SixPack’s recruiting punch
Dale Ann Melnick has seen high performance sports and scholarship recruitment from every angle.
As an athlete, the London native received NCAA Division 1 scholarship offers from Ohio State, Florida State and Arizona before ultimately choosing the University of Georgia, where she was a member of a hall-of-fame team that captured a pair of SEC (Southeastern Conference) championships. After red-shirting her third year at Georgia, she returned to Canada and helped York win two Ontario University Athletics gold medals and one silver.
Following a professional beach volleyball career that saw her compete at FIVB and world championships, she moved into the coaching ranks. She had coaching stints with Western, Guelph and Brock at the intercollegiate level and at the regional, provincial and national level with the Ontario Volleyball Association and Volleyball Canada. With the latter organization, she was the head coach of Canada’s Youth team that won a silver medal at NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation) in 2018 and qualified for worlds for the first time in 30 years. She would serve as an assistant coach at U19 World Championships in 2019.
Despite her background as an athlete and in coaching, Melnick never considered pursuing a career in sports recruiting until after NORCECA championships.
‘Sitting on the plane coming home from NORCECAs talking to one of my athletes who was in Grade 11 at the time. I asked her if she was getting ready to commit’ and she said, ‘Oh what a nightmare.’ Her dad piped in and said, ‘Yep. I paid some U.S. recruiting group $5,000 U.S. for recruiting support and we got nothing.’
Melnick was shocked at both the cost of the service and the fact they had had hired an American recruiter. She then asked what they didn’t like about the recruiter and the athlete answered that the recruiter ‘knew nothing about her academically or as an athlete’. The athlete was being sent an endless parade of information about random schools. None of which met her criteria.
That’s when SixPackRecruitingSports was born. In November 2018, the initial focus was solely on volleyball players. SixPack featured a website designed by her step-daughter’s company, alpakabranding.com.
Melnick quickly landed four or five clients in Ontario and then put the business on the backburner while she served as an Assistant Coach at the world championships. She didn’t want there to be any conflicts between her recruiting and her role with Volleyball Canada.
“When I got on the plane to head to Egypt in August, I swear I had 10 new clients before the plane took off. I put SixPack back on social media and started talking to a few athletes. While travelling in Europe following Worlds, she met with several athletes over Facetime building relationships so when the athletes were ready, SixPackRecruiting could take over.
Since the SixPack reboot, she now has upwards of 100 active clients across Canada and the United States. She has even started to garner clients in New Zealand and has widened her horizons to include other sports.
“I had a parent of a client in B.C. whose friend’s son was a basketball player and he asked me if I could recommend someone. I said, ‘Yes. Me.’ Recruiting is recruiting and how you approach a coach and a university is all the same even if the sports is different.”
Her clientele now includes men’s and women’s basketball, men’s volleyball, soccer, tennis and of course beach and women’s volleyball athletes.
Melnick is helping SixPack clients to not just ‘get noticed’, but to land athletes scholarships at either NCAA, CCAA or USPORTS programs. She has even supported athletes who are looking to transfer.
‘Everyone thought I was only NCAA but why would I do that? We have amazing schools in our backyard’.
The cost for recruiting support depends on several factors including: graduating year; the support needed; and, most importantly, how much 1 on 1 is required? A basic package includes email marketing campaign, website marketing and promotion, SAT tutoring and video. One price, flat fee, no renewal.
“If your son or daughter is in Grade 9 and they want to start the recruiting process because they play an early recruiting sport, they will never pay another dime once they sign up,” she said.
Melnick uses her experiences to direct athletes in the best direction.
“After 20-plus years of coaching and identifying kids, I think I have a pretty good gauge on where they would fit. Some people don’t like to hear that but it makes it easier in the long run for them and we find them the best spot,” she said. “There is absolutely a school for everybody based on their academic success and athletic talent.
“I am not pedalling false hope. I won’t take them if I don’t think I can support their process.”
Some American recruiters are now charging upwards of $8,000 U.S.
“They pretty much have to guarantee a scholarship and I will not guarantee a scholarship. I will guarantee that you will get noticed,” she said. “You might be the best on your club team but nobody knows who you are. This is where someone like me comes into play.”
