Track and field recruitment before and during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is continually changing the landscape of collegiate sports. Student-athletes around North America and the rest of the world are living through a time of uncertainty, all while venturing down new avenues to reach the same end goal: signing and competing for a university/college.
Football is certainly taking up space in the headlines as Big Ten and Pac-12 schools in the NCAA moved to cancel all fall sports. Other major conference seasons stand in the balance, football players from across the power five and beyond continue to speak out about player safety to protect themselves and their season, and just about anyone and everyone has chimed in with their opinion most notably on Twitter under the #WeWantToPlay hashtag.
While we can’t completely ignore football, as it’s a major source of funding for collegiate track and field programs, let’s see what the impact of COVID-19 means for our sport.
We’ll start with the obvious, no one is exempt. Coaches and training staff are facing unexpected challenges when it comes to executing training, competition, and recruitment for their programs. Athletes at every level are worried about their safety and their careers, especially high-school seniors who have been training tirelessly for their final season and university/college recruitment year.
Despite all this, recruitment is still happening and coaches/athletes need to continue moving forward, making safe plans for the future.
Read on to learn more about the current track and field/cross country landscape looks like with COVID-19 causing shifts in recruitment and how Streamline Athletes can support you right now!
RECRUITMENT PRE COVID
COVID aside, the sport of track and field is unique because there is such a variety of events within college track and field/cross country; everyone is capable and worthy of the opportunities that come with post-secondary education.
Because of this diversity in events, groups are scouted differently by recruiters and coaches; a discus thrower, for instance, will have to meet extremely different marks and criteria to that of a 400 metre hurdler. In addition to this, some college programs have unique approaches to recruitment, some focusing on specific event groups over others or certain geographic locations.
Here is a quick rundown of how the process generally works:
For prospective student-athletes, coaches want to know about your best times and marks, your progression in an event, and if you meet certain academic requirements for university/college admission.
Based on this info, coaches will reach out to athletes that they think would fit well into their program and team. Recruits can and should reach out to coaches, too! Don’t be shy — take the lead on your recruitment journey! Coaches are more likely to spend time on a recruit that takes initiative and shows a high level of interest in their school.
Find out how to contact a college coach here!
After these initial conversations, athletes (with the help of coaches and institution representatives) can plan unofficial and official visits to school campuses, continue connecting and learning about athletic/academic programs and begin making their decision.
Once a choice is made and an athlete knows where they want to go, conversations will progress with the coaching staff and the prospective student-athlete will sign a letter of intent. The rest is history!
Something that is true for everyone, no matter what event, is that every athlete should be proactive and take charge of their recruitment journey, no matter their performances. After all, college coaches can’t find every single recruit on their own!
RULES & DEFINITIONS:
There are no restrictions on athletes requesting or receiving admissions materials and brochures, researching universities, and touring campuses in their own time; but a college coach can typically not contact a prospective high school student-athlete by phone, email, or other modes of communication until their junior/grade 11 year of high school. The exact time-frame depends on specific association rules.
Athletes: Keep in mind that when you feel ready, you can reach out to coaches too! On StreamlineAthletes.com student-athletes can contact any coach they want with the simple click of a button.
- ON-CAMPUS: When a prospective student-athlete is invited and given financial assistance to visit a school campus by an institution representative
- OFF-CAMPUS: When a prospective student-athlete is given financial assistance to meet with an institution representative at an off-campus location
- ON-CAMPUS: When a prospective student-athlete visits a school but the entirety of the trip is funded by the recruit and their family
- OFF-CAMPUS: When a prospective student-athlete meets an institution representative at an off-campus location but the entity of the trip is funded by the recruit and their family
Letter of Intent:
- A document used to indicate a student-athletes commitment to a college/university
- Student-athletes don’t have to sign a letter of intent, but many student-athletes do because it brings closure to the recruiting process
In the NCAA D-I, off-campus contact, official visits, and unofficial visits are allowed starting August 1st before an athlete’s junior/grade 11 year. Recruits can still visit campuses in their own time, before their junior/grade 11 year, but they just can’t meet with coaches.
