How college athletic recruiting has changed during a pandemic

By Emilio Garcia on Unsplash

By Omid Ghulami, a student in COMM 100 course

It has been a confusing and challenging time to be a student-athlete, especially for those with dreams of competing at the college level. After a long list of cancellations and postponements of official recruiting visits, tournaments, and college camps, recruits found themselves in uncharted territory. 

Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the NCAA to institute a mandatory dead period that bans in-person evaluations and prohibits college coaches from hosting recruits for on-campus visits. The good news is, much of the soccer recruiting process happens digitally. 

Fisher Soccer Assistant Coach, Justin Ferren, gave us a peek at what that entails when he posted a Tweet that read “COVID recruiting 2.0” along with a picture of his laptop streaming a game in his home office in Rochester.

“I think the biggest difference is that we can’t see the kid and we’re relying solely on videos of the games. Some kids have played more recently, some kids are in states where they’re still not playing,” Ferren said. 

In the state of New York, students were not allowed to leave the state and go play in tournaments. So depending on where students are from, some may not have had coaches see them in person.“That was my moment to have colleges watch me and it was canceled,” said Devin Schoenberger, a Fisher soccer player who played at Liverpool high school in Syracuse. 

“We didn’t know what other opportunities we were going to have and a lot of us weren’t committed by that time which at first was very worrying because I’ve worked hard all throughout my high school to get into a good school and continue both my soccer career and academics.”

Many players were fortunate enough to have archived video from previous seasons to build up a profile for these scouts, but Schoenberger said that many players, like himself, rely on scouts coming to games to see them in action and are eager for the possibility of showcases. 

“It would have been great to have showcases because a coach could see my full performance and not just small clips. However, looking back everything worked out and I’m very happy that things are going back to normal. I’m currently committed to Fisher and finally doing what I love the most, playing soccer with my teammates while continuing my academics. This whole thing didn’t seem possible but I’m here now.” 

The role of athletic trainers at Fisher includes a diverse list of duties and responsibilities. Athletic trainers in these school settings provide an educated resource for coaches, athletes, parents, and administration to know that the medical needs of athletes are being addressed. 

It doesn’t mean athletic trainers handle everything. It does mean they will evaluate, treat and provide referrals when appropriate. However, when a pandemic shows up and hangs around for a year, the responsibility list gets longer and wider for athletic trainers. 

“In the world of athletics, the need to adapt and be flexible is crucial,” Athletic Trainer Michael Kats said. 

“With COVID-19, that need has been elevated. Everyone wants to get back to normal, but we may not get back to what normal was. Instead, we have the opportunity to make things better and learn from the circumstances we have in front of us. What does that mean? At the moment, it means paying even more attention to little details and being diligent every day. It means making sure things are getting sanitized, that athletes and coaches are wearing masks, that everyone is keeping up with proper social distancing practices, and providing hand sanitizing stations in high traffic areas. 

Our goal is to keep things as clean and safe as possible while following all guidelines that have been put in place by the Fisher college.”


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