Coronavirus delays college recruiting process for high school athletes

Kerrigan+Westbay%2C+a+junior+on+the+varsity+girl%27s+basketball+team%2C+poses+for+a+picture+on+%0AWinter+Sports+Picture+Day.

photo contributed by Kerrigan Westbay

Kerrigan Westbay, a junior on the varsity girl’s basketball team, poses for a picture on Winter Sports Picture Day.

Terra Nagai, Sports Editor

The path to the collegiate level has changed for both players and coaches due to challenges with converting the process online. The pandemic caused the NCAA Division 1 schools to undergo a “dead period” since April, during which college coaches are prohibited from scouting and watching potential recruits in person, hosting camps or conducting official/unofficial visits for their prospects. The “dead period” as of now will last until January 2021. 

Senior and varsity soccer player Jordy Santana is disappointed that his traditional years for college recruiting are being disrupted.

Obviously I’m extremely frustrated that the recruiting process has been hindered so much by COVID-19,” Santana said. “There isn’t anything I can do except continue to train, improve and play at a high level while I try and keep as many options open as I can.”

Since players and coaches are only allowed to communicate virtually, Santana doesn’t know when he will be able to showcase himself again in person.

“I’ve tried to adapt by making a few highlight videos and reaching out to a lot of coaches,” Santana said. “Throughout the last few months, many coaches have said that they are ‘looking forward’ to seeing me play in person; however, I’m not sure if or when that will be a possibility.”

Junior and varsity basketball player Kerrigan Westbay also had difficulty with collecting videos of her playing, reaching out to coaches and furthering herself in the recruiting process.

“I can’t play in games or scrimmages so it’s hard to get film,” Westbay said. “Also, coaches are really busy right now so it’s hard to be in contact and talk to them.”

However, Westbay has not let the pandemic stop her from becoming a better player. She has been training in the off-season to improve her chances after the coronavirus pandemic is over.

“I have high hopes about my recruitment after COVID-19 because I’ve been working really hard in other ways,” Westbay said. “I’ve been weight lifting and working with my skills trainer to get better that way. I’m going to keep working hard and hope for the best in the upcoming season.”

In most cases, college coaches would go to an event and watch players that have either asked them to watch them play or players that they believe are potential recruits. Coaches would also be able to watch other players that either haven’t contacted them directly or have not been on the coaches radar, which can widen the scouting range, and may even result in a coach becoming keen on a player they never knew about. However, now that coaches are unable to watch players in person, this opportunity is diminished significantly and therefore reduces the scouting range.

“It’s going to be harder than any other graduating year to get seen and even harder for top schools,” junior and varsity soccer player Kylie Finney said. “I was talking to a college coach and he said that all they do now is read through thousands of emails just watching films and it’s just not the same. And there’s a chance that they may never see your email.”

As time is running out for seniors who have not committed yet due to regular applications for colleges, Santana is considering different ways to continue his soccer career.

“I’m very hopeful that recruiting will open up this winter or spring,” Santana said. “If it doesn’t, I will likely try to go somewhere and walk on, which isn’t the worst option in the world either.”