In the NCAA D-II, athletes can take an unlimited amount of unofficial visits, make phone calls, and reach out to college coaches. Just remember coaches can’t respond until June 15th before junior year/grade 11.
In the NCAA D-III, there are little to no restrictions, meaning that coaches can contact potential recruits at any time and vice versa. One of the only restrictions is that official visits are only permitted starting on January 1st of junior year/grade 11 in high school.
In the NAIA, there is more leniency and coaches can contact athletes freely. The NAIA does not regulate the contact between coach and high school student-athletes or recognize a letter of intent, but a school or conference might do as part of their own rules. However, the NAIA does regulate campus visits.
In U SPORTS, prospective student-athletes may be contacted at any point during the year with no age restriction and partake in official/unofficial visits at any time.
RECRUITMENT DURING/POST COVID
So, now we’ve covered the basics, how have things changed?
Keep in mind everything is subject to further change as the state of the pandemic is constantly developing. The timeline when track and field will return to normal is determined by local, state, provincial, and national governing bodies.
A major change to note is that recruiting is happening largely online. This means coach and athlete meetings are happening over Zoom, students are participating in virtual tours and, since the majority of competitions are canceled, time trials are being used to demonstrate fitness and replicate races.
Coaches are still very much interested in performances and academics; however, now they have to evaluate other factors and take into consideration what the absence of a season means for athletes.
Athletes: Keep in mind that you can add links to unverified performances, such as time trials, to your Streamline Athletes account in the “From You” section. While they will not be considered verified performances, they will showcase your recent performance in the best way possible.
Here is the latest from the North American Collegiate Landscape:
- There is an extended moratorium (temporary ban) on all in-person recruiting including all in-person recruiting visits, all scheduling and rescheduling of any future in-person recruiting, all travel arrangements
- Recruitment can be done by phone call, text message, social media, email, or other non-person modes of communication
- U SPORTS has canceled 2020 Fall Term National Championships, including Cross-Country
- CLICK HERE FOR MORE U SPORTS UPDATES
- NCAA D-I extended the suspension of all in-person recruiting through to August 31st, 2020. As of recently this ‘dead period’ has been extended to September 30th, 2020. The 2020 D-I NCAA XC Championships have been cancelled
- NCAA D-II extended its quiet period of recruiting through to August 31st, 2020. In-person recruiting is allowed on campus
- NCAA D-III has not made any major announcements; however, Streamline Athletes have been in touch with D-III coaches, which have said they are going ahead with in-person campus visits. If there is a specific school you are interested in, directly reach out to a program/coach for their own recruiting plans
- All NCAA divisions have granted an additional season/semester of eligibility for senior students and the NCAA canceled all 2020 Spring and Winter sports
- CLICK HERE FOR MORE NCAA UPDATES
- The NAIA has chosen to postpone the majority of NAIA National Championships to the spring season, giving conferences a chance to determine when to conduct their regular-season contests throughout the year
- The NAIA has postponed 2020 Winter Championships to the Spring of 2021
- The NAIA has granted an additional season/semester of eligibility for senior students
- CLICK HERE FOR MORE NAIA UPDATES
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR ATHLETES
There is a lot of adaptation going on. Since the primary chunk of the 2020 track and field season was canceled and limited meets are popping up throughout the summer, athletic performances from the 2019 season are being prioritized.
Coaches are aware that a whole season of competition was missed. What it means to be a recruitable athlete has shifted and if you are doing time trials, documenting training, and remaining active, it is a telltale sign that you are committed to improving and dedicated to the sport. Coaches will love it and appreciate the effort!
Since recruitment is based on data (performances, grades, etc.), this new means of data collection (time trials, videos, etc.) will be a part of the information coaches will use to make decisions. As a result, having recent time trials could help your chances and give coaches something more concrete to work with than last year’s performances.
Now more than ever, it is important to build a recruiting profile and continue to manage it as you move along the recruitment process. With Streamline Athletes you have access to your free profile, where you can browse colleges/universities, contact coaches, and get recruited!
Streamline Athletes is here to help you with your journey towards collegiate athletics. We are the only free-to-use recruitment platform dedicated to track and field/cross country. Email US at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about finding your way to college/university or head here for more info!
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