The birth of Prospect NYS can be traced back to one sentence: "I didn't even know there was a Fairport."
It was December of 2017. I had just accepted the head varsity football position at Fairport High School. After finishing 9th period class, my phone pinged. It was a text from my good friend, Keith Molinich.
"Coach! Ross Pennypacker from Villanova is on his way to see you. Told him about Onome."
Onome Kessington was a junior defensive lineman going into his senior year off-season. I was barely a couple of weeks on the job and I was excited about chance to talk about our program, Onome and to learn about Villanova.
Coach Pennypacker walked in with his signature, charismatic presence.
"Coach! I'm Marc Vitticore. Welcome to Fairport!" I exclaimed.
We shook hands:
"Ross Pennypacker. Coach, I appreciate it man. I didn't even know there was a Fairport."
We both laughed. I quickly responded:
We sat down and talked football, recruiting New York, Onome and Fairport for about 30 minutes.
"You found us because a coach from another district told you we had a guy" I questioned.
"That's right." Pennypacker quipped.
In my mind I wasn't surprised. On one hand, it was an awesome thought. Coach Molinich helping our student athletes in Fairport is about as meaningful as it gets. It wasn't the first time I had worked informally with Molinich on recruiting. Years before, when I was head coach at Red Jacket in 2013, I sent then Fairport coach Dave Whitcomb an email about help with recruiting a couple of our top tier underclassmen. Whitcomb wrote back; reach out to Keith Molinich. He's great with recruiting.
When I did reach out, Molinich responded almost immediately and helped start the recruiting process for Kory Fogarty and Andrew Ogrodowski. I admired his unwavering support, expertise and interest in helping players outside his program. This kind of servant leadership reminded me of the Eddie Meath All-Star Game spirit. When rivalries dissolve and new brotherhoods emerge for players and coaches from all areas of Rochester and beyond.
On the other hand, I was concerned that a university such as Villanova didn't know about Fairport, one of the largest, most prominent districts in upstate New York. I knew that I needed to learn more.
Days later, Harvard University Coach Mickey Fein walked through the doors at Fairport High to talk about Onome. Because of my experience with Pennypacker, I asked:
"Coach, how do you recruit New York?"
"It's daunting, coach. We rarely get anybody from out of here because we can't find good information. Right now we just drive in to talk to a few prominent schools here and there and ask them for lists." Fein said.
"AA schools?" I asked.
What about the A's, B's, C's and D's? There's a ton of talent there too!"
Fein leans forward.
"I know. I agree. We just can't get to all of them. We recruit Nationwide. You should change it, coach. Other states are way ahead of New York in terms of how they communicate information to college coaches. We need a database we can sort through before we get on the road."
We spent the remainder of the meeting discussing the needs of college coaches and programs like Harvard. I asked as many questions as I could regarding the potential of starting up a scouting service to serve the state of New York.
I spent the next 11 months researching, reading, learning the landscape of recruiting both in New York and beyond. I started a personal Twitter account to begin learning the social media side of the process. I stayed in touch with Coach Fein, often calling him for ideas and questions. I struck up a connection with St. John Fisher football coach Chris Keyes about the perspectives of a division 3 coach and to be quite honest - the needs and requirements for both were virtually the same as a division 1 ivy league school.
And the rest, as we say, is history.
Marc Vitticore - Founder of Prospect NYS and Executive Director of the Power 100