Getting Recruited to Play Collegiate Sports is Hard, But COVID-19 is Making It Even Harder


The coronavirus pandemic has affected athletic recruitment processes for numerous Menlo students, including senior Avery Lee. Lee committed to play basketball at Yale University this past spring. Photo courtesy of Avery Lee.

Chase Hurwitz, Sports Editor

COVID-19 has created an unpredictable situation for student athletes trying to get recruited to play at the collegiate level. Menlo coaches and players are scrambling to find ways to show off their talents to interested coaches.

“Nobody has the answers. There’s no sort of playbook. We’re just trying to figure it out as we go along,” boys varsity lacrosse coach Blakely Kim said. “As coaches, we’re always advocates for our guys, and we’re just trying to figure out what it’s like to stand in these college coaches’ shoes.”

Lacrosse showcases have mainly been on the East Coast even before COVID-19, but now, West Coast lacrosse players are even more disadvantaged. Despite the pandemic, large lacrosse showcases have resumed on the East Coast. Earlier in the pandemic, the parents of one of Kim’s players decided not to travel to the East Coast, thus skipping a showcase. “I just felt so bad,” Kim said. “The only way to work around that is to be transparent in our communications [with the college coaches] and just say ‘you liked what you saw in him, so what can we do to keep him on your list?’”

Senior Ashley Scafetta was committed to swim Division I at Dartmouth when COVID-19 drove the school to shut down their swim program. “I didn’t even hear it from the coaches,” Scafetta said. “My mom saw it in a swim magazine, and I opened it up and was just like ‘oh my god.’” The school had been looking to cut programs, and since swimming was one of the least popular sports on campus, Dartmouth used the pandemic as an excuse to drop the sport.

“At that point, luckily I hadn’t told any other coaches about committing to Dartmouth yet, so I was still in touch with some other schools. […] But the process was long; there were so many Zooms depending on what year you were [and] whether you were a diver or swimmer.”

While Scafetta’s situation is extreme, many others are dealing with difficult situations too. Junior Aidan Housenbold is looking at Division I schools for lacrosse and has only been able to attend a few showcases on the East Coast. Since it is now much harder to meet coaches face-to-face, Household has gotten creative in how he stays in touch with coaches. “I get game film from every event, so I [email] the best clips like a highlight reel to all the coaches. Ideally, you want to schedule a call with them because that’s a pretty good sign you’re building a relationship and will eventually get to play for them when we’re allowed to visit their campus in person.”

Junior Mick Tamas has had a similar experience with collegiate tennis coaches. “Some coaches have reached out to me, and I’ve reached out to some coaches. It’s kind of weird because you never met this person before, but you’re just emailing and texting.” Because there are so many big tennis tournaments during the spring that got canceled this year, Tamas had to put his recruitment process on hold; however, many tournaments are now able to resume while staying socially distanced. 

Senior Avery Lee had already been looking to play Division I basketball when COVID-19 hit in the middle of her junior year season. “I’d already made a lot of relationships with a lot of different coaches, which was definitely beneficial on my part. So for me, when [COVID-19] happened, the process sped up. There were a lot of coaches who wanted to get commitments pretty quick. Teams were trying to lock down their roster, and that kind of made me make a decision quicker.” Lee committed to play for Yale University in April.

Many leagues and tournaments have begun playing again with specific regulations due to COVID-19. Now, most athletes are hoping that colleges can open their campuses to interested students in order to get a more normal recruitment process.