Students find alternatives to in-person recruitment during the shelter-in-place

May 21, 2020 — by Tiffany Wang

This spring, junior soccer player Michelle Lim was planning to go to the East Coast and tour different colleges she was planning on applying for. Lim, currently in the recruiting process for D1 and D3 schools, was excited to meet different teams and coaches, but never got the chance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She planned to visit colleges in Chicago, New York and Boston.

“Ideally, I would really have liked to see all the schools during the summer, especially before starting my college applications, but it’s kind of hard to tell at this point what’s going to happen,” Lim said. 

The coronavirus has canceled sports seasons and prevented people from traveling. Many students, especially this years’ junior athletes, are worried about whether they will receive opportunities to impress college coaches and their likelihood of being recruited. In-person recruitment has been postponed until May 31, which has made it harder to get in touch with coaches.

The recruitment process for college sports can start as early as freshman year. Colleges gather insights into potential recruits through emails, letters and questionnaires. 

This groundwork sets up junior and senior year when athletes are able to showcase their skills and tour colleges. 

For volleyball player Dylan Li, also a junior, was looking forward to attending nationals, which was supposed to take place in July, with his club team. 

“This year is when most coaches make their decisions on players to select, so the possibility of not having nationals is huge since it is such a crucial tournament,” he said.

For her part, Lim had showcases scheduled at the beginning of May, but because of the coronavirus, all of her trips and showcases were canceled.

“For me, the showcase was really important for some of the schools I was talking to because they have either only seen me once or only seen videos of me,” Lim said.

For now, Lim has been sending coaches clips of game footage, whether it be a 3-minute highlight video or a full 90-minute game. She has also Facetimed with a few coaches she was supposed to meet with over spring break.

Another complication: All of the local athletic fields are closed.

“I can’t practice with other people, so I only have my driveway to practice in,” Lim said. “I have been running six miles every day to keep up my fitness.”

She has also been doing drills with her team once a week on a Zoom session.

For others, staying home all day has been a blessing. Junior Leila Chaudry, also a soccer player, has been recovering from her Nov. 27 knee surgery, after tearing her ACL meniscus during practice on Nov. 21. 

“This time [during quarantine] has put me on a similar track as my teammates in the sense where none of us are able to be seen by coaches because all our showcases were canceled,” Chaudry said. “It allows me to push myself to get back by the time we are allowed to play organized sports again.”

She has been training by herself at home, with workouts that her coach sends out. Her team, the MVLA 03G Barca White, meets on Zoom to work on skills, conditioning and training.

For next year, many students will have to work a lot harder, including touring more schools before college applications are due and reaching out to more coaches.

“It’s really frustrating and sitting at home not being able to do anything,” Lim said. “I’m really sad too because I can’t play the spring season with all of my teammates that are seniors.”

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At UC Berkeley, PhD student Abrar Abidi and research assistant Yvonne Hao have embarked on a goal of creating hand sanitizer for the Bay Area's most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. Their hand sanitizer includes glycerol mixed with other products, in accordance with a formula from the World Health Organization. So far, they are producing 120 hundreds of gallons of sanitizer each week. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Makasdjian with UC Berkeley.

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