Recruiting for the ranks

Eva Sunjevaric dribbles to avoid defenders against Cleveland State University in their matchup Oct. 5, 2023 in Cleveland. Photo by Dylan Lux Jambar Contributor

By Dylan Lux
Jambar Contributor

Youngstown State University brings in many freshmen and transfers for its 21 varsity sports each year, which are credited to the scouting teams of the university.

The scouting or recruiting teams for each sport vary, as most varsity sports at the university rely on the coaching staff for scouting up-and-coming players.

For the 2023-24 season, the YSU men’s basketball team brought in nine new members, which include seven transfers and two true freshmen.

Athletes on the men’s basketball team are from schools all over the country, such as Northern Kentucky University, Tennessee Tech University and Merrimack College.

Fifth-year senior Ziggy Reid, who transferred from Merrimack, averaged 23.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game and shot 65.8% from the field in last season’s Northeast Conference Tournament after leading the Warriors to the title game. 

The YSU women’s soccer team also added more freshmen to its roster, as 11 of its 33 total members are in their first year of eligibility.

Eva Sunjevaric, freshman forward on the soccer team, saw valuable minutes this past season as she played a total of 483 minutes — the most of any freshman in the 2023 season.

Sunjevaric played in 13 total games last season with four starts. She had two shots on goal for the year with five total shots. Her highest-minute total in a single game was 71 — out of 90 minutes total per soccer game — against Canisius University.

Sunjevaric graduated from Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School in 2023. She said the soccer team had a welcoming environment which brought her to the university.

“[With] the coaching staff and the team, it felt like home here, the culture of the team is very good, and I felt like I would fit in the best here,” Sunjevaric said. “The coaching staff made me feel welcome and at home, and that was a big part of my reason for coming here.”

Sunjevaric said the team’s head coach Brian Shrum and associate head coach Josh Green reached out to her.

“Brian and Josh [reached out] after one of my showcases, and then I came to camp, and after that, I came on my visit … and I loved it here,” Sunjevaric said.

The team also added junior midfielder Maddie Keister from the University of Pittsburgh this offseason.

Maddie Keister in the team’s rain-filled Oct. 5, 2023 matchup against Cleveland State at Krenzler Field. Photo by Dylan Lux / Jambar Contributor

Keister said Shrum reached out to her, and the transfer process moved fast.

“I entered the [transfer] portal [at the] end of spring, and I was kind of open to any options,” Keister said. “I received an email from coach Brian Shrum … I asked [Shrum] if I could stop by … and actually the process happened really quick.”

Shrum and several team members came to Keister’s visit to show her around the university. Keister said the other girls “did really well” with showing her campus and bonding with her.

As for the message Shrum sent to Keister, she said he kept it simple.

“It was short. It just said, ‘Hi, if you’re interested in hearing more about our program, just send a thumbs up back,’ and that was it,” Keister said. “I sent him a thumbs up, and then we had a call after that.”

Keister played in 14 games for the Penguins last season and started in 13. With two goals on the season, she contributed to YSU outscoring opponents, 18-15, this season in games she was part of.

The Pitt transfer also accumulated eight shots on goal and 18 total shots since becoming a Penguin. Her two goals were game-winners this season, including a free kick goal against the University of Akron and Indiana State University.