College Bound Athletes

Chloe Wolfe

After experiencing delayed, restricted or cancelled seasons, student athletes are balancing college recruitment with their love for the sport.

“I enjoy lacrosse because it of how unique it is compared to other sports,” Ford senior Zachary Connor, Kalamazoo College lacrosse commit, said.  “You need to be able to shoot, pass and catch all while running, and be able to cradle and protect the ball from defenders.  I enjoy playing midfield, which is a position that plays both offense and defense. The head coach at Kalamazoo said he likes my ability to play on both sides of the ball which most people are not able to do, so it makes me a big threat against teams who only have offensive and defensive specific midfielders who cannot play both sides.”

As high school coaches try to prepare their athletes for college recruitment, problems arise.

“It is very difficult for a high school athlete to get recruited right now for two reasons,” Stevenson football coach Justin Newcomb said.  “First, there are not as many scholarships available.  Second, seniors are unable to step foot on a college campus, tour the facilities or sit down and get to know the coaching staff, which presents a challenge.  Schools had to get very creative and we had a few of our athletes take ‘virtual tours’ of college campuses.  This is creative for the school, but not the same as being there in person.  College recruiting is built around relationships and it is really difficult to build relationships on Zoom or through a computer.”

Athletes who have already signed with a college have had to persevere through some challenges.

“The biggest obstacle I had to overcome regarding recruitment was trying to be seen by college coaches with the new policies caused by COVID,” Eisenhower senior Rachel Horecki, Albion College softball commit, said.  “Since my junior season of high school softball was cancelled, it was extremely hard to record live game footage of me to send to coaches.  Therefore, it was important for coaches to come out and watch my games in the summer.  But, some tournaments in the summer did not allow college coaches to be present because of the new rules. With all the new policies in place, I had to rely on emailing coaches practice videos and setting up Zoom and phone calls.”

Others were not as worried for their school seasons as they were for their travel seasons.

“I was more worried about summer softball than the school season because most college recruitment happens then,” Utica senior Olivia Raichle, Grove City College softball commit, said.  “My biggest concerns were that college coaches might not be able to come watch me play in my games or get tours and meetings with college coaches.”

Though this past athletic year has been difficult, the National Collegiate Athletic Association is planning to reimburse new recruits.

“This past restricted season was extremely difficult to manage for everyone, but universities, athletes and coaches did the best they could,” Newcomb said.  “What a lot of people miss with the NCAA granting everyone essentially a free year of eligibility, is it allows for those student recruits to come back and play another year.  The challenge for college teams is they are still capped at 85 scholarship players.  Typically, a team will bring in 20-25 freshmen in their recruiting class each year.  However, if a team has 15 players who opted to sit out the season and come back next year, that is great for that student athlete, but it puts the college in a tough spot. They may only have 5-10 scholarships available for an incoming freshman class, which makes it extremely difficult for freshman to have a chance at a scholarship.”