Athletic recruitment proves resilient

Sports have been affected mightily during this national pandemic and coaches and players have had to adjust during these changing times. Regulations and guidelines have eliminated numerous ways of recruiting. COVID-19 has forced many coaches to become more creative in acquiring new players. 

Prior to the pandemic, new recruits were able to stay on-campus and be hosted by a current player of such team. They were able to really get a feel for how the life on campus is in regards to being a student athlete. It has always been a unique experience for incoming recruits, unfortunately there is no such opportunity this fall. These visits allowed for them to get a real feel for the community that being a student athlete offers at Virginia Wesleyan. 

Each coach has gotten very creative in ways of connecting with their prospective players. Jeff Bowers, women’s soccer head coach mentions the challenges that are faced with recruiting during COVID-19.

“So, I think there is multiple challenges that we have faced. First, is obviously the ability to be able to see players play. We have players from all over the country on our team. So, you know obviously it’s been tough for us to get out west. I think we have had to rely a little bit more on video more so than we have ever done before,” Bowers said. These challenges have offered many different methods of recruiting.

 “I think the other challenge for me is avoiding overnight trips right now,” softball coach Brandon Elliott said.  

With this new atmosphere all around the world. Everyone has been getting creative in connecting with each other. Bowers explained, “One of the advantages obviously is that zoom has become so popular. We been able to Zoom with families. More face-to-face then just over the phone. I think that has been one aspect of COVID that’s been a really positive experience. We zoom more with families,” Bowers said. This connection with families is playing a much more of an impact with Zoom taking over. 

There is a larger impact than just not being able to see a community that a team offers at the Division III level. With many athletes not experiencing a traditional senior season, how are they going to be affected in the following season.

“We are trying to take the positive outlook on this. I think once our season in the fall got cancelled, I think the motivation level for them to be as fit as we would like them to be was probably not as urgent. So, we have really used this time to help our players recognize how important their fitness base is,” Bowers said. 

Elliott talks about some positives of this off-time for his team. “As much as we didn’t want to take the time off, I think about our girls are used to play so many games, practicing so much since they were eight years old. For six months they weren’t able to do anything, and their bodies have recovered.”

Freshman volleyball player Cara Caruso said, “During the summer, it was definitely really hard to train just because everything was closed and there was no gyms open or anything.” 

COVID-19 has presented many challenges to athletics in the recruiting aspect, but coaches and athletes have been persevering through these adversities.

By Nicholas Mundy