College Coaches Respond to Coronavirus, Recruiting

With Kansas high school track season in limbo, and anxiety running on high, along with where potential college track & field athletes recruiting stands we reached out to over 30 college coaches who we have had contact with through, in the past, asking them these questions pertaining to the recruitment of potential college athletes, 

- Do you think COVID-19 will have any impact on the 2020 Track & Field season?
- What impact do you see COVID-19  having on recruitment this year?
- Are there any changes/adaptations you foresee making as a Track & Field recruiter this season?
- What impact do you think COVID-19 will have on student athletes?
- What advice do you have for athletes and their families facing COVID-19 cancellations?
- Finally, what should student athletes do to help themselves in the event of a total loss of season?

These are a few of the responses and we will add others in a continuing article as the COVID-19 pandemic situation continues to change.

Special thank you to one of our top photographers Alycia Jiskra (@AlyciaJiskra).

This is what they had to say:

John Wise, Wichita State, Sprints/Hurdles

Yes it will have a significant impact, I doubt there will be much, of any of a season.

-as a college coach, we will have to rely on performances from 2019 and the 2020 indoor season. I think recruits will need to reach out to colleges more than usual.

-we are meeting Monday to discuss this as a staff. It will definitely be different, luckily we've already signed many athletes but we're not done so we will have to adapt. We have a dead period until at least April 15, maybe longer so we may end up signing kids that never visit. -

no one has ever been through anything like this before. College coaches will become creative. I imagine there will be a lot more recruiting through social media. Schools might not be open so we'll have to use available technology to get in touch with athletes.

-hard to advise this early, but eventually kids will need to continue working out. Maybe film their practice sessions, have time trials, etc. if there are no competitions. There are so many unknowns at this point

-Cole Davis, Head Track & Field/XC Coach at Johnson & Wales University in Denver, Colorado, 

  I think there is a real possibility the high school track season will be canceled. Our college season has already been called off. NCAA D1 coaches have been put in a dead period for the next month which means they can't do any visits... only call and email. Athletes looking to get recruited are going to HAVE to be more aggressive and reach out to coaches! They need to email us with their proper identification and link to stats. It will be tough for those athletes who are seniors who don't have great marks from their junior season. Other division coaches / D2, D3, NAIA, Juco are going to be much more active in the recruiting game this spring since we can't travel or compete... for those that are underclassman - summer track could be huge this year... help them get some legit marks for recruitment before their upcoming senior/junior season.

  I would suggest any athletes trying to get recruited should put good contact info on their social media accounts (email, coaches email, phone) - we are doing a lot of recruiting research on Twitter/instagram/Facebook right now - and it helps a ton for us as coaches if they have their contact info listed. Since we can't do any travel or official visits / there is going to be a lot of text/email/phone call recruiting the next couple months.

James Whittaker, Head Track Coach at Ottawa University

This outbreak has already resulted in the loss of the season for many high school and college teams. First of all, Ottawa University XCTF wants all high school athletes to know that while the loss of your season can be heartbreaking, it is for the benefit of everyone because it will help limit the spread of the virus and save many lives. With that said, we understand that many of you were looking forward to the chance to achieve lifetime-best performances this season in order to gain the attention of college teams. There are countless athletes looking to win championships, break records, and get recruited. Unfortunately, many college governing bodies are putting limits on recruiting travel and contact with potential recruits. Some colleges are still allowing recruits to visit campus while others are not allowing any in-person meetings to occur. This is going to have a serious impact on overall recruiting, but all is not lost. While you may not get a chance to compete for your high school this year, almost all colleges are still looking to finish up their 2021 recruiting class. One of the best things you can do is KEEP TRAINING. Talk with a trusted coach about workouts that you can do on your own to keep getting faster, jumping higher, and throwing farther. If everything goes well, you may still get a chance to compete over the summer for a local AAU or club team, and by staying in shape you'll give yourself a chance to achieve some of the goals you had for this year. Many colleges will still be recruiting over the summer and will attend many summer track meets, so prepare to get yourself noticed by training consistently even if you can't currently compete. Another step you can take to get recruited is to reach out to the teams and coaches that you're interested in. Don't just sit around and wait for a coach to contact you. Even with the use of internet recruiting services, it is still very common for great high school performers to go unnoticed. Coaches are incredibly busy this time of year, and it's not uncommon for us to accidentally overlook athletes who could have a major impact in college. You can help by simply going to each team's website and emailing or calling those coaches-and don't just reach out to one-contact every coach on staff and reach out to multiple schools. And don't just focus on the big schools-most high school athletes will give themselves the best chance of finding a scholarship by reaching out to smaller schools that many people may not have heard is a great place to learn about small schools with great programs and scholarships to give. Are you a cross country runner that hasn't signed anywhere?  These same tips apply to you!  Stay in shape and contact college coaches. Lots of schools are still looking for distance/XC runners too!     Listen to your local officials and follow the guidelines outlined by them. Keep yourself safe and use common-sense tactics to avoid exposure to this, or any other illness. It won't do you any good to get recruited if you aren't heathy.

