Cancelled spring sports upend recruiting process

Daiyaan Hawkins ’20 signs to play football at Temple via Communications

With the indefinite cancellation of spring sports, some student-athletes, specifically juniors, will face adversity with college recruiting. For most high school athletes, junior year is the year to prove themselves as an elite talent. The recruiting process obviously varies between sports, but the coronavirus has forced athletes of all kinds to take a step back.

     In addition to the cancellation of high school sports, college athletic seasons have been canceled as well. Instead of dropping this year completely, the NCAA has approved an extra year of eligibility for spring athletes, which changes the game.

     “Since the NCAA allowed players an extra year of eligibility, colleges will now turn their heads on some players they were originally recruiting. This extra year of eligibility will increase competition amongst college hopefuls, limiting the number of kids being offered athletic scholarships,” Fifth Former Mike Tallarida said.

     For baseball players, stats are typically the only thing that catches a college coach’s eye. If there are no games, college coaches have no way of determining if a player has potential. If the spring season never resumes, the intensity of the summer season will only increase.

     Tallarida, who has a strong interest in playing NCAA baseball, knows what is required for recruitment.

     “I love playing for my school and will certainly be upset if the season gets canceled, but what really will affect my college chances is the summer baseball season,” Tallarida said. “If summer showcases and tournaments get canceled, many juniors will lose their opportunity to play college sports as these showcases are where coaches come to scout players. This whole dilemma will definitely affect mine and many other players’ chances of playing in college.”

     Like baseball, lacrosse recruitment relies heavily on an athlete’s junior year.

     “You used to be able to commit to any division at any time. A few years ago that rule changed; a player could not commit until after September 1st of their junior year,” Fifth Former Max Emery Baum said. “This benefited most players, but still, some kids are late bloomers…This makes the junior year a critical year for recruiting, especially on a powerhouse team like Haverford. Every game is against top-tier competition, and it is a test to see if you are good enough to play at the next level.”

     Getting coaches’ attention is a bit different for lacrosse than baseball. Although stats do matter, a huge element of getting recruited is providing a coach with a highlight tape.

     “Missing out on junior year makes it extremely hard to obtain film that would be possible to send to college coaches, which makes it even harder to be recruited if you are just reaching your true potential as a player or athlete. Also, the NCAA giving college athletes an extra year of eligibility decreases the number of kids per recruiting class,” Baum said.

     Although it seems as if the cancellation only affects spring sports, that is not the case. A sport like swimming, which requires year-round training, takes a huge blow if all practices and meets are canceled.

     Swimming, unlike most other sports, cannot be practiced without the necessary resources, like a pool. In addition to the difficulty of practicing, the only place where swimmers can get college coaches’ attention is at meets.

     Fifth Former Jack Deppen is frustrated due to his inability to progress in the recruiting process.

     “I still had a big meet that I was going to in late March, and that ended up getting canceled due to the [coronavirus]. So missing out on that opportunity to get some [best] times definitely hurts,” Deppen said.

     “I was planning on taking most of my official visits in the spring,” Deppen said, “And with the NCAA reciting ban until the end of May, I have pretty much lost that chance.”

     If the cancellation of sports carries into the summer, every athlete looking to get recruited to play NCAA athletics will be saying the same thing.

Author: Jake LaRocca '22

Sports editor Jake LaRocca has written for The Index since 2018. His articles "Water Polo led by junior Olympians" earned a Silver Key from the 2020 Philadelphia-Area Scholastic Writing competition.