How COVID-19 is affecting student athlete recruitment

Rahim Kouferidji, Editor

With the cancelation of all activities for the rest of the school year, high school athletes looking to play at the next level are facing unforeseen challenges when it comes to the recruiting process. For some who have been looking to get recruited for years, the development of this situation is worrying.

“I have known I wanted to play [lacrosse] in college since probably eighth grade and that’s when the recruiting process started for me. I was very upset about the season being canceled and really nervous for where it would leave me with recruiting over the summer,” said junior Jane Durkin, a varsity girls lacrosse player. “As of right now, our summer season is still going to happen and is just pushed back so that’s a relief, but I had coaches coming to watch me in the spring at RB so that was a letdown.”

The cancelation of sports has made it nearly impossible for athletes to show their talents. Events including regular season games for those in the spring, tournaments, showcases, and AAU games during the offseason have all been suspended. All recruited athletes have been affected in some capacity, regardless of whether or not they are in season. 

For some who just recently decided they wanted to compete in college, these circumstances have made it difficult to get started.

“I didn’t know I wanted to play in college until my winter season this year,” said sophomore girls basketball player Rachel Wilczak, whose travel basketball season was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. “I have just started reaching out to colleges this winter and spring trying to get recruited. My travel coach has helped me a lot with this process.”

As a result, students needed to get creative and not just rely on past play to get noticed. Whether it be reaching out themselves, staying in shape during the break or compiling film and highlight reels, they remain ready for the time they can return. Increased activity on their part has been common, and coaches are also helping athletes get exposure with colleges.

In hindsight, these circumstances have highlighted the importance of starting the recruitment process early.

“Our recruiting process started in June 2019 and I was able to commit in September 2019,” said junior Madeline Wenig, who already committed to a college for swimming before the outbreak occurred. “I committed to the University of Kentucky in the fall. Luckily it [the outbreak] did not affect me because I’m not in the recruiting process anymore, but for some of my teammates it’s stressful.”

For others, the outbreak has caused them to reconsider things and go down a different path.

“I have been in contact with multiple colleges during this time. Some Division I, some junior college,” said senior baseball player Michael Schicker, whose plans have shifted after decommitting from Purdue University. “I am mainly looking to go the junior college route since I decommitted so late, and most schools had their 2020 rosters made up already. Also, since the NCAA gave everyone a year [of eligibility] back for spring sports, there is a huge overflow of players at D1 schools right now, so I decided it would be better to go to a junior college.”

Either way, the athletes are biding their time, staying prepared in case anything changes.

“To get around these social distancing restrictions, I have to lift at my house, hit at my house, and basically train at my house or on a field instead of a gym or facility . . . I have had a lot more time to train because of quarantine,” Schicker said.