College recruitment impacted by COVID-19

High school athletes find it hard to get recruited during pandemic

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Photo courtesy of Andy Niser '21

Andy Niser ’21 receiving his medal for placing 18th at the Shazam XC Club Championships, good enough for All Shazam

Over the past year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected how athletes are recruited and scouted by college coaches and programs. Now with restrictions on large gatherings, it can be hard to be recruited when scouts and/or coaches cannot view games or matches.

Student athletes of all classes and levels have had less time on their respective courts and fields. Thus less time in front of colleges to prove their skills.

COVID has definitely taken a toll on recruitment. For me being a junior it has become a lot harder because current college athletes have been granted an extra year of eligibility and a lot of players have entered the transfer pool,” said basketball player Bailey Zalewski ’22. “This means that the amount of spots open on a team went from 3 or 4, to 1 or 2 and even possibly none.”

Student athletes took matters into their own hands and tried to reach out to coaches themselves to attract attention for a scholarship.

“[Reaching out] allows them to know who you are and provides them with evidence that demonstrates you are clearly interested in joining their program,” said track and cross country runner Andy Niser ‘21. “Then, continue to update them as you perform well in competitions and achieve success in the classroom.”

Some people believe that college recruiters should just base their recruitment off of every year the athlete played except the second half of the 2020 season and the entire 2021 season. But, the athletes who still put in their work, like Zalewski, disagree.

“I do not think that colleges should base recruitment off of sophomore and senior seasons. I don’t think this year can just be ignored,” said Zalewski. “This is the time that an athlete’s true nature will come out, at least in my opinion. If they are dedicated and passionate about what they do, this season, playing wise, will be similar because the work was still being put in.”

However, some sports, like cross country, were allowed to proceed this year, causing these athletes to have slightly different opinions on how prospective athletes should be evaluated by recruiters.

“For running, I strongly believe coaches should base recruiting off of demonstrated success, performing during championship events,” said Niser. “This, combined with multi-year driven factors, should direct decision making.”

Without COVID in the mix, athletes and their recruitment would look a lot different. More coaches in the gyms means more opportunities for free education and athletic opportunities.

“If seasons weren’t affected, there would be more spots available and more chances for in-person interaction with coaches, which is incredibly important,” said Zalewski. “I would be able to visit colleges, watch practices, and even possibly have a workout with the team.”