Kansas Wesleyan Track & Field

1) I think it will have an impact on the season, more so on the training and practices as they're being cancelled. It seems that the direction we might be heading is having voluntary practices, which will rely on the student athlete's motivation. It will also depend on how severe the virus becomes here in the United States.
2) The impact this situation will have towards recruitment won't be too drastic. The change will be coming from the athletes being a little more proactive (ie reaching out to coaches via email, etc).
3) I'm going to plan on being more engaged on social media because if they don't get to race, that's an outlet for them. It's almost like a second recruiting profile, as they get to post about themselves as a runner and show coaches that are potentially looking to recruit them what they have to offer.
4) The biggest impact will be their preparation going into season. A lot of kids are in limbo with whether or not they're going to have a season, which might affect their training.
5) The best advice is knowing that we can't control the situation, but we can control our reactions to whatever happens.
6) There's going to be hardships throughout life. Things aren't going to always happen the way you want. You're not the only one going through this situation, and coming out strong helps build your sense of character. It's much easier to get through a situation together rather than alone.

Kansas Newman Cross Country

For Newman we only do we are still looking for 2020 seniors! Be your own advocate if there is somewhere that you are interested in, reach out to the coach

Allen County Track & Field

For our sport keep training and post marks, run time trials. Don't just assume since your season is canceled you cant be or will not be recruited. Fortunately for our sport it's about times/distance/height and these things are measured. Not to mention recruiting is 365 24/7 as it is.

The key is stay ready and keep fitness because our sport is similar to golf. We can suck for 9 shots and that 10th shot we take is a hole in 1. We train our asses off for 2 to 3 races anyway. What's a season of bunch of races. There are some smaller meets that coaches will load up to try and win, Some people that don't clearly understand the sport they see it just as wins and losses, KSHSAA could postpone things until League/ Regionals and State and if you've did what you needed to do you'll shine when it "ACTUALLY MATTERS"

Cloud County Track & Field

The best thing Athletes can do is staying in contact with college coaches through the process. The only thing we (both HS kids and coaches) have in an abundance of time. A connection and having quality conversation does matter to our coaching staff at Cloud. There are good question marks that come up and a little bit of faith is needed on both parties moving forward.
Summer track and field might be the only option for some kids to compete. Whether it is open meets or anything even affiliated with Club track. You might actually see a more grassroots movement with spring sports to have opportunities for kids out there. I could see some high school, club, and college Coaches teaming up together just to give opportunities once the school year's end.
No one can ultimately stop athletes from working out in some capacity. This could help show college coaches who is really serious about their dreams and who is DEPENDENT on a coach or team to push them.

Colby Track & Field

To summarize, I think it's important to realize almost every high school athlete will be in the same situation. So they shouldn't feel as if they are at a disadvantage. Although both high school and college competition is on hold, one thing that will never stop is colleges looking for prospective students. As a college team that has many international athletes (like many others), we're more concerned about those recruits not getting here in the summer. If that happens to be the case, there will actually probably be more opportunities for high school seniors. Hopefully, life can return back to normal by summer. If it does, there's always a few summer meets you may be able to compete in. As always, I'd encourage high school athletes to be proactive with their recruiting. Fill out questionnaires, send emails, send DMs to team social accounts.

Justin Riggs Head XC/Distance Coach Hutchinson Community College

-We're still hopeful, but also realistic on the outlook for the 2020 track and field season. It could go either way.
-We have been heavily recruiting all year. Perhaps the biggest impact-if the season is cancelled-will be for seniors who were looking to have a breakout season. It will also effect next year's recruitment because we rely a lot on athlete's Junior year track performances in the early recruiting process.
-It looks like college athletes will get an extra year of eligibility, but high school athletes don't have that luxury. I'm sure it will be devastating for a lot of high school athletes to miss out on a season of their high school experience. If they are also not allowed to practice, that could put them behind developmentally as athletes.
-I think it is important to control the things you can control. If the season is cancelled, focus on your training for when things do get back to normal. Possibly look for summer track opportunities, and reach out to college coaches through phone or email if you really want to compete at the college level-we'll still be working.