she would play her freshman year. After her first year, though, she made the decision to quit and walk-on to the soccer team, where she would play the next three years. During her senior year, Sires and three others developed the idea of LRT Sports.
“We started in 2014 because this was an idea for a class,” Sires said. “Basically, for my senior year, we had to come up with a business idea and develop it throughout the semester. We actually ended up getting great feedback. It got to a point where it was growing and growing. December of 2014 is when we actually launched the site. It was a very exciting time. Five years later, I’m very proud that we’ve successfully educated college athletes.”
Sires was able to help come up with the idea because of her own experiences at Skidmore.
“I was recruited for tennis and I played my freshman year, and me and my coach didn’t necessarily click,” she said. “After my freshman year, we won our league and after NCAAs were over, I decided to quit. I was a walk-on for the soccer team and played the next three years. I loved my coach and my team and everything.
“I think that has impacted my vision because I lived through a situation where there was a mismatch with something that I thought was going to be a perfect fit. There’s just such little information that you can know about each team and each coach until you’re already in it, which is too late. I realized that I could have benefitted from my own website at the time.”
LRT Sports came up with a rating system where athletes can review their current or former coaches by answering survey questions, and it results in a score ranging from 0-5. Other athletes are then able to search different conferences, schools and sports, and then read the reviews. It helps give student athletes a better understanding of what they may be getting themselves into.
“We want student athletes to be able to tell us how they feel; there’s just not a lot of open information about college athletics and recruitment,” Sires told The Echo. “It’s really hard to understand stories and journeys of college athletes because no one really wants to talk about it. People are starting to peel the onion with that because there’s a push for more awareness for mental health and better conditions for student athletes.”
One of the most common frustrations for student athletes during the recruiting process is the amount of pressure they receive from coaches to commit.
“I think it’s dangerous for the coach, the parent and the player involved,” Sires said regarding recruitment pressure. “There’s pressure that you need to sign now. It’s not a good decision because you’re pressuring a kid into one of the biggest decisions of their lifetime. It creates a high pressure situation kind of for no reason. I get that the coach is under a lot of pressure, but at the end of the day, when you’re dealing with a kid that is deciding what college they want to go to for the next four years, you kind of have to allow them some breathing room.”
LRT Sports has a score for 59 colleges and universities in the state of Michigan, including Eastern Michigan, which has a composite score of 4.2. Kemp Savage, the women’s rowing coach, was given a score of 4.5 with nine reviews, the highest score for a current Eagles coach.
“I think that 4.2 goes to show how the student athletes like the coaches that are being hired at the school,” Sires said. “So I’d like to attribute that to probably having a great athletic director who’s hiring really good coaches.”
Almost five years after launching LRT Sports, Sires is still fighting to make the decisions for student athletes a little easier and less confusing and stressful. She wants college athletes to reach their full potential and be successful on and off the playing field.
“This is going to sound a little cliche, but literally whatever you put your mind to, you can achieve,” Sires said “I did not think I would ever be in this situation, now running a website that is helping student athletes. Do all the small things to make sure you can achieve success because you can do whatever you want to.”