This article originally appeared in the Greenwich Sentinel.
By Liz Dennison, Director of Athletics, and Aly Costigan, Assistant Director of Athletics for Leadership Programming
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all areas of our lives, including for high school and college student-athletes and athletic programs around the country. The suspension of and/or changes to athletics at every level has disrupted not only training cycles and competitive experiences for athletes everywhere but also the typical collegiate recruiting process and timeline for high school athletes with aspirations to compete at the next level.
Under normal circumstances, college coaches around the country would be traveling to see prospective recruits in person and planning for them to visit college campuses in person this summer and fall. The NCAA suspension of all in-person recruiting for D1 sports started this past spring at the onset of the pandemic and was extended through January 1st, 2021. However, between video conferencing, phone calls, texts, and mail, collegiate coaches have gotten creative about keeping in touch with and evaluating recruits from afar within the context of NCAA rules. High school student-athletes can continue to get creative with their side of the recruiting process, and athletic training, as well.
While the typical advice of visiting campuses and attending tournaments and camps may not be feasible at this time, there are other things student-athletes can do to stay engaged in the process and best set themselves up for success not only in the recruiting process itself but once they begin their careers as a collegiate student-athlete, which is the most important thing.
With limited in-person interaction, it is important for student-athletes to ensure their online recruiting profiles are robust and up to date with academic and athletic updates, including film (not just of games, but of skills and practices), times, and other relevant information specific to their sport and athletic profile. College recruiters are savvy and do their own research; focus on substantial updates and real information, not flashy social media posts that don’t give the recruiters the information they need to make decisions. It is also important to stay connected with your club and high school coaches, as they have good connections with the college coaches themselves. Continuously look for changing information and get advice and help as things evolve.
Students should take control of their own recruiting processes and be proactive in reaching out to coaches and maintaining connections with those schools near the top of their list. For those just starting the process, creating a list to work from is crucial. The amount of information that can be found online is tremendous, but it takes time and organization to formulate these lists, consider what is important to you in the process, and then begin the process of reaching out to coaches to learn more. Having a plan and timeline for these steps make this easier and more manageable. It is a goal for us at Sacred Heart Greenwich to provide this type of support and information to our student-athletes so they understand what the recruiting process and timeline looks like, and are prepared to move through the process within that framework.
For those student-athletes with aspirations of playing their sport at the next level, it is important to focus on what you can control instead of what you cannot and to consider how you will respond to the new and changing landscape. One thing that student-athletes can control is their personal commitment to fitness and keeping up with their skill work whether that looks like training at home on your own, with a small group, or with your club or high school team within state guidelines. The commitment to one’s personal development will not only pay off when athletics starts up again in earnest at all levels, but it also demonstrates commitment to your sport and allows you to showcase personal progress in conversations with collegiate coaches.
Through the ever-changing circumstances with this pandemic, it is important for students to remind themselves to stay calm and patient. Remember the reasons you play the sport you play in the first place, as that is the most important part. Get creative with your training and find ways to stay sharp in your specific sport during this time. We don’t know what the future may hold, but we can control what we do at this time so when the time does come we are ready to go.
While the recruiting experience for the Classes of 2021, 2022, and 2023 may look different than most years, it can still be a positive experience that results in each student finding the right academic and athletic experience for them.