Athlete recruitment process battles COVID-19

The high school sports and recruiting community is putting forth efforts to stay safe, yet still be able to play the activities they love. Along with playing these sports, players are also trying to prove themselves to coaches and recruits amidst a pandemic.


He who’s humble must not fumble…Junior Levi Robins stands tall in coverage versus his opponent. Robins maintains a strong gaze, remaining focused amongst the incoming struggles the world has brought upon him.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the high school recruitment process has been forced to adjust, as students need to be able to gather attention from universities and make a presence known to be considered for sports teams at the next level.
The new system in the 2020-2021 season differs heavily from years past, as there are new arising challenges and problems that teams, players, coaches and scouts have no choice but to face in order to succeed with their goals.
New adversities have been introduced this year, but athletic director Dennis Stanton believes that the high school’s student-athletes have “demonstrated authentic gratitude,” and have “done a great job embracing the limitations that the situation has presented.”
Students, coaches and others have listed difficulties that they have experienced during this unprecedented sports season, but they believe that students and teams have the resilience to fight through it.
Lacrosse player Brenna Budd believes that there definitely were more stresses to make a mark in the recruitment process this year compared to others.
Budd personally had difficulties with travel limitations, lack of film, talent showcases closing and missing out on the chance to feel the atmosphere of recruiting universities.
Football player Levi Robins has also faced a few conflicts of his own in the past few months.
“There have been limited games this season depending on the area, and limited film to show to coaches, and it makes it even harder to gain interest and exposure when you have limited games and overall content to show to coaches,” Robins said.
Robins also struggled with a lack of spring football, no way to interact with coaches besides on social media and anxiety about the situation as a whole. He said it was tough to “focus 100% on football” and struggled not to worry about COVID-19 spreading around everywhere.
Stanton also has his own opinion of what the biggest challenges that the high school and recruitment process are facing right now.
“The biggest challenge is trying to create a great experience regardless of the situation or circumstance. We have great coaches and staff that have done just that this past fall,” Stanton said.
He also cited “the lack of larger exposure events” as another challenge.
Varsity boys basketball coach Tim Brown believes that more than anything else, the players have been the ones that have been forced to adjust.
“Athletes need to be creative in the way that they’re exposing themselves to coaches,” Brown said. He believes players need to form strong relationships with coaches to give them the best chance of success.
Brown has also needed to make a few adjustments of his own as this season progresses. He has been conducting zoom workout meetings to make sure the players are staying in shape, and is planning to hold study sessions of the playbook through zoom as well.
Brown believes players have much more ownership and control “within their individual improvement.”
Football coach Ed Gallagher has noticed a few struggles that his players have been dealing with.
One challenge that he has realized is the difficulty for students to sell themselves as players to college coaches without meeting them or being around them, which has caused the recruiting world to adjust and operate in a new manner.
“This year more than any other, players (and coaches) need to market themselves on social media as much as possible,” Gallagher said. “Highlight videos shared via Twitter and email have become the norm for this year.”
Stanton has welcomed adjustments with an open mindset to combat the pandemic and its effect on the games. He has a specific approach that he has been following, which he pegs as “controlling the controllables.”
Stanton believes that he succeeded in stepping up for what he has the ability to impact.. As the school was able to play 60-80% of their scheduled games, student-athletes were able to obtain footage for their recruitment.
Brown voiced a bit of advice that he has for student-athletes as they navigate their way through these obstacles this year. “Call the coaches you’re interested in playing for,” Brown said. “Coaches get a ton of emails every day about players who are interested in playing at the next level. They may get 1 phone call a day. A call will help you stand out.”
`Gallagher also had some advice of his own for those in need. “Just do your best to promote yourself digitally, through Twitter, emailing college coaches and keeping your grades to have enough doors opened for you,” Gallagher said.
Despite all the trials and tribulations that the recruitment process has faced this year, Gallagher believes that everyone is still doing everything possible to help the players succeed, himself included.
In an attempt to minimize the issues faced, Stanton and Gallagher say that several schools are doing virtual visits and Zoom interviews to get to know the players and that there are many protocols in place to mitigate the spread.
Budd has faced a lot of adversity with her high school recruitment process, but she isn’t too worried about it.
“Once the season starts, you really have to hone down and focus on what really matters. It’s almost like an escape from this reality we are living in,” Budd said.
Robins has his own method of battling these troubles that have occurred in this past year; positivity.
“We need to keep moving forward and not be stopped from what we do on the field. Remaining positive and hopeful is not only a necessity for sports players, but for us all,” Robins said.