Her goal is to take the pressure off the parents’ plate, support the athlete with school research and guide them through the process, and not break the bank.
“My services are affordable. I also never want to see anyone go without so I build packages that will work for each family.
“What I’ve realized is no one really knows how to start and at the end of the day, kids would prefer to talk to a third party versus their parents about recruiting opportunities. My role is to make life easy for the athlete and give the parents the opportunity to continue to ‘parent’ versus being the recruiter.”
The process starts by building a profile that is posted on SixPack’s website. The profile includes video.
“You can hire us to do the highlight video or they can do it themselves,” she said. “Kids are great with their iPhones. What do they need me for?”
She just cleans it up to make it consistent with all the other videos on the site and then the lessons begin on all aspects of recruitment from start to finish.
“I give them the tools and as soon as they move into the step of talking with coaches, we do mock calls and questions. Once they ask for a phone call with a mom or dad, they are making an offer.
“At the end of the day, I am trying to help the athletes have these difficult conversations with a coach that they are eventually going to play for. I am behind the scenes supporting the athlete. Coaches do not want to talk to mom and dad and it is just as much coaching the parents on what to do.
Melnick will also reach out to coaches on behalf of an athlete if they are having difficulty reaching the coach.
Melnick’s involvement with an athlete doesn’t conclude until November or December of their first year of university, when she reaches out to every athlete and asks if they are happy with their choice. If they aren’t happy at the end of the year, she guides them through the transfer portal.
“My phone rings from 7 a.m. until sometimes 2 in the morning,” she said.
“On the website, people can book a free 15-minute phone call and sometimes those 15 minutes turn into an hour because it so much fun to be on Zoom with people. Seeing how excited they are I get really excited to want to work with the athlete.”
Melnick’s best marketing tool is a key attribute she possesses.
“It is because they can trust me. You are building relationships with people and parents want to know that their kids are being taken care of. I wouldn’t put anyone’s son or daughter in a position that I wouldn’t put my own kid in.
She describes the big U.S. recruiters as black holes.
“It’s a massive, massive business and conglomerates with many employees. You will hear from them once and then you will never hear from them again. That’s where I differ from everybody else. People can trust me and I am not going to sugarcoat anything. Sometimes it is hard but at end of the day some of the athletes are signing some monster scholarships.”
Her recent athletes have either signed or getting an offer from a NCAA school in PAC 12, Colonial Athletic Association, Western Athletic Conference, Big 10 and SEC to Canada West, Atlantic University Sports to Ontario University Athletics.
Some recruiters demand exclusivity but Melnick doesn’t buy that method.
“It takes a village. If you have to hire five recruiters, hire five recruiters. I am not exclusive but what an awesome thing it would be if Canadians started hiring Canadian recruiters.”
Christine Kok has been impressed with Melnick’s efforts on behalf of her daughter, Calinda, a high-performance beach and indoor volleyball athlete hoping to obtain a NCAA D1 scholarship. They have been working with Melnick since Calinda was in Grade 8.
“Dale helped us understand the importance of starting early and established a recruitment web page for her for both sports. She helped us develop an email template, and got my daughter actively reaching out to the schools she’s interested in. The schools cannot speak with us directly yet due to NCAA rules, but they can reach out to Dale, and then Dale lets us know which schools are interested.”
She is confident her daughter will be recruited with the only issue being finding the right fit.
“Before working with Dale, it seemed like an almost impossible dream for her to get recruited. Dale’s excitement and passion for the recruitment process is infectious, and she is always available to answer our questions. She provides regular updates, and is always getting us to focus on next steps,” Christine said. “Dale is well-connected in the volleyball world, and the fees for her service are extremely reasonable. We also like the fact that Dale is relatively local to us, knows us personally, whereas many other sports recruitment services are located in the United States.”
Melnick is extremely proud of what she has created.
“I know overtime that SixPackRecruitingSports will become a household name,” she said. “For now, I will continue to enjoy supporting athletes, learning more about the many different sports and watching more athletes ‘get noticed.’ ”