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WATCH: Michigan State football is known for its recruiting power: here’s a behind-the-scenes look

Ellie Bednarz

WKAR Current Sports reporter Ellie Bednarz has always been an MSU football fan. This year, she got more involved with the program, hired as part of their recruiting team.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Printing out labels for holographic credentials. Stapling itineraries together. Running errands for snacks and balloons. These are just normal tasks I’ve had in recent months.

For those of you who don’t know me, except my mom and dad of course, my name is Ellie Bednarz. I’m a senior studying Journalism at Michigan State University. I also work for the Michigan State football team, in the recruiting department.

It has always been my dream to have some sort of connection with Michigan State football. I grew up watching MSU football, loving how much Coach Mark Dantonio led his team. No matter what I was doing, every Saturday in the fall, I was excited to see how the Spartans would play. The history of MSU football means a lot to me, so I was shocked to be able to interview for the position I currently have. It never crossed my mind that working for the team was possible. Sometimes it feels like dreams are too far-fetched.

But once I saw the posting on Twitter, of all places, I thought to myself, why not?

Flash forward to now, on a day-to-day basis I update what is called the Spartan Wire, tracking recruits’ activity with offers, visits, and anything quotable from publications. This is not necessarily a hard task, but it's pivotal information for all of our coaches to have on their desk. I work on small tasks throughout the week, and some home football games this year.

Working at football Saturday’s gave me a great opportunity to connect with coaches, recruits and their families. I wanted to give these recruits an unforgettable trip, and make sure they remember Michigan State when it comes time for them to find a school to play football. Recruiting is a long process for most players, so we always need to make sure we’re making connections that can last for a few years.

Although hosting 50-60 recruits and families was no small task, things got easier for me throughout the year. We always make sure the recruit has what they need, whether it be food, drink, photos, or the opportunity to talk to their position coach. When it got to the colder months, we always made sure everyone was well accommodated in this Michigan weather by giving them over-sized winter jackets.

No matter the outcome of the game, I made sure to build connections. It became easier for me to talk to recruits and talk about not just football, but real life. At the end of the day, they are just teenagers. It was interesting to find out why they are interested in Michigan State and why they would fly in just to see us play. Every recruit had a different story as to why they would come visit, but it was exciting to see them smile once they left.

It made me feel like we did our job.

Hosting recruits for a game visit starts on Friday, where we set up the north end zone of Spartan Stadium. We have a large event space with tables that we prepare with decorations and tablecloths. Inside the stadium we rip off pieces of painter’s tape and put it on in each seat that has a ticket for our recruits. The tape helps make it easier to each visitor to find where they will be sitting. Everything on Friday is simple prep before the big game.

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Saturday is game day. We cater lunches, and once recruits walk in the door, we drop everything and make sure their trip is everything they hoped for. Some fun activities we own are the 360 camera, a PlayStation3 with the newly revamped college football game, Jenga, UNO, and cards. We observe the Spartan Walk and head to the sidelines to see warmups. Recruits take this opportunity to talk to position coaches and Coach Mel Tucker. From there we sit in the stadium and cheer for MSU.

Although this season did not end the way our staff and players expected it to, I had an eye-opening experience into how a football season works behind the scenes. It’s easy for fans to watch our 12 games and pretend they know exactly what is happening outside of Saturdays.

If there’s anything that I can take from this job experience, it’s the feeling that I can work for a professional sports team. This job also helped me realize that I could go into more of a public relations role for a future career. Now that I have done scouting and recruiting, there are specific jobs for sports teams that I feel more confident in applying for.

A role that I wanted to do just for fun, has turned out to be one of my favorite college experiences. The same players I used to watch on Saturday’s stood right in front of me. Alumni Naquan Jones, Kenny Willekes, Kenneth Walker III, Trae Waynes, Chris Frey, Shalique Calhoun, and Brian Lewerke, just to name a few. I also met Olympic gold medalist Nick Baumgartner, and let me tell you, that snowboarding gold medal was a beauty. You never know who you get to meet on the job.

We have a phrase in the recruiting office that resonates with me: “Recruit or die”. Of course, this is satire, there’s nothing to actually die over. But recruiting is what I’ve become fond of, and I want to do my best for Tucker. At the end of the day, I just have to “Keep Choppin’”